Gillian Hatch analyses what goes on when mathematical games are
used as a pedagogic device.
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.
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.
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.
A fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
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 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.
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. . . .
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.
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.
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.
Play this well-known game against the computer where each player is
equally likely to choose scissors, paper or rock. Why not try the
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.
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.
A game to make and play based on the number line.
An interactive activity for one to experiment with a tricky tessellation
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. . . .
Work out the fractions to match the cards with the same amount of
Dicey Operations for an adult and child. Can you get close to 1000 than your partner?
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?
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for an adult and child. Use your knowledge of place value to beat your oponent.
Train game for an adult and child. Who will be the first to make the train?
Stop the Clock game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you always win this game?
Incey Wincey Spider game for an adult and child. Will Incey get to the top of the drainpipe?
Board Block game for two. Can you stop your partner from being able to make a shape on the board?
Who said that adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing
couldn't be fun?
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
A train building game for 2 players.
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?
This is a game for two players. Can you find out how to be the first to get to 12 o'clock?
Take it in turns to make a triangle on the pegboard. Can you block your opponent?
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.
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
Match the halves.
A game for two players on a large squared space.
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.
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
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
Choose the size of your pegboard and the shapes you can make. Can you work out the strategies needed to block your opponent?
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.
A game for 2 people that everybody knows. You can play with a
friend or online. If you play correctly you never lose!
Try to stop your opponent from being able to split the piles of counters into unequal numbers. Can you find a strategy?
An odd version of tic tac toe