Math games in the classroom have changed a lot in the last decades. Whereas they used to be fun ways to drill math concepts (with games like math bingo or math race cars), today’s games focus on higher-order thinking, sharing knowledge about math processes, and understanding concepts. And they’re highly effective! Here are five clever approaches to gamifying your math lessons:
A favorite among math games in the classroom is a website called Gizmos. Gizmos offers over 400 math and science Gizmos (like super-charged simulations) that graph, measure, compare, and predict. It is aligned with most educational standards, runs on most digital devices (including desktops, Chromebooks, iOS, and Android), and can be used in whole group scenarios or 1:1.
The free MathScienceMusic.org teaches STEM through music, using it to show real-world applications of mathematical or scientific concepts. It is designed for kindergarten through college, and uses non-traditional methods to help students acquire STEM knowledge and think creatively. Where the content is somewhat limited, it is unique, and may be the perfect approach for a diverse group of learners who might not think they like math.
Online Manga High is a gamified math-learning ecosystem that teaches and reinforces a wide variety of math fundamentals from counting and number sense to beginning algebra and geometry. Students play the games at their own pace or work on teacher-assigned challenges. Students can earn medals, badges, and rewards, compete against students across the world, and take part in school-wide challenges against other schools. The content is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and includes not only math games but hundreds of tutorials and quizzes.
Planet Turtle teaches math while individualizing content for each student as they play. An advanced algorithm promotes students from one topic to the next as their learning progresses. Students scaffold math learning as the system continually reacts to their performance and provides additional exposure and review on necessary topics. Since the questions are interchangeable in activities, Planet Turtle provides appropriate content while letting students pick their favorite games. It is aligned with many math programs like Everyday Mathematics and Math Connects, as well as national math conventions.
PolyUp is a web-based platform (and app) that provides gamified math challenges for all levels of students. With the help of a friendly avatar — Poly — students explore anything from simple operations to the Fibonacci sequence and the Birthday Problem. As students work, problems get progressively harder, while offering a wide range of operations and functions to choose from. Students can even create and submit their own Poly Machines. Included on the website are teacher-oriented guides on how to use PolyUp in the classroom.