August 13, 2023
Have Your Fun, and Learn From It Too! — Why Games Can Make for a GREAT Option to Optimize Math Review
Let’s Have Some FUN
To sharpen learning retention in kids, it’s highly advantageous to have their full attention. And it’s even more advantageous to express the learning review in a way that’s digestible yet productive.
This is especially applicable and prevalent in math education, a discipline that requires a lot of practice and logistical awareness for the functionality of the techniques being taught. And hey, that can be unrealistic when you’re constantly lecturing them. Talking AT the students about math, or whatever they’re learning, doesn’t fully communicate the knowledge they need in order to understand what they’re being told. And even when you work one-on-one, instilling a two way path of communication about math, it may feel like pulling teeth with some kids. Admittedly, it isn’t the most enthralling of subjects for some young minds, and their resistance shows.
Another concern regarding communicable math review is the style in which you provide it. When addressing a class collectively, you’re catering to all kinds of learning styles. This can mean you have a cultivation of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and even audio-visual learners. And although they each have individualized methods of retaining information, it is your job as an educator (or guardian) to mold a comprehensive yet constructive way to deliver the knowledge you need to.
Imagine being able to provide your students a tool, modality, or resource that not only TEACHES them the math they need, but grabs their attention in a positive and engaging way. Wouldn’t that be just AWESOME?
What’s the solution, you ask? Certainly NOT dumping a heavy review on them with no direction or energetic buffer. Instead, a better approach may be to keep it lighter in deliverance!
It’s become increasingly popular to include more lighthearted, enjoyable math reviews in the classroom through games. Yep, that’s right- games! Board games, computer games, CARD GAMES… that enjoyable pastime we highly encourage kids to participate in. And because it receives a moderately positive response from kids, it’s a prime candidate for utilization in school!
Why are they so beneficial you ask? Well, the primary appeal of games is that they’re designed to be lightly competitive but enjoyable. Not only that, they’re also easy to grasp once you play a few times (at least kid-friendly games are). If you were to find a way to incorporate math into a widely-known game structure, you create a refreshing review that actually gets the students excited to try it!
And what students love most about games is the childlike creativity or fun! If you bring a recognizable character, storyline, even movie into your classroom and use it to communicate your teaching, the students may grasp it more attentively! They naturally gravitate towards things they find enjoyable.
What games are best to use in a classroom? Well, that’s entirely situational.
If you have a smaller class size, you can split the class evenly and do multiple rounds of a one-on-one style game. For the larger-sized classes, team games are always a great way to instill community, teamwork, accountability, and enthusiasm! Students always receive teams well because they don’t want to feel isolated in their learning, and a few minds are always better than just one.
Ask yourself about these important factors when creating math review games:
Is this a game that is familiar to my students, or at least digestible in terms of difficulty?
If I give them the clear-cut directions and allow a few practice rounds, will they be able to effectively retain the knowledge while participating in the game?
Does this game have any offensive, discriminatory, or inappopriate content originally included that I can take out for my purposes?
Does this game ensure I can implement the exact math I’m teaching relatively easily?
What are some clear cut boundaries I need to set with my students?
After careful consideration, outline a game that you believe will deliver what you’re aiming to.
And if you’re looking for some guidance, look no further…
Games for Inspiration
Trivia/Jeopardy: Split the class into a few medium sized teams and create trivia style questions about math. You can give them whiteboards or paper to work out the problem on the screen, all the while collaborating with their classmates. Whoever has the correct answer first wins whatever reward was assigned to the question! This also broadens their knowledge of the discipline overall. A popular electronic trivia game is Kahoot!
What’s Missing: Memory is such an integral skill in math, and it should be exercised to the best of its ability! Present an equation, or visual representation of a problem (this is a great game for geometry-based questions) and ask the students what step or factor is missing! This helps them increase awareness for problem solving as well as formula-based questions.
True or False: Present a math equation or world problem (bonus if it’s on your assessments) and give the students an answer. It’s up to them to work on the problem on their own and decide if the answer you originally gave them was the correct one or a false one. This is also a great opportunity to work through the problem as a class AFTER you tell them if it’s true or false; some students may get it wrong, so if you show them the mistakes or misconceptions they’ll retain it. And this also helps them create a growth mindset!
Match the Equation: Matching card games are super quick, easy, and fun! You can create a deck that splits into: problems vs. answers, formulas vs. what they’re meant for, shapes vs. dimensions (size, shape, sides, etc). This is a flexible game style that’s suitable for all ages!