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. . . .
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.
An activity based on the game 'Pelmanism'. Set your own level of challenge and beat your own previous best score.
Work out the fractions to match the cards with the same amount of
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.
Match the halves.
An old game but lots of arithmetic!
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 fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
Take turns to place a decimal number on the spiral. Can you get three consecutive numbers?
Shut the Box game for an adult and child. Can you turn over the cards which match the numbers on the dice?
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.
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 that tests your understanding of remainders.
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
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.
A train building game for 2 players.
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 shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
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?
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.
A game for 2 or more players with a pack of cards. Practise your
skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to hit
the target score.
A game for two or more players that uses a knowledge of measuring
tools. Spin the spinner and identify which jobs can be done with
the measuring tool shown.
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
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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
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.
Totality game for an adult and child. Be the first to reach your agreed total.
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
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?
A game to make and play based on the number line.
A game for 2 people using a pack of cards Turn over 2 cards and try
to make an odd number or a multiple of 3.
Use the tangram pieces to make our pictures, or to design some of
Dicey Operations for an adult and child. Can you get close to 1000 than your partner?
Factors and Multiples game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you win this game?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
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.
In this matching game, you have to decide how long different events take.
In this game for two players, the aim is to make a row of four coins which total one dollar.
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for an adult and child. Use your knowledge of place value to beat your oponent.
Train game for an adult and child. Who will be the first to make the train?
Strike it Out game for an adult and child. Can you stop your partner from being able to go?