A Lazy Teacher's Version of Block Game

I love the "Block" game that my colleague Erin has shared with me. Erin found it at Maria Anderson's post. It looked familiar, turned out it was one of Elizabeth's #made4math posts. I know I'm late to this good find because Bowman responded when I tweeted how much I love this game:

bowmanimal: @fawnpnguyen @busynessgirl i use this for antiderivatives. love it! i made cards with newton and leibniz for the two teams.

There's just this one BIG problem: I dread making games that require a bunch of little game pieces!! Erin must have spent hours typing up the 36 math expressions for the distributive game, wrote the 36 answers on the back, made 18 copies — for 36 kids to play in pairs — and cut each copy into 36 
little game pieces. I felt bad using them because I didn't help at all.

Whenever I borrow stuff I'm extra careful with it, so I kept reminding my kids to be gentle with the pieces, to not lose any of them, to not write on them, and don't even breathe on them!


Because the algebra kids really liked the game, I thought, Okay, I'm going to make one for order-of-operations for my 6th graders!

I lasted all of five minutes.

Then an idea popped into my head that requires NO GAME PIECES AT ALL!! I made two changes:
  1. Instead of a blank 4x9-grid game board, I number the spaces from 1 to 36.
  2. Instead of typing up 36 questions and 36 answers (photocopied back-to-back) and cutting them out, I use KUTA to generate a worksheet with 36 questions — takes 1 minute. KUTA also automatically generates the answers. I print the questions and answers back-to-back.

So, this would be all that is needed for two players:

  • 1 game board
  • 2 worksheets (36 questions in front, 36 answers in back) — one for each person
  • 2 different game markers

You can put the game boards and worksheets into plastic sleeves — or laminate them — to protect and re-use them. I'm just going to protect the game boards but leave the worksheets as consumables, this way kids can write on them to do their math work.

The game is similar to tic-tac-toe 4-in-a-row. Maria's directions in pdf.

Yes, kids can cheat in this game because the answers are in the back of the worksheet or in the back of each game piece. But I make it clear that each person needs to show his work to the opponent. Cheaters cheat themselves. I don't care.

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  • September 11, 2012 7:46 PM Dan Bowdoin wrote:
    I have used the Kuta software before. This is a much more fun example of implementing it in the class as a ready made set of game questions. Thanks for the idea!
    Reply to this
    1. September 12, 2012 9:12 AM fawnnguyen wrote:
      That's what I think of the game, it turns a potentially boring worksheet into a social game that requires tic-tac-toe savviness. Thanks, Dan!
      Reply to this
  • September 12, 2012 9:46 AM Lea Ann Smith wrote:
    I like this, Fawn. I use Infinite Algebra 1 all the time and it is a great time saver. I really liked the looks of that block game, but I was also a little scared of all the cutting (and loosing) of pieces. I appreciate the short cut.
    Reply to this
    1. September 16, 2012 10:24 AM fawnnguyen wrote:
      Thanks, Lea Ann. I haven't found anything better than Kuta Software for generating practice skills worksheets. I have the Algebra 1 and Pre-Algebra CDs. 

      That's exactly what happened in Erin's class: a student found a game piece and Erin actually had to count through the sets to see which one was missing the piece!! 

      Reply to this
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