Search form

Synchronized Swimming: A Multiplication Game

math game
Image source: Wikimedia Commons





Brief Description

Part team building exercise, part math competition and part "Simon Says," this fun game teaches multiplication tables 1-12.


Students will:

  • Work in teams to "buzz in" answers and act out choreography.
  • Reinforce operation skills to do multiplication quickly in their heads.
  • Make finger formations by command and/or display, enhancing spatial reasoning, timing and ordered thinking.

Materials Needed

  • Index cards
  • Markers
  • Area to display score
  • A cleared space that allows for safe movement

Lesson Plan

Before the Lesson:

  1. Take anywhere from 60-144 index cards and write a number on each one in order from 1 to 12. Distribute the cards and markers to students.
  2. Ask each student to say a number out loud, counting from 1 through 12 as you go around the room. When a student gets to 12, have the next student start back at 1 again. Ask students to remember their numbers.
  3. Instruct students to raise their hands if they have an odd number. Have all of the odd numbers get up from their seats and go to the front of the class with their cards and a marker.
  4. Ask the remaining even-numbered students who are still sitting to move to one side of the classroom with their markers and index cards. Ask the odd-numbered students to sit on the other side of the class.
  5. Tell the odd-numbered students who had the number 1 to pick any number of their choosing between 2 and 12.
  6. Ask every student in the class to write a multiplication symbol and his/her number to the right of the number already written on the card. Then ask students to figure out the answer to the problem and write the answer on the back side of their card.
  7. Allow your students to quickly check each others' work and float around to make sure the answers all look correct. Then collect and shuffle/check the cards.
  8. Ask all of the students to move their seats, desks, tables, etc. against the walls of the room.
  9. Ask the two teams to quickly decide their team names and then write them up on the front board. You will keep score by using tally marks.

Synchronized Swimming Fingers:

  1. Arrange the two standing teams into parallel lines. (Students will go head-to-head answering questions based on their order in line.) Inform students that answering a question requires them to "buzz in" by raising their hands as quickly as possible.
  2. The two ways to score points are: (1) answering the multiplication question correctly (earns the team 1 point) and (2) following the instructions of the "synchronized swimming" coach (teacher).
  3. Instruct students to raise all of their hands into the air. Then, as a team, from back to front, have them drop their arms down, followed by fingers, until the correct number of fingers (to represent the answer to the problem) are remaining in the air. (If each team doesn't have at least 12 members, have students raise all of their fingers to represent answers that are high numbers.)
  4. After students represent the correct answer of the equation by the total number of fingers they're holding up, you'll instruct them to do a fun and/or silly motion with their fingers in unison (great options are wiggling, forming bunny ears, or pretending their hands are ducks). The team that best represents the action in unison gets 2 points.
  5. After the students at the front of the lines answer their question and the teams complete their movements, those two students rotate to the back, and the next pair of students answers a question.


The team that earns the most points wins.

National Standards

GRADES 3 - 5

NM-NUM.3-5.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates


Article by Jason Cunningham, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
Education World®             
Copyright © 2013 Education World