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. . . .
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
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.
A game for 2 players. This could be played outside with people instead of counters. Try to trap or escape from your opponent.
This is a game for two players. Can you find out how to be the
first to get to 12 o'clock?
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.
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. . . .
Interactive game. Set your own level of challenge, practise your table skills and beat your previous best score.
A card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
Reasoning based on this Japanese activity.
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
An ordinary set of dominoes can be laid out as a 7 by 4 magic
rectangle in which all the spots in all the columns add to 24,
while those in the rows add to 42. Try it! Now try the magic
A shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
A game for 2 players. Take turns to place a counter so that it
occupies one of the lowest possible positions in the grid. The
first player to complete a line of 4 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.
Here are a collection of games from around the world to try during the holidays or the last few weeks of term.
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
A complicated game played on a 9 x 9 checkered grid.
A train building game for 2 players.
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. . . .
In this game you throw two dice and find their total, then move the appropriate counter to the right. Which counter reaches the purple box first? Is this what you would expect?
This is a game for 2 players. Each player has 4 counters each, and
wins by blocking their opponent's counters. A good follow-on from
The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right
hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of
A game to make and play based on the number line.
A game for 1 person to develop stategy and shape and space
awareness. 12 counters are placed on a board. Counters are removed
one at a time. The aim is to be left with only 1 counter.
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the
site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to
develop the skills of strategic planning.
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.
An activity based on the game 'Pelmanism'. Set your own level of challenge and beat your own previous best score.
A fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
How good are you at estimating angles?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you
go first or second?
Everthing you have always wanted to do with dominoes! Some of these
games are good for practising your mental calculation skills, and
some are good for your reasoning skills.
The idea of this game is to add or subtract the two numbers on the
dice and cover the result on the grid, trying to get a line of
three. Are there some numbers that are good to aim for?
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 1 person to play on screen. Practise your number bonds
whilst improving your memory
Work out the fractions to match the cards with the same amount of
Match the halves.
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 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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
A variant on the game Alquerque
This challenge is a game for two players. Choose two numbers from the grid and multiply or divide, then mark your answer on the number line. Can you get four in a row before your partner?
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.