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.
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.
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 train building game for 2 players.
Take it in turns to make a triangle on the pegboard. Can you block your opponent?
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
A shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
Can you spot the similarities between this game and other games you know? The aim is to choose 3 numbers that total 15.
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 square...
Match the halves.
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 complicated game played on a 9 x 9 checkered grid.
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 Sudoku with clues given as sums of entries.
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 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 card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
Solve this Sudoku puzzle whose clues are in the form of sums of the
numbers which should appear in diagonal opposite cells.
A game for 2 or more people. Starting with 100, subratct a number from 1 to 9 from the total. You score for making an odd number, a number ending in 0 or a multiple of 6.
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 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.
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.
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 to make and play based on the number line.
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
Four Go game for an adult and child. Will you be the first to have four numbers in a row on the number line?
Square It game for an adult and child. Can you come up with a way of always winning this game?
Train game for an adult and child. Who will be the first to make the train?
Dicey Operations for an adult and child. Can you get close to 1000 than your partner?
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.
Board Block game for two. Can you stop your partner from being able to make a shape on the board?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
Board Block Challenge game for an adult and child. Can you prevent your partner from being able to make a shape?
Spiralling Decimals game for an adult and child. Can you get three decimals next to each other on the spiral before your partner?
Totality game for an adult and child. Be the first to reach your agreed total.
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?
In this matching game, you have to decide how long different events take.
In this game for two players, you throw two dice and find the product. How many shapes can you draw on the grid which have that area or perimeter?
Advent Calendar 2010 - a mathematical game for every day during the
run-up to Christmas.
Unmultiply is a game of quick estimation. You need to find two numbers that multiply together to something close to the given target - fast! 10 levels with a high scores table.
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
A game that tests your understanding of remainders.
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
The computer starts with all the lights off, but then clicks 3, 4
or 5 times at random, leaving some lights on. Can you switch them