Our middle school Algebra classes are taught in 85 minute blocks, which is great because it allows for enough time go over homework, teach a lesson AND do an activity or game. Of course, the flip side is that with 85 minutes, you need some kind of activity or game as 8th graders cannot sit for that length of time (I can’t sit still for that long!). So, we do lots of activities and play lots of math games.
Hands down, my all time favorite is “Ghosts in the Graveyard” which I found and adapted from http://mathtalesfromthespring.blogspot.com/2009/10/ghosts-in-graveyard.html
My kids absolutely LOVE this game. It works really well as a review for the 9 weeks before benchmark testing. Last year I did a “Presents under the Tree” around the holidays and “Eggs on the Hunt” later in the year. It’s a great way to have all students review a variety of problems. It IS a game that takes planning time up front – you cannot pull this off by throwing it together 10 minutes before class because you need to have answers already worked out for all of the problems as you will be running around checking answers and won’t have time to rework them!
Another game my students like is a take off of the “Dots” game they are fairly familiar with. In normal Dots, you have a grid of dots (about 8 by 8). You draw a line connecting two of the dots, and then your opponent does the same. When you draw a 4th line and it makes a box, you get that square and whoever gets the most squares win. For this version, write integers (for example -2 or +4) in the center of the squares (even though they are not squares yet). Students should try to complete the squares that will give them the highest points while keeping their opponents from getting many points. I’ve done this by giving two students a piece of paper with the dot grid on it with the integer values, and I’ve also played it by drawing the dots on the board and breaking the kids into groups and having groups compete against each other. The kids really get into the competition.
We also play Jeopardy type games, and the typical “I Have, Who Has” review card games. Really looking forward to reviewing these posts to see what other kinds of math games are out there!