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Will the Winners Lose?



  • All Subjects


  • K-12

Brief Description

In this review and reinforcement game, negative scoring means that even the winners could lose!


Students will

  • answer questions related to a review topic.
  • use the math to figure out their team's score.


chance, review, reinforcement, skill

Materials Needed

  • cards containing game instructions
  • prepared cards (or a prepared list) with questions for review and reinforcement

Lesson Plan

Before the Activity
Prepare two sets of cards in advance of the game:

  • Prepare a set of 25 "scoring cards." On each of those cards, write a different instruction, for example:
    * Earn 100 points
    * Lose a turn
    * Take 50 points from the other team
    * Earn 70 points
    * Double your total points
    * Take an extra turn
    * Earn 500 bonus points
  • On the other set of cards, write 25 questions related to the topic or skill(s) you want to review and reinforce. (Note: Questions might be created in list form rather than on cards.)

Introduce the stack of scoring cards to students. Shuffle the cards. Put the stack face down on a desk.

Alternative idea.
You might post the 25 scoring cards in random order on a bulletin board or chalkboard. Post the cards with the blank side facing students and the scoring instructions hidden from view.

Arrange students into two or more teams. Decide which team goes first, and then pose the first question to a member of that team. If the student answers correctly, he or she draws a scoring card from the stack (or removes one from the bulletin board or chalkboard). The score on the card determines the score the student earns for his or her team.

  • If the team has 0 (zero) points and the card selected reads "Earn 50 points," the team has a total of 50 points.
  • If the card reads, "Double your present score," the team doubles its score of 0, for a total of 0 points.
  • If the card reads, "Deduct 50 points from your score," the team subtracts 50 from 0, for a score of -50.

If the student answer incorrectly, the first student on another team to raise his or her hand earns the right to "steal" the question. A correct answer earns that student the opportunity to choose a scoring card...

Of course, the scoring card could carry a negative message, so answering a question correctly is no guarantee that a team will earn points; as a matter of fact, the team could lose points! A team could conceivably answer all the questions correctly and lose the game. That's why the game is called "Will the Winners Lose?"

A Couple More Twists

  • You might have each student track the score for each team. Students track the team scores on their own. At the end of the game, each student who correctly calculated each team's final score might earn 50 bonus points for his or her team.
  • You might introduce another rule. Since no team member knows whether the scoring card he or she selects will earn or lose points, you might allow students the option of not selecting a card when they answer correctly. If the student thinks the next card in the stack might carry a negative scoring instruction, he or she is free to pass and earn (or lose) no points for the team. Students only learn whether that was a good move or not if the next student to choose a card reveals the scoring instruction on the card.


End the activity with a quiz that includes ten of the questions posed in the game. Each student should correctly answer at least 8 of the 10 questions.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

The game can be adapted to support a wide variety of national standards.

Find more fun learning game ideas in the following Education World resources:

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