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.
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.
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.
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. . . .
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 game to make and play based on the number line.
A game for 2 players. This could be played outside with people instead of counters. Try to trap or escape from your opponent.
A complicated game played on a 9 x 9 checkered grid.
Interactive game. Set your own level of challenge, practise your table skills and beat your previous best score.
A shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
Totality game for an adult and child. Be the first to reach your agreed total.
Can you spot the similarities between this game and other games you know? The aim is to choose 3 numbers that total 15.
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?
Board Block Challenge game for an adult and child. Can you prevent your partner from being able to make a shape?
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.
A game for 2 players. Draw a daisy with at least 5 petals. Shade 1 or 2 petals next to each other. The winner shades the last petal.
A game for 2 players that can be played online. Players take it in turns to select a word from the 9 words given. The aim is to select all the occurrences of the same letter.
A fun puzzle with tantrix tiles.
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
Spiralling Decimals game for an adult and child. Can you get three decimals next to each other on the spiral before your partner?
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.
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
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 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. . . .
Reasoning based on this Japanese activity.
A game somewhat similar to 'noughts and crosses' on a much larger
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.
Advent Calendar 2010 - a mathematical game for every day during the run-up to Christmas.
Here are a collection of games from around the world to try during the holidays or the last few weeks of term.
An activity based on the game 'Pelmanism'. Set your own level of challenge and beat your own previous best score.
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
Take turns to place a decimal number on the spiral. Can you get three consecutive numbers?
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 game played with a standard pack of cards.
A game for 1 person to play on screen. Practise your number bonds
whilst improving your memory
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 and somewhere to draw a board.
Design your own scoring system and play Trumps with these Olympic Sport cards.
A fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
A game for 2 people that everybody knows. You can play with a
friend or online. If you play correctly you never lose!
A number card game for 2-6 players.
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
Train game for an adult and child. Who will be the first to make the train?
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.
Stop the Clock game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you always win this game?
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
A card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.