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.
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 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.
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 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.
A game for two people, or play online. Given a target number, say 23, and a range of numbers to choose from, say 1-4, players take it in turns to add to the running total to hit their target.
Reasoning based on this Japanese activity.
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 somewhat similar to 'noughts and crosses' on a much larger
This is a game for two players. Can you find out how to be the
first to get to 12 o'clock?
Try this version of Snap with a friend - do you know the order of
the days of the week?
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.
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. . . .
An interactive activity for one to experiment with a tricky tessellation
A game for 2 players. This could be played outside with people instead of counters. Try to trap or escape from your opponent.
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 complicated game played on a 9 x 9 checkered grid.
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.
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?
Work out the fractions to match the cards with the same amount of
Match the halves.
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. . . .
A game for two players on a large squared space.
A train building game for 2 players.
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.
A shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
Take it in turns to make a triangle on the pegboard. Can you block
A fun puzzle with tantrix tiles.
A card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
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
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
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 two players. You'll need some counters and somewhere to draw a board.
This is a game for two players.
An odd version of tic tac toe
A game for 2 people that everybody knows. You can play with a
friend or online. If you play correctly you never lose!
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.
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 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?
Can you use the numbers on the dice to reach your end of the number line before your partner beats you?
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?
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?
Choose the size of your pegboard and the shapes you can make. Can
you work out the strategies needed to block your opponent?