“Why don’t we take a break and play a game?” You can feel the tension leave the room as soon as the teacher says it. The students are now relaxed, happy and primed to learn and have a good time. That’s the best way to introduce math games.
Let’s begin with some very basic math skills. Geometry and recognizing shapes is a basic math skill. So take a shape walk. Give each child a physical shape to hold. They are looking for this shape in a real item on your walk through the class room or through the playground or through the halls of the school. There may be windows shaped as squares. There may be bulletin boards that have several shapes. Have a couple parent volunteers take digital photos of the items the children find. Later those photos can be printed on regular paper and the students can look for the shapes again and outline them.
Along the same line of thinking, recognizing patterns and sequencing is a basic math skill. Complete patterns. This can be very fun with objects. Use what you have. One time for me it was different colored paperclips. Sometimes you have blocks in the classroom that will work. You start the pattern and they need to keep it going. This can be a whole classroom experience or an individual activity.
Who doesn’t love M&M Math? Certainly it’s not something you can do every day, but simple math problems adding subtracting with M&M is fun. I guess you could do carrot math and celery math too.
Let’s jump a few grades and play the product games. This is a sort of math bingo. It gives you practice with factors and multiplying. You can print the cards and instructions from the web site and it is absolutely free. http://illuminations.nctm.org/tools/product/index.html
You can never go wrong with concentration because that game can grow with their skills. It can be used to recognize numbers and shapes, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Just up grade and tweak the game to fit your lesson plan.
There are many folder games with math basics. These are a nice addition to your classroom because a student who needs to do another activity can just get a folder game and move on. This is a great way to involve parents with your class. You can send home the materials needed to make a file folder game and they return is assembled. This works well for parents who may not be able to visit the classroom, but want to contribute.
Let you imagination run wild and play with math.