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.
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.
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. . . .
Players take it in turns to choose a dot on the grid. The winner is the first to have four dots that can be joined to form a square.
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
In this matching game, you have to decide how long different events take.
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.
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
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
A game for two players on a large squared space.
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.
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 interactive activity for one to experiment with a tricky tessellation
Design your own scoring system and play Trumps with these Olympic Sport cards.
Solve this Sudoku puzzle whose clues are in the form of sums of the
numbers which should appear in diagonal opposite cells.
A card pairing game involving knowledge of simple ratio.
A Sudoku with clues given as sums of entries.
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.
Dicey Operations for an adult and child. Can you get close to 1000 than 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 to make and play based on the number line.
Take turns to place a decimal number on the spiral. Can you get three consecutive numbers?
Advent Calendar 2010 - a mathematical game for every day during the run-up to Christmas.
A game that tests your understanding of remainders.
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
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
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
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?
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.
Advent Calendar 2010 - a mathematical game for every day during the
run-up to Christmas.
Try this matching game which will help you recognise different ways of saying the same time interval.
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.
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?
A train building game for 2 players.
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.
Take it in turns to make a triangle on the pegboard. Can you block your opponent?
A complicated game played on a 9 x 9 checkered grid.
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.
Can you spot the similarities between this game and other games you know? The aim is to choose 3 numbers that total 15.