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.
This article, the second in the series, looks at some different types of games and the sort of mathematical thinking they can develop.
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.
Can you identify the mathematicians?
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. Take turns joining two dots, until your opponent is unable to move.
Try this interactive strategy game for 2
A game for 2 or more people, based on the traditional card game
Rummy. Players aim to make two `tricks', where each trick has to
consist of a picture of a shape, a name that describes that shape,
and. . . .
Practise your diamond mining skills and your x,y coordination in this homage to Pacman.
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.
A train building game for 2 players.
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 square...
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.
Two sudokus in one. Challenge yourself to make the necessary
Four numbers on an intersection that need to be placed in the
surrounding cells. That is all you need to know to solve this
Collect as many diamonds as you can by drawing three straight lines.
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.
Work out the fractions to match the cards with the same amount of
Can you spot the similarities between this game and other games you know? The aim is to choose 3 numbers that total 15.
A shunting puzzle for 1 person. Swop the positions of the counters at the top and bottom of the board.
A game to make and play based on the number line.
A simple game of patience which often comes out. Can you explain
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 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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
This article invites you to get familiar with a strategic game called "sprouts". The game is simple enough for younger children to understand, and has also provided experienced mathematicians with. . . .
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
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. . . .
Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players
take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single
pile. The winner is the player to take the last counter.
This is a challenging game of strategy for two players with many interesting variations.
A Sudoku with clues as ratios.
Here is a solitaire type environment for you to experiment with. Which targets can you reach?
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
A Sudoku with a twist.
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 2 or more players with a pack of cards. Practise your
skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to hit
the target score.
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 pair of linked Sudokus matches letters with numbers and hides a seasonal greeting. Can you find it?
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.
Factors and Multiples game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you win this game?
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for an adult and child. Use your knowledge of place value to beat your opponent.
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?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
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?
In this matching game, you have to decide how long different events take.
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.
Four Go game for an adult and child. Will you be the first to have four numbers in a row on the number line?