Resource 2: Games to practise numeracy skills
Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils
A simple children’s board game for two to four players, in which the players race their four tokens from start to finish according to the way the dice falls.
Players take it in turns to throw the dice and move their tokens round the board. When a player throws a 6 they have the option to start to move another token around the board. If a player’s token lands on a space that is already occupied by another player’s token, that player has to remove their token from the board and wait until they have thrown a 6 to start again. The winner is the first player to get their four tokens to the centre of the board landing on their matching coloured area.
Snakes and ladders
Players take it in turns to throw the dice and move their tokens around the board. If they land on the bottom of a ‘ladder’ they go up to the square at the top of the ladder. If they land on a ‘snake’s’ head they travel down to the square at the tail of the snake.
This is a game of chance where randomly selected numbers are drawn on a bingo card which includes blank squares. One example is below:
One person, ‘the caller’, writes the numbers 1–100 usually on small balls (but you could use cards). The caller then selects these one by one without looking and calls the numbers out. If the player can match that number they cover the number on their card with a counter, or cross it off. It is important that the caller remembers to keep the numbers that have already been called separate, as they will need them later for checking. The caller selects and then calls until one person has covered all the numbers on their card and shouts out ‘BINGO!’. The caller needs to check their card is correct and declares the person the winner.
A loop card game
‘Loop card’ games keep pupils ‘on their toes’ and listening, as all are involved and they do not know when their card will come up.
Each card has a number such as 12 (or any other number) and a question. The question can simply be about adding or multiplying numbers, or could involve all four rules of number depending on what you want the pupils to practise. You can therefore make different sets of these cards, easy and hard, to use at different times. For example, some cards could help pupils who have particular problems with larger numbers. The examples in the picture below are about halving and doubling.
You need enough cards for each pupil to have one card. You could also make cards using money, distance etc. as a topic.
To play the game, the pupils could sit at their desks or you could organise them into a big circle. Give out a card to each pupil. Choose one pupil to start by reading out their question. The child who has the correct answer stands up and says the answer. If they are correct, they read their question. The child with the correct answer to this new question stands up and reads out their question and so it goes on until all the pupils are standing (or sitting if they all start standing up).
Do not have more than one card with the same number as this will confuse the pupils. You can use this game often as your pupils will get different cards each time. It is a good activity to use at the end of a lesson when all other work is finished, and is good practice for their mental mathematics skills.
The triangle number game
The triangle number game is the most versatile mathematics game for primary children. The game is played much like dominoes, where numbers are matched to each other to make a pattern. Two sides of the triangles are put together according to a chosen rule. In the example below, the ‘rule’ is that the two numbers must add up to 9.
For older pupils, the winner is the one to finish their cards first, but younger children usually play cooperatively. The game is best with 2–4 players, although it can be used by one as a ‘patience’.
Some of these examples have been adapted from http://homepages.which.net/~jenny.murray/games.htm (Accessed 2008). This website is no longer active but you can find more examples of maths games at:(accessed 5/05/2016).