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Math Madness:
A Game for Small Groups


Students worked hard all week? Do they deserve a special reward for a job well done? This activity will offer students a nice break from structured learning. Adapt it to fit your needs. Have some Friday Fun!


Before the Lesson
Before the lesson, prepare one index card for each student in the class. Write on each card a math problem that emphasizes the skill you wish to practice -- for example, addition of 2-digit numbers, simple word problems, long division, percents, averages, or any other skill. (This game can be adapted to almost any math skill.) Number the cards from 1 to __ (the number of students in the class). Create an answer key.

The Fun Begins
Arrange students into groups of three to six -- each group should have the same number of students. Have each student fold a sheet of math paper into squares and number the squares from 1 to __ (the number of students in the class).

Arrange students' desks into small circles and place one math problem face down on each desk. When students have pencils and math paper ready, indicate the start of the game by calling out "Go!" or ringing a bell. At the signal, students turn over the card in front of them, copy the problem in the appropriately numbered square on their paper, and solve the problem. When a student has finished solving a problem, s/he flips their card back into the facedown position, puts down the pencil, and waits until all members of the group have solved their problems.

When the last student in the group solves his/her problem, the students stand up, rotate clockwise to the next desk, and repeat the process.

The game continues until all the students in each group have solved all their group's problems. Students who finish early can use the time to check their work.

The game is not necessarily over when one group finishes. The other groups still have a chance to win the game if any student in the groups that finished first recorded a wrong answer. (Speed counts, but accuracy is more important.) The group that finishes last could be the winning group if somebody in each of the other groups solved a problem incorrectly. If no group correctly solves all their problems, the group with the fewest errors wins.

If time remains, groups could collect the cards on their desks, pass them to another group, and start a new game.

Click the link below for more tips for using this game.


Math Madness: A Game for Small Groups
Education World (January 2, 2003)

Find links to more Friday Fun activity ideas in our Friday Fun archive.

Find more great learning games in our Learning Game Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World