Tangram is an ancient Chinese game that is also known as "the wisdom puzzle." The
objective of this puzzle is to fit together the seven pieces, called tans, (shown below) so
that they form a given shape.
Many shapes are possible. Several possibilities are shown below:
You must use all seven tans, and they must lay flat. They must touch, and none may
overlap. The tangrams fit into a very small characteristic of the game, but allow geometry
to be used in correspondence with other concepts.
We would split the class into 4- 6 groups. Each would have a magnetic set of tangrams
placed on the white board/chalkboard as well as a packet of possible questions that could
be asked throughout the game. Each group sends a representative to the board. They are
given one of the questions. Everyone in the class completes the questions, while helping
their representative at the board. When a rep is finished, he/she yells done and takes a
seat. The first group to finish with a correct answer is rewarded with a point and 15
seconds to work toward a predetermined tangram puzzle shape. If they complete the
tangram, they receive three points. If not, there progress is left on the board until the next
round. As each tangram is completed, the team gets a new puzzle. The team at the end
of the period with the most points wins. The class as a whole will hand in their
2. ACADEMIC BASEBALL
This game could be used with almost any unit being covered. The class would be split
into 2 teams of equal number. One team is in the field and one team is at bat (I would
suggest flipping a coin-authentic and saves arguing time). The batter is asked by the
pitcher to pick the level of difficulty of question whether it be single, double, triple or
home run. Both teams will haven been supplied with the problems in each category, but
it is up to the pitcher to pick which question is used. If the student answers correctly, the
appropriate move is made on the baseball diamond (as drawn in some kind of
powerpoint, on the board, smartboard, etc or actually physically done). Other runners
already on base would move respectively. If the question is answered incorrectly, it is
considered a flyball, and goes to a player on the “field” team. If the field player answers
correctly, the ball is considered caught, and batter counted as out. A point is subtracted
from the runner’s team for each out. If the outfielder answers incorrectly, its considered
a “walk” and the batter proceeds to first base. It could be played using three outs, or it
could simply alternate between teams.
3. ACADEMIC FOOTBALL
Again, the class would be split into two groups. A member of the offense is asked by the
umpire to pick the level difficulty of the question, between 10-40 yards in increments of
10. If the student answers correctly, the ball progresses that many yards. If it is
incorrect, the question is considered a “bad pass” and given to the defense. Answering the
question correctly gives the defense the opportunity to "sack the quarterback" for a ten
yard loss when the offense picks a 10-yard question, or to intercept a 20, 30, or 40-yard
pass play when the respective pass play was selected. Sacking a quarterback in the
offensive endzone is worth 2 points. If the defensive player answers incorrectly, the play
continues as an incomplete, and the play continues without a yard change. After each
touchdown, the ball begins on the offensive team’s 20 yard line. An offensive team has 4
downs to gain 10 yards or more. If 10 yards are attained in 4 or less downs, then the
offensive team is awarded another 4 downs to gain 10 yards or more. There are no
fieldgoals. On fourth down, the offensive team can select to punt. No question is asked
on a punt. The defensive gains possession of the ball on their 20 yard line. Each
touchdown is equal to 7 points.
4. ACADEMIC HANGMAN
This game can be conducted in one of two ways. It can be used in order to review math
vocabulary or history. It can also be used as a review game in order to cover multiple
concepts. The class is split into 5-6 teams. Each sends a representative to the board. All
are given the same question. The first person to finish with the correct answer gets a
guess for a letter on the hangman. Each team has a different hangman board with a
different, yet equally difficult word. A completed hangman is equal to 3 points. I really
believe that the classic version of this game used with vocabulary would be more
successful, however, it is possible this way as well.
5. GEOMERTY TWISTER
This game takes more in teacher preparation but is a fun way to get the classroom
actively moving and participating. The teacher would create a spinner of names of
shapes and/or easy trigonometry conversions. The answers/pictures of these would be on
the corresponding twister mat. Each team selects a representative to play. The team may
choose to alternate team players at any time, though they HAVE to alternate 3 questions.
If for some reason they choose to alternate before then, they will have to use one of the 5
timeouts allotted to each team. The teacher will have multiple spinners, covering maybe
a range of 30-50 problems and removable Velcro answers on the mat so that after
finishing a spinner, the problems can be traded out. The mat and spinner can be as large
as seen fit.
6. ACADEMIC BINGO
This is a take off of the classic. Each student is given 1-2 bingo cards. The teacher calls
out a problem. She allots one minute for the class to work it out and mark their cards as
necessary. The problems used are written on the board (without answers) so that when
someone shouts BINGO, the corresponding problems can be checked. This can really be
used for a range of subject matters and can last anywhere from one round to a whole class
7. ACADEMIC BASKETBALL
This game once again, covers a plethora of subject matters and also completes the
complete collection of academic sports. Here, the class can be split into 2-4 teams. A
question is given at the board. The first person to finish with the correct answer receives
a point. They are then given the “basketball.” They have three baskets from which to
choose, all at different distances apart. If they aim for the farthest and make it, they
receive three points; however if they miss, they lose the point received for the question
they got right in the first place. If they aim for the middle basket and succeed, they
receive two points; however, again, if they miss, they lose the point won from the
question. If they aim for the closest basket and make the shot, they receive 1 point;
however, if they miss, they simply keep the point made from the problem and move on.
It gives the students a chance to test their gambling skills as well as their math skills.
8. FLY SWATTER
Once again, the class is split into two teams. Each sends a representative to the board. A
problem is given to the class as well as the representatives. Each representative has in
his/her hand a fly swatter. As the students solve the problem, in front of them attached to
the board are notecards with possible answers; they hit the answer with their fly swatter.
The first rep to hit the correct answer wins a point. If both hit an incorrect answer, a
different problem is given to the same two. At the end of the game, the entire team’s
papers are collected. The team with the most number of correct answers for all the
questions asked throughout the game double their teams score. The team with the most
9. RAT RACE
The class is split into 2-4 different teams. The teams sit in a single file line. A different
problem of equal difficulty is written on the board in front of each team’s line. At the
sound of buzzer, the first person in line comes to the board, completing only the first step
of the problem. Once they are back in their seat, the next person runs to the board and
completes the next step. A next step; however, could be correcting a mistake a previous
team member made. The team who completes the problem first correctly, gets 5 points.
This activity ensures that each student understands the problems and the different ways of
approaching a solution.
10. FAMILY (OR FRIEND) FUED
Again, this is another game that can be formatted to fit many categories of study. Fit the
class into teams of between 4-6 players. Each team will select a team captain. The team
captains are the first player up to answer a question. The question is posed and the
captains are given a time limit to work through the problem. The first team captain to
raise his/her hand will get a chance to answer. If they are correct and answer within 5
seconds, they receive the point. If the person called does not answer within 5 seconds, or
answers incorrectly, the next team to raise their hand can “steal” the question. If they
answer correctly within the time limit, they receive the point. If they answer incorrectly,
the next team steals the question, and so on. The team that answers the question
correctly gets the chance to answer the next question, although it is now asked to the next
person in line. An incorrect answer passes the question to the second player on the next
team to raise their hands first. It works just like round one. In the end, the team with the
most points wins.
11. WILL THE WINNERS LOSE?
Once again, this game can be formatted for whatever kind of material is necessary.
Before the game, create a stack of 25 cards with different point scoring options, such as
lose the next turn, earn 10 points, earn 50 points, take 10 points and another turn, etc.
Split the class into as many teams as necessary to keep the game under control. Again,
the list of possible problems should be handed out to the class. Each team will pick the
person to take the next turn. If the answer correctly, they receive ten points and a chance
to draw a card. If they answer incorrectly, the first rep from another team to raise their
hand (or some variation of that) has the opportunity to steal the question. The point
totaling would correspond with the cards. The team with the most points at the end wins.
12. FINDING YOUR OTHER HALF
This particular activity is probably more geared towards handwritten math problems such
as equations, inequalities, etc. It also takes a certain amount of pre-class teacher
preparation. The teacher would take an equal number of note cards to the number of
students in the class and add one. (i.e 30 students-31 note cards). The first card would
have a problem on it. The second card would have the answer to the first question on one
side, and then another question on the other side. The next card would have the answer
to that question as well as the next question on the other side, and so on. At the
beginning of the class, the teacher would shuffle the cards and distribute one to each
student. The teacher would keep the first question card to read herself. Once the
questions is read, the person with the answer would stand up. They would then read their
questions, and find their respective answer card holder, and so on. This activity ensures
that everyone is participating and understanding the material.
13. WHITE BOARD REVIEW
Although this activity is pretty self explanatory, it is an easy way to make sure that all the
students understand what’s going on. It also allows the teacher to pinpoint the specific
needs of each student. A teacher simply has to ask a question and ask the students to
reveal either both the students’ work and answer, or just an answer. It is a simple
activity, but it is easily time controlled and manipulated by the teacher.
14. MATCHING FUN
This is a repeat of a childhood classic; it can be used for basics such as matching
fractions with their decimal values. You can also use it to match answers with equations,
graphs with equations, etc. Each student gets to take a turn to turn over 2 cards, hoping
to match the two cards. It’s a game of memory. As more turns are taken, students will
get more of an opportunity to learn where corresponding cards are located.
15. AROUND THE WORLD
This is a competitive speed test of skill. Again, it can really be formatted to whatever
kind of material needs to be covered. Students are lined up in some sort of pattern. The
first student goes to stand behind the next person in line. The students are both given the
same question. The first student to answer the questions correctly moves on to stand
behind the next person. The person who loses will remain sitting in the same location.
The person who moves the most spots will be considered the reigning champion.
16. MATH JENGA
Yes-this is the classic spin off of the game JENGA. The teacher will need to take some
preparation time. On the bottom of each block, the instructor will tape a question
(making an answer key on a separate sheet). The class will be split into two teams. Each
team will select a different person for each turn. The team member will carefully
withdraw a block and attempt to answer the question. With a question answered
correctly, the student will be allowed to replace the block wherever they wish, with
permission to use his/her hands to support the structure in order to return the brick. A
question answered correctly will give the team one point. If it is answered incorrectly,
the team must keep the brick. The teams will alternate turns and players. At the end of
the period, the team with the most bricks loses. Both teams must create a sheet of
corrections for the bricks in their possession. If the team knocks down the structure
within their turn, they lose 10 points and the game can begin another round.
17. MUSICAL PROBLEMS
Once again, this game can be formatted to fit the needs of the material needing review.
However, it is best suited for some kind of mathematical material that needs manipulation
and computation. A circle of chairs is set up with a problem on each seat. (once again
this game will take some teacher preparation with creating a list of problems on sheets of
paper; however, part of the activity could include students creating the problems for the
game themselves as a sort of review homework assignment the night before). The
teacher plays music as the students circle the desks. This changes from the original
musical chairs as there are enough desks for every student. The last person to solve the
problem, whether wrong or right and put their paper on the ground beside them, then
loses their desk and is out of the game. The last person standing wins.
18. CPS (CLASSROOM PERFORMANCE SYSTEM)
Again, this method is rather self explanatory. Although not as creative as some to the
other “game” activities, it is a sure way for teachers to monitor students strengths and
weaknesses when it comes to material being covered for the class. The teacher can again
monitor the speed at which students answer and who answers right or wrong. It also
ensures that every student answers without embarrassing them given that they have a
wrong answer. This method can be formatted for several different standards and areas of
The Smartboard opens the door for many different kinds of interactive games and
activities for the classroom. It is again a way for the teacher to communicate with the
students and make sure that every student has a chance to participate and understand the
material being reviewed. Smartboard can be used for unit reviews, or just everyday
activities and review.
20. SCAVENGER HUNT
This activity is really multifaceted. For geometric purposes, the teacher can compile a
worksheet with a list of geometric shapes and things to do with those geometric shapes.
Split the class into groups of two or three people. Send the students out into the school to
complete their scavenger hunt. Ask them to not only answer the questions, but to
describe what item made the shape, and where in the school they found it. Another use
of a scavenger hunt takes more preparation on behalf of the teacher. Create a list of
problems. Print them out onto different colored strips of paper, each color representing
another team. Plant the problems around the school. At the start of the search, supply the
class with three clues as to where the first problem is. When they find the problem, bring
it back to the classroom. When they have reached the correct answer, supply them with
the clue to find the next problem, and so on and so on. The team to find all 10 problems
and solve them correctly first wins.
21. BLACK TIE EVENT
This activity takes a lot of outside materials and effort on the teachers part, but proves to
be pretty successful and a fun way to get the kids up and moving. The teacher will need
to gather a few sets of suits, shoes, socks, hats, shirts, and pants. Split the class into
groups of 5-10 people, depending on the number of sets of clothing available. Each team
will need to pick one team member who will be going to the “ball” or formal. The teams
will be given slips of paper identifying an article of clothing that will also have a
mathematics problem of some kind on it. As the teams complete the problems, they need
to run the strips of paper to the front of the room and place them under their section of the
board. If the teacher approves their answer, their team rep then gets to put on that article
of clothing. If the answer is incorrect, they simply have to take it back and rework the
problem. This process continues, the first two teams have their person dressed, having
answered the questions correctly. These two teams’ reps will then “go to the ball.” This
basically means that the two reps go up against one another on one problem. The first rep
to answer the question correctly wins the round for their team.
22. RED ROVER RECRUITER
Again, this game is more of a template for a review game of any material seen fit. Here,
the class is split into two teams. Each team determines an order for which one member
will be sent to the board. Both reps are given a problem on the board. The person who
finishes first is said to have won the round. The winning team, then gets to pick a
member of the losing team to join their team. The winning team gets one point. If the
question is answered incorrectly, the losing team not only loses a member but loses a
point. The object is to eventually have the two teams conform to one. The original
members of the team that ended up surviving wins. The points are really pointless as the
teams slowly become one, but it is an interesting way to see how the game juggled back
and forth between the two teams. It allows the students to see the pattern in which the
teams traded, won a round, or lost a round.
23. LUCK OF THE DRAW
This game can be used as a template for manipulative problems throughout several
different units and course loads. It does not work for one word answers such as
vocabulary or history questions. The teacher will assemble a list of around 25 problems
(or as many as he/she sees fit) and creates four lists of the problems (without answers), as
well as an answer key for herself, and a copy of each problem on its own piece of paper.
Create a bag or bowl to hold all the strips of paper, making sure that the problem cannot
be seen by those reaching in. The class is split into 4 teams, each assigned a different
colored marker or pencil to use to solve their problems. Pick a team to go first. The first
team pulls a problem from the bag. The team gets 30 seconds to begin work on the
problem using their colored pencil. At the end of the 30 seconds, if the question is not
completed, the paper is folded up and put back into the shuffle. Each team takes a turn.
If after 30 seconds a team correctly answers a question, they receive 3 points. As the
games go, the teams will begin to pull problems that have already been started by other
teams or themselves. If they pull a problem that has already been started and complete it
in 30 seconds, they receive 2 points. If the team working finds an error in the previous
work, given that it was not their own teams’ work, they will receive 1 point. The game
continues until all the questions have been answered. As the questions are answered
correctly, they are taken out of the shuffle. Each person will have a packet of all the
questions gone over in the game to keep for their own practice and record.
24. SINK OR SWIM?
The class is split into 2-3 teams. Each team has a basin of water with some kind of
floating device inside. On the board there are three columns of cards: easy, moderate,
and difficult. Each team takes a turn. They pick a category and are given a problem. If
the problem is answered correctly, the next team takes their turn. If they answer
incorrectly, if they picked easy, moderate, or hard, they will receive a penny, nickel, or
quarter respectively to put in their boat. The last team with their boat still afloat wins the
game. If a time restraint is present, then the boat with the least amount of coins at the end
of the period wins the game.
25. CROSSWORD PUZZLE
Although very simple minded, crossword puzzles are an easy way for students to review
vocabulary terms and factual mathematic information on an individual basis. Perhaps
give out a crossword puzzle at the beginning of the unit, and if students can hand it in
completed and 100% correct the day of the test, they receive 3 extra points on their test
grade, or just 3 points to add on to their overall grade. It’s an easy way for teachers to
evaluate students’ knowledge on a private and individual basis.
Origami a multifolded piece of paper is both a piece of art and a geometric figure. There
are several websites with origami outlines that a teacher can work on with a class. The
in-class part of this activity involves actually making the origami model. However, as the
folding progresses, the teacher can engage the class by asking them what kind of triangle
they are making with each fold. As a homework assignment, ask the students to unfold
their work and take a look at the complex geometric pattern. Give them a list of triangles
to find in their work. Then ask them how many different ways they can combine these
triangles to create other shapes (different kinds of quadrilaterals). It allows students to
become more away of triangles as well as different kinds of quadrilaterals, while giving
them a fun piece of true Chinese culture to take home.
27. CLASSMATES SQAURES
This game is a classic take off of the popular game “Hollywood Squares.” Pick first the
students who want to be “in” the squares of the game. Great a tic-tac-toe board on the
board and write each students name inside each square at the top. Have these students
stand as a panel at the front of the room. Then divide the rest of the class into two teams.
Each team must pick an order in which their players will take a turn. Flipping a coin,
pick which team will take the first turn. Ask the student to please pick a square and a
category. The categories will have to do with the material you are presenting, such as
vocabulary, trig identities, conversions, solving for x linear equations, graphing, etc. Ask
a student a question from their chosen category. The student has about 1-2 minutes to
answer. The “square” that they chose should also be working through the problem. The
student will answer and the square will either agree or disagree (not say their answer).
The player may choose to stick with their answer, or take on the answer of their square.
If they end up with the correct answer, they get to place their “x” or their “o”
accordingly. The game continues until someone has hit tic-tac-toe.
28. WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?
Another take off from a popular game show, this game requires some teacher preparation.
The teacher will need to create questions to act as each dollar amounted increment,
increasing in difficulty as the amount goes up. Split the class into two teams. Each select
their first representative to play. They come to the podium and game starts. The game
acts as a multiple choice. The two players start at the same time. The player continues
until he gets a question wrong, or chooses to switch teammates. They must switch every
3 questions. If a student answers incorrectly, the game restarts with new questions for the
dollar amounts starting from the bottom. As with the game show, they cannot select
which question they get, but they do have a choice of phoning a friend (in this case a
team mate), 50/50, and majority rules (they can pole their teammates). The teacher acts
as the host. The first team to make it all the way through the million dollar mark wins.
It’s a fun way to get the whole class paying attention and participating.
29. WEAKEST LINK
This game can actually be formatted to fit the entire class, in that every student can play.
It can also once again be formatted to fit most areas of study. Split the class into two
teams. Each team will line up their first round 9 students. The first question is asked of
the first person whose last name comes first alphabetically on each team. If they answer
correctly, they get the first valued link. The second person is asked the second question,
and so on. The idea is to get nine links in a row to win the most money. If a contestant
answers wrong, the chain is broken and the money value has to start all over again. At
this point, the student who answered incorrectly must switch out with a new player from
the team. The links start over at the bottom. However, if a contestant says “bank” before
the question is asked, no matter if he/she gets the question wrong or right, the amount is
saved “in the bank” and will stay safe until the next link. The team to complete nine
links first wins that round. The round can then start again.
This game requires teacher preparation in creating a list of categories and questions for
those categories. This follows the same rules as usual game of jeopardy, but allows every
one to participate and ensures that every player is paying attention. Once again, split the
class into 3 teams. Each team must select their first player to come to the front.
Determine which team will be picking first. This player will select a category and an
amount. The team reps are allotted a certain amount of time to answer. The teams
should be working through the problems as well. The first team to buzz in with the
correct answer earns the points associated with the question. However, if a student gets a
question wrong, he/she switches with the next teammate to come play. Before a new
student is allowed to take the podium he/she must list the correct answers to the questions
that preceded their joining of the game. If they cannot, their team loses 200 points, but
the student is permitted to stay and play.
Split your class into two teams. Before the game, the teacher will have made cards with
vocabulary words on them and a list of terms that cannot be used as a clues. Each team
creates some kind of order in which their players will play. Flip a coin to see what team
goes first. The first team will send over to the other side of the room, their first
teammate. This teammate will pick out a card and will get one minute to try to describe
the word to their teammates in hopes that someone will guess the word. The teammate
playing, cannot use any of the other words listed on the card as clues. The opposing team
will watch the card to make sure that they don’t. Each correctly guessed word in the time
limit gets a point. If they team does not guess the word in the correct time frame, or the
teammate uses a forbidden word, their turn is over, and the next team takes the floor. The
team with the most points at the ends wins. This is truly a great way to go over
vocabulary or other factual mathematical information.
In this game the students split up into two teams. Each sends a representative to the
board. The representative writes their name above their work on the board. As soon as
the representative completes the problem, they must race across the room where there lies
an eraser. They must then race back and erase their name. The first player to have erased
their name and have a correct answer on the board wins that round and 2 points for the
team. If they erase their name first, but do not have a correct answer, the will receive one
point, but the next person from the team must jump in to write their name on the board
and finish the problem, completing the same task. If they complete this and win the race,
they will receive another two points. If they do not, they simply receive the one point
from the original player. If the team only gets the answer, but does not win the race, they
receive one point. After both teams have achieved a correct answer, the next player steps
in and the next round starts. The team with the most points wins. Again, this can format
any kind of material as necessary.
33. MOTHER MAY I?
A spin off of a classic childhood game, the teacher can split the class into as many teams
as she wants; preferably with teams consisting of only 6 students. Each team will select a
“run order” as well as a team spokesman. Team runners must line up at the line. A
question is asked by mother, “For 3 steps forward, answer this question:….” The team
who can work together and find the answer, raising their hand and saying “Mother may
I?” first, gets the first opportunity to answer the question. With a correct answer, that
team may travel the allotted distance. If the question is not answered correctly, it goes
back into circulation for a later time. The first team to have completed, go back and forth
5 times, wins the game; however, at the beginning of each new leg, the team spokesman
and runner must change. The team works as a whole for the answer, the spokesman is
just the person to say “mother may I?” Again, this will work best with practice problems
that require pencil and paper work.
34. WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Another spin off of a classic game show, here the class is split into three teams, each
getting a buzzer. In front of them is a spinner, resembling the “Wheel of Fortune” wheel.
Each team picks a representative to send to answer first. The teams take turns spinning
the wheel. The first team spins first to determine the value of the question. The teacher
poses a question. The first team to buzz in, gets to answer first. If they answer
incorrectly, they lose that turn. It goes to the next question. If they answer correctly they
receive the value of points spun, as well as turn to guess one constant on the board. The
board will describe a category and will have a hidden phrase. If the team guesses a
correct constant, they receive 200 points. Teams can also buy a vowel for 100 points,
however, if they guess correctly they receive 300 points back. After each round, the
player from each team alternates. The team with the most points at the end of a 15
minute round wins. However, if a team is able to solve the word puzzle, they
automatically win that round. At the beginning of a new round, the point totals go back
down to zero and the game begins again.
35. 1000 LOCKER PROBLEM
This activity is more of a hands-on problem that will challenge the students brains. Take
your students outside and unlock the number of lockers equivalent to the number of
students in the class. All the lockers are shut and unlocked. Suppose the first student
goes along and opens every locker. The second student goes along and shuts every other
locker beginning with the second locker. The third student then goes along and changes
the state of every third locker beginning with the third locker ( if it is open, close it, if it is
closed, open it). The fourth student changes the state of every fourth locker beginning
with the fourth locker…and so on. Have the students continue on this pattern to see, in
the end, which lockers are open and which lockers are closed. Then pose the question to
them, if there were a 1000 lockers and a 1000 students, which would be open and which
would be closed? This problem pushes the algebraic learning and reasoning of the
36. M &M’S LAB
This is very specific to the pre-calculus area of mathematics. It focuses on the ideas of
population and half-life. This first part is one which examines growth, and the second
examines decay. For the growth experiment the students are instructed to start with 4 M
& M's in a cup. They then shake the cup and pour out the M & M's on their desk. Next
they count the pieces of candy which have the "M" showing while they lie on the table.
For every "M" showing the students add one more candy, put all the M & M's back into
the cup, and repeat the experiment again for five more times. Each time the students
record the trial number and the number of M & M's that go back into the cup. After
plotting the points it is evident that the exponential growth curve has been achieved. In
the decay experiment the students are instructed to fill a small cup with M & M's about
3/4 of the way full. Again shake the cup, pour out the contents, and count the candies
which show an "M". This time, they remove the same number of M & M's which
corresponds to the number they just found in the previous step. This same procedure
continues for seven total trials or until they are out of M & M's. Plotting this data should
show an excellent example of the exponential decay curve. Although the M&Ms really
have nothing to do with the experiment, it is a fun way to get kids involved, especially
when there’s candy involved.
37. TV SURVIVOR LAB
This is a different kind of activity because you can actually have it physically last the
entire unit time when you are study statistics. Split the class into 2 different tribes.
Arrange their seats that unit to be sitting with their tribe mates. Each player has a die.
Each week a player will be removed from the tribe and forced to sit in a regular seat. The
dice will be used to simulate the voting to remove contestants each week. Everyone, on a
given die, gets a die and stands up. When told to role, everyone rolls the die to determine
his/her removal from the island that week. They may stay on the island if they roll a 1
through 5, but are removed if they roll a 6. Once removed, you cannot roll the die again.
The process continues until only one person remains standing. Meanwhile, students
should be keeping track of data. For each week, record the number of people remaining
on each tribe. (2 different tables). This activity may need 2 days a week, or less than
once a week, depending on how fast the number so students disintegrates. As a last
assignment, ask students to graph their data and draw conclusions.
38. STATISTICS SEARCH
This activity really could be considered a project that students may need time to
complete. It directly relates to the study of statistics in high school mathematics. Ask the
students to come up with something they are passionate about that they could poll fellow
students and teachers on, whether it be how often they watch TV, how many times they
have been out of the country, etc. The data must be something that can collect a number
value, not yes or no questions. As them to poll at least 100-150 people, friends and family
included. Then format them with an assignment having to do with formatting their
information in several different kinds of graphs, and evaluating the data in several
different ways. The activity will grab their attention because it has to with something
they are interested in while also teaching them how to collect and interpret data.
39. SHADOW TRIANGLES
Probably every high school math teacher has used this activity just once, however, it is a
good way to get students actively involved in collecting data and making a connection
between similar triangles. Give the students the height of an actual object close to them,
such as flagpole, tree, telephone pole, etc. Ask the students to at some point, measure the
length away from this object, and the height of the object’s shadow. Ask them to then
evaluate the similar triangles by asking them different kinds of questions, forcing them to
work through they data they have collected. The students may pick to measure the
shadow at any time after 12 pm. The day the assignment is due, compare the data the
collected depending on the time of day it was. It is an easy way for visual learners to
learn about similar shapes and triangles.
40. TIME TEST
This is an old version that most elementary school teachers use in order to make sure
students know their multiplication tables, however, it can also be a good way in order to
make sure that students are keeping up with their mental math. Time tests are a good
way to make sure students can identify vocabulary words, geometric figures, solving
easier linear equations, trig identities, and factoring (FOILING).
41. RING AROUND THE ROSY
Here, the class is split into two teams, with each team assembling some kind of circle.
Each circle is given a page of problems (the same number of problems as players for each
team). The paper starts with one person. The first person solves one problem (not
necessarily the first one) and then passes the paper to the next person. If a person cannot
finish a problem that they start, they simply must sit out in the middle of the circle as they
have “fallen down.” The paper then proceeds to the next person. The team to first finish
their paper, wins that round. The team members still left at the close of the round each
get some sort of prize. The people left sitting in the middle do not. It’s a good way for
teachers to see who understands the material, while not necessarily singling them out one
42. FINDING SURFACE AREA AND VOLUME
Split students into partnerships. Each partnership should draw on their piece of paper a
cube of some dimension, either 1x1x1, 2x2x2,3x3x3, etc. What they don’t know is that
they will be using this cube in order to help them find the volume of the classroom. Each
partnership will be given a meter stick or some kind of measuring device with which they
can measure the dimensions of the room. Using this information, the students will then
find the volume of the room and the surface area of the room. They will then use the
cube they created and find the volume using that cube as well. Students can hand in the
assignment, or present their findings and compare the results they came up with.
43. THE STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER
This activity may not be the most creative of all assignments, but it allows the students to
participate in something they would not normally. The students will be paired up on one
day. They will have either that class, or as a homework assignment, the chance to create
their own test and answer key. They will then trade papers with their partner and have
the chance to take that test. They will then get their partners test back and “grade” it
based on the answer key. They will need to go over their partner’s mistakes and teach
them how to correct them. Many students learn best from teaching other students; this
activity opens up that door while also ensuring they understand the material themselves.
44. REAL FISHING
For this game, the teacher is required to do a bit more preparation work than with some of
the other activities. With this game, there need to be a number of poles corresponding
with the number of teams the classes will be split up into. The poles will have a piece of
string attached to the end with a magnetic at the end. It is the classic repeat of
magnetized fishing. However, the fish that the teacher creates will have problems on
them (only on one side). Some of the fish will be “infected fish” and some of the fish
will be “a bunch of fish.” Each fish will also have a point allotment that corresponds
with the difficulty of the question. Each team will need to fish as fast as they can. As
teams catch, they will need to answer the question on the back of the fish. They cannot
return any fish they might catch. The team with the most fish when there are no fish left,
will automatically receive 5 points. However, the answers will be checked for
correctness. If they have the answer correct, they get to keep the fish and receive the
corresponding points. If it is incorrect, the fish goes back in the pond. Answers are
checked for each team. However, if they caught an infected fish, all the fish they have
caught go back in the pond. Round two begins with the teams fishing for the remaining
fish. As these rounds continue like this, the team with the most points wins the game.
45. SPINNER PROBABILITY
This is a short probability game aimed more for the statistical part of the units in pre-
calculus. Here, each student will make their own spinner consisting of anywhere
between 3-6 areas of different colors. Ask the students to record what percentage of the
circle is each color. Then, have them begin to spin the spinner and keep record of how
many spins land on each color, and how many spins they have in total. The column of
color percentage of the circle is considered their theoretical percentage. The percent
made by the number of spins landing on each color is the experimental percentage. This
chart allows them to compare the relationship between the two percentages. They can
then compare their results with classmates, whose theoretical percentages would be
different, but whom should still come up with the same pattern.
46. LINEAR EQUATIONS GAME
Though this game is geared more toward the lower level secondary grades, it really helps
to reinforce linear equations; it can be used for one or two variables. Split the cards in
half, lettering two with A, two with B, two with C and so on. On one card write an
equation in one variable or two. On the second card, write another expression of that
variable. (Example card A1 has 4x+2-8x and card A2 has 3x) When it comes time to
play, shuffle the cards and deal one to each student. Ask students to pair up with the
classmate that has his/her matching letter (the A’s go together, the B’s and so on) and ask
them to solve the equation. At the end of the time period, call each lettered pair up to the
board and ask them to explain how they solved their equation. If they did it correctly,
they win that round. As many rounds can be played as seen necessary.
47. CAN YOU THINK FOR YOURSELF?
With this activity, teachers can format it to fit whatever kind of material they want to
cover. For a math game, have the students answer their questions in their math
notebooks as a way to review. The teacher will make up enough cards for the number of
people in class which will either say “player” or “manipulator.” 4 signs will also need to
be made with poster board, one saying A, one saying B, one saying C, and one saying D.
The cards will be handed out and students will be asked to look at the card privately. The
teacher will then pose a question and write the possible answers on the board in multiple
choice form, A, B,C or D. The students will then find the answer and go stand in the
corner of the answer they believe to be correct. The students with the “player” cards
actually go the corner with the answer they believe, while the “manipulators” pick an
answer they do not believe to be correct. The idea is for these people to throw off those
actually playing. It forces students to stand strong by what they believe to be the answer,
rather than following the pack. It also is a fun way to practice for multiple choice test
48. WORD PROBLEM WORLD
A simple idea, this problem helps the visual learner grasp an area in math that is heavy in
reading. When focusing on some kind of word problems, no matter the unit, split the
class into groups of 2 or 3 people. The assignment is to then go out and take pictures of
things that might inspire word problems. The group would then create 2-5 word
problems on their own to bring back into class with the pictures that they have taken.
Example: A sign stating how many miles to a certain town, and a speed limit sign might
inspire a word problem having to do with acceleration, linear equations, speed, etc. It
would be up to the students to manipulate the information into problems that have to do
with the unit they are learning.
49. HEADS UP SEVEN UP
This is a take off of another classic game, although it now adds the element of review to
the mix. The teacher makes flashcards of problems. She randomly flashes the cards at
students until she has accumulated 7 right answers for 7 different questions. These seven
students head to the front of the room. The rest of the class puts their head down and
thumbs up. The seven people walk around and pick one person’s thumb to push down.
When the seven up are back to the front of the room, ask the other students to open their
eyes and stand up if there thumb had been depressed. Instead of having them guess who
tapped them, show them a flashcard and ask them to solve it. If they answer correctly,
whoever pushed their thumb down takes a seat and the person standing takes their place.
If they are incorrect, they simply take a seat and the one seven up’er is safe.
50. HOMEMADE EQUATIONS
This is fun way to get students working on both equations and graphs. A teacher creates
between 50-70 algebraic expressions and constants, such as 3x, 4, x, y, z, 3y, etc. on note
cards and then puts the note cards on one table in the front of the room. The class is split
up into teams of 4-5 people. The idea is for the team to accumulate as many points as
possible in just one turn. Each team member has the opportunity to pick out a card. If
only two people pick out a card, it means a correct answer would result in 2 points. The
last person to pick out a card, has their expression preceded by an = sign. Therefore, if
person one picks 3x, and person two picks x, their equation would be as follows: 3x=x.
After the number of people pick out the number of cards they want to combine, they go
the teacher and flip a coin, heads being “solve” and tails being “graph”. They would then
need to solve the equation or graph the equation. For a correct answer with two cards
involved, the point total would be two, for three cards, three, and etc. The idea is for the
team to gather as many points as they want, but in doing so, they would have to create for
themselves harder equations.