2. Games and group work

Games can be played in small groups or as a class. Playing with the whole class needs preparation and adequate resources. Allowing games to be played at times other than class time will encourage more learning and help to consolidate ideas. Setting up a games club in your school may also encourage more pupils to play.

It will also be important to understand a game’s level of difficulty so that you pick the right game for your pupils. Case Study 2 shows one teacher playing a game with her class and Activity 2 shows how to organise using more than one game at a time.

Case Study 2: Playing Bingo to aid number recognition

Patience played Bingo with her Primary 2 class because she thought it was a great game to help pupils recognise two-digit numbers (see Resource 1).

She gave each pupil a card and some buttons, and explained the rules. One pupil (the ‘caller’) was going to pull numbers, from 10 to 50, from a box and read them to the class. (The called number will then be put aside for the rest of that round.) When a pupil finds the number read out on their card, they should place a button over it. The first pupil who had buttons covering a row, column, or diagonal correctly has to shout out ‘BINGO!’ very loud. The caller then checks that the pupil has called correctly. If they have, they will get a round of applause for winning the game.

As the pupils played the game, Patience went around the class helping.

Next, she divided the class into groups of eight and they played the game at their own pace, taking it in turns to be the caller.

Patience also allowed pupils to play Bingo at break. She also noticed how much more confident they became in mathematics classes. She extended the game by putting more cards into the game using numbers 51–99 for her more able pupils and cards using 0–9 for some less able students.

Activity 2: Identifying the mathematics in games

In this activity, ask your pupils to play one of five games and identify any mathematics they think they are learning. You may need to help them identify the mathematics.

  • Organise your pupils into groups of four or five.
  • Provide each group with one of the five number games.
  • Ask each group to discuss the game, checking they understand the rules before playing.
  • After playing each game for a set time, ask groups to list what mathematics they think they have practised using the table in Resource 2: Table to record numeracy skills.
  • You may then want groups to try one of the other games. If you have time, you could continue until each group has played all five games (rotating different activities like this is sometimes called a ‘circus’; using a circus approach allows one set of equipment, in this case a particular game, to be used by the whole class).
  • Pin all the results on the wall so that they can be discussed.

You may have to let them play over more than one lesson or let them play during break times.

1. Using games to support mental maths

3. Cultural games