My 5 Favorite Math Games

March 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm 1 comment

I’ve been thinking about games a lot recently. I’ve been reading The Multiplayer Classroom, in which Lee Sheldon describes his experience turning a college class into a multiplayer game. Students earn experience points (XP) and progress through levels; the grade a student receives at the end of the course reflects the level reached in the game. Awesome concept!

My sons have recently been playing a math game that my friend Barb Dougherty calls “Sums and Products.” I prefer the name given to it by Constance Kamii: Salute. The latter name captures the action performed by players, raising a card to their foreheads.

Here. Watch for yourself.

I like the game well enough, because my kids get to practice addition and multiplication facts in a non-routine way. But I much prefer games that teach new concepts rather than just reinforce things they already know.

So, a question for you:

What’s your favorite math game?

Here’s my top five.

1. Sprouts. Yeah, I know… how cliché, right? But I can’t help myself. It’s just a great game.

2. Pig. Players roll a pair of dice. On each turn, you can roll the dice as many times as you want, and you can stop whenever you want. Your score for that turn is the sum of all the rolls. However, if you roll a 1 on either die, you get 0 points for that turn; and if you roll double 1’s, your total score for the entire game returns to 0. First player to reach 100 points wins. How daring are you?

3. Ker-Splash. This is one of the games at Calculation Nation®, a suite of math strategy games from NCTM. My co-worker Julia Zurkovsky designed the game, and I still think it’s the best game on the site.


4. Theseus and the Minotaur. I don’t know, perhaps this isn’t really a math game. But it’s too damned addictive not to include on this list. How addictive is it, you ask? In the middle of writing this post, I jumped to another tab to find the link to the game. It was 55 minutes before I returned to finish this post. Damn you, Toby Nelson!

5. Deep Sea Duel. This game goes by many names. If you can figure out its most common name, you’ll have no trouble winning. The answer can be found in the article “What’s the Name of this Game?” by John Mahoney, which originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

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Ordered Pairs, Gumby, and Palindromes Be Careful!

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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