5 Math Enrichment Games to Use in Your Classroom This Year

Sep 7, 2023 3:51:06 PM

by Kwame Sarfo-Mensah

A new school year is quickly approaching, which means that many math teachers are brainstorming innovative ways to enhance the learning experience for their math learners this coming school year.

Thinking back to my days as a math teacher, the overwhelming pressures of standardized testing made it very difficult for me to create learning opportunities for my students to engage in math in a way that was fun, engaging, and authentic. Although textbooks, end-of-unit projects, classwork, and homework assignments were valuable resources that helped them develop a strong understanding of the content they learned in class, these resources weren’t always the most engaging.

For that very reason, I decided to build a library of math enrichment games. These games served as learning centers that provided skills enrichment and basic skills practice for my students. They also served as a critical component of my guided math groups that took place every week. While I provided targeted skills instruction to my intervention groups, the other students could still advance their skills by interacting with the math games.

I strongly recommend purchasing the following games for my fellow math educators to incorporate into your math instructional block.

The "24" Game

Grade Level(s): 1-9

Skills Learned:  Number Sense, Basic Operations, Equivalent Expressions

This math enrichment game is an oldie but goodie!  You can use this game as a "Do Now" activity, a learning center, or even an exit ticket for your students. What’s great about this game is that it consists of multiple iterations that span multiple grade levels and a wide range of foundational math skills. The game is simple: Take a card that will include four numbers and create an equation that equals 24 using all four numbers. 

Head Full of Numbers

Grade Level(s): K-5

Skills Learned: Number Sense, Order of Operations (PEMDAS), Basic Operations, Equivalent Expressions

It's a great game for a "Do Now" activity or learning center! To play, you place the three standard dice and three custom dice (with numbers 0, 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9) into the fun dice shaker (shaped like a head), then roll them out and place them into the dice tray. Set the sand timer and have the score pad ready to record the number of unique, correct equations each player makes using the numbers rolled.

SUMOKU

Grade Level(s): Varies depending on skill level

Skills Learned: Basic Addition, Multiples

This is the math version of the game “Sudoku.” In Sumoku, the tiles are arranged in a crossword- style pattern, such that each row and column adds up to a multiple of the key number. The key number is the number rolled on the die. The object is to get the highest score. Players collect points by arranging tiles in rows and columns that add up to multiples of the key number.

EQUATE

Grade Level(s): Varies depending on skill level

Skills Learned: Number Sense, Algebraic Reasoning, Equivalent Expressions, Spatial Reasoning, Order of Operations (PEMDAS)

This is the math version of the game “Scrabble.” The object of the game is to form correct equations in a crossword-style pattern using both number and symbol tiles.

Playing Card Math Games

Grade Level(s): Varies depending on skill level

Skills Learned: Varies

As a bonus, I encourage you to check out the Acing Math Games and Uno Math Games guides to explore the multiple games you can play with just a deck of cards!

This short list is guaranteed to increase your student engagement and bring life to your classroom.  These games totally transformed my classroom, and I hope they do the same for you this school year.

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah is the founder of Identity Talk Consulting, LLC., an independent educational consulting firm that provides professional development and consulting services globally to educators who desire to enhance their instructional practices and reach their utmost potential in the classroom. He is the author of two books, "Shaping the Teacher Identity: 8 Lessons That Will Help Define the Teacher in You" and his latest, "From Inaction to 'In Action': Creating a New Normal for Urban Educators". Throughout his 14-year career as a middle school math educator, author, and entrepreneur, Kwame has been on a personal mission to uplift and empower educators who are committed to reversing the ills of the public education system in America and around the world. As a staunch ambassador and advocate for teacher empowerment, Kwame has spoken at numerous national education conferences and worked diligently to support the recruitment and retention of teachers of color in the education system. In January 2019, he was one of 35 Massachusetts teachers of color chosen by Commissioner Jeff Riley to be in the inaugural cohort of the InSPIRED (In-Service Professionals Increasing Racial and Ethnic Diversity) Fellowship, an initiative organized by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for veteran teachers of color to recruit students of color at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels to teach in targeted districts within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As an InSPIRED Teaching Fellow, Kwame facilitated professional development workshops for aspiring teachers at universities such as Boston College, UMass Boston, and Worcester State University and has served as a guest speaker for non-profit teacher pipeline programs such as Generation Teach and Worcester Public Schools’ Future Teachers Academy. A proud graduate of Temple University, Kwame holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in education. He was honored as the 2019 National Member of the Year by Black Educators Rock, Inc. for his unwavering commitment to the advancement of the teacher profession.

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