My kids always loved games that had them up and moving while playing. This was particularly true during my 2nd year of teaching when I had a class of all boys. They loved any type of game that resembled one of their personal favorites - basketball! With that in mind, I created this game as an easy (and non-disruptive) math center game, and they LOVED it!
The best part of this game is that it's really simple to set up, and you can use it with an endless amount of skills... simply switch out the 12 problems on the paper liners and you've got a new practice game. Easily adaptable games are my favorite, especially since I can create 3 different levels for each of my math groups in under 5 minutes!
- Muffin tin (I use one with 12 slots)
- Paper cupcake liners (2 per slot)
- 24 cotton balls (you can also use pompoms instead - 12 of one color and 12 of another color)
- 2 markers for coloring the cotton balls (see below)
- Piece of masking tape
- Pencils and scratch paper
Preparing for the game:
1. Decide which skill you'd like to have your students practice. This game works for almost anything you can think of (place value, rounding, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, fractions, decimals, etc.).
2. Write 12 problems aligned to that skill on the inside of each of the 12 paper liners, as shown below.
Here, I chose rounding numbers to tens, hundreds, and thousands. Students will have to round each number to the underlined digit.
3. Put an extra paper liner around the outside of each of the 12 cupcake liners and write the answer to each problem on the bottom of the liner, as shown below. The reason for doubling the liners is so that your students can't see through the liner to the answer.
4. If you are using cotton balls, you need to "color" them so that you have 12 of one color and 12 of another color. I just lightly dabbed the tops of them with marker, as shown below.
5. Find a designated space for the game. Place the muffin tin in its place and then put a line of tape a few feet back to designate where players will stand to throw their cotton balls. You may want to put the line closer to begin with and then move it back later on. Have your students try out a few tosses to get a feel for where the line should be for your students.
Playing the game:
Object of the game: To get your cotton balls in a straight line of 3 in the muffin tin slots (the line of 3 can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal).
How to play:
1. The player whose birthday is coming up next goes first.
2. Player 1 stands behind the line and tosses one of his/her cotton balls into the muffin tin.
- If Player 1's cotton ball does not land in any of the slots, Player 1's turn is over and Player 2 takes a turn.
- If Player 1's cotton ball does land in one of the slots, both players attempt to solve the problem shown on the paper liner in that slot. After solving, each player shares his/her answer and then turns over the paper liner to check for the correct answer.
- If Player 1 got the answer correct, he/she gets to keep his/her cotton ball inside that slot. Player 1 has now claimed that slot and his/her cotton ball cannot be removed. Note: Even if Player 2 also got the answer correct, Player 1 still gets to keep his/her cotton ball inside that slot.
- If Player 1 did not get the correct answer but Player 2 did get the correct answer, Player 2 gets to keep his/her cotton ball inside that slot. Player 2 now has claimed that slot.
- If both Player 1 and Player 2 did not get the correct answer, the paper liner is removed from that slot and no one can claim that slot for the rest of the game. That slot is out of play for the game.
3. Players continue to alternate turns until one player has claimed 3 slots in a line (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) with his/her cotton balls. That player is the winner!
Note: If a player tosses the cotton ball into a slot that has already been claimed, that player's turn is over (just the same as if he/she hadn't landed in a slot).
3 cotton balls in a line wins! The blue player is the winner!
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