This article supplies teachers with information that may be useful in better understanding the nature of games and their role in teaching and learning mathematics.
In this article for teachers, Liz Woodham describes the criteria she uses to choose mathematical games for the classroom and shares some examples from NRICH.
This article, the second in the series, looks at some different types of games and the sort of mathematical thinking they can develop.
Gillian Hatch analyses what goes on when mathematical games are
used as a pedagogic device.
Not all of us a bursting with creative game ideas, but there are
several ways to go about creating a game that will assist even the
busiest and most reluctant game designer.
Basic strategy games are particularly suitable as starting points
for investigations. Players instinctively try to discover a winning
strategy, and usually the best way to do this is to analyse. . . .
The game uses a 3x3 square board. 2 players take turns to play,
either placing a red on an empty square, or changing a red to
orange, or orange to green. The player who forms 3 of 1 colour in a
line. . . .
A fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
A game to be played against the computer, or in groups. Pick a 7-digit number. A random digit is generated. What must you subract to remove the digit from your number? the first to zero wins.
A game for 2 players. Can be played online. One player has 1 red
counter, the other has 4 blue. The red counter needs to reach the
other side, and the blue needs to trap the red.
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
Play this well-known game against the computer where each player is
equally likely to choose scissors, paper or rock. Why not try the
A game for 2 people that can be played on line or with pens and paper. Combine your knowledege of coordinates with your skills of strategic thinking.
An interactive game to be played on your own or with friends.
Imagine you are having a party. Each person takes it in turns to
stand behind the chair where they will get the most chocolate.
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
An extension of noughts and crosses in which the grid is enlarged
and the length of the winning line can to altered to 3, 4 or 5.
Who said that adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing
couldn't be fun?
This is a game for two players. Can you find out how to be the first to get to 12 o'clock?
An interactive game for 1 person. You are given a rectangle with 50 squares on it. Roll the dice to get a percentage between 2 and 100. How many squares is this? Keep going until you get 100. . . .
A game for 1 person. Can you work out how the dice must be rolled from the start position to the finish? Play on line.
An interactive activity for one to experiment with a tricky tessellation
Match the halves.
Work out the fractions to match the cards with the same amount of
A game for two players on a large squared space.
A game to make and play based on the number line.
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
A card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
Take it in turns to place a domino on the grid. One to be placed horizontally and the other vertically. Can you make it impossible for your opponent to play?
A shape and space game for 2,3 or 4 players. Be the last person to be able to place a pentomino piece on the playing board. Play with card, or on the computer.
Take it in turns to make a triangle on the pegboard. Can you block your opponent?
A game in which players take it in turns to choose a number. Can you block your opponent?
A train building game for 2 players.
A game for 2 players. Given a board of dots in a grid pattern, players take turns drawing a line by connecting 2 adjacent dots. Your goal is to complete more squares than your opponent.
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
A game for 2 people that everybody knows. You can play with a
friend or online. If you play correctly you never lose!
An odd version of tic tac toe
Choose the size of your pegboard and the shapes you can make. Can you work out the strategies needed to block your opponent?
Hover your mouse over the counters to see which ones will be
removed. Click to remover them. The winner is the last one to
remove a counter. How you can make sure you win?
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
You'll need two dice to play this game against a partner. Will Incey Wincey make it to the top of the drain pipe or the bottom of the drain pipe first?
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
Try to stop your opponent from being able to split the piles of counters into unequal numbers. Can you find a strategy?
A game for 2 people. Take turns placing a counter on the star. You
win when you have completed a line of 3 in your colour.
A number card game for 2-6 players.
Try this interactive strategy game for 2
Exchange the positions of the two sets of counters in the least possible number of moves
Play a dice game of chance
A game for 2 people using a pack of cards Turn over 2 cards and try
to make an odd number or a multiple of 3.
Advent Calendar 2010 - a mathematical game for every day during the run-up to Christmas.