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.
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.
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.
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.
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. . . .
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.
Play this well-known game against the computer where each player is
equally likely to choose scissors, paper or rock. Why not try the
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
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.
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
Stop the Clock game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you always win this game?
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.
A game to make and play based on the number line.
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
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.
A card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
A game for two players on a large squared space.
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
Take it in turns to make a triangle on the pegboard. Can you block your opponent?
Board Block game for two. Can you stop your partner from being able to make a shape on the board?
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for an adult and child. Use your knowledge of place value to beat your opponent.
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.
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
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 train building game for 2 players.
Incey Wincey Spider game for an adult and child. Will Incey get to the top of the drainpipe?
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?
This is an adding game for two players.
A game for 2 people that everybody knows. You can play with a
friend or online. If you play correctly you never lose!
A game for 2 players. Using 2 dice, some counters and a games board, can you form a line of counters from one side of the board to the other?
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
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.
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?
Try to stop your opponent from being able to split the piles of counters into unequal numbers. Can you find a strategy?
Choose the size of your pegboard and the shapes you can make. Can you work out the strategies needed to block your opponent?
An odd version of tic tac toe
Play a dice game of chance
Exchange the positions of the two sets of counters in the least possible number of moves
Train game for an adult and child. Who will be the first to make the train?
Try this interactive strategy game for 2