3 Surprising Reasons Why You Should Use Math Games
Elementary math games are a practical way to increase student engagement. They not only provide extra practice, but they have many other benefits.
Did you ever sit at your desk daydreaming about N’Sync while the teacher gave lectures? You sat there with a numb butt and mouth open, wondering what your teacher said. You glance down to find drool on your paper, realizing you missed part of the lecture.
Don’t get me wrong; I had some great teachers. But if I’m honest (which I always am), I can remember every single teacher giving me sit and spit instruction. I’m guilty of it as well.
There are many benefits to listening to instruction. But good teachers know that students have different learning styles. While some may enjoy listening to teachers, others may tune them out.
Using games in the classroom is one of the easiest ways to get your students engaged with math content. Below are the three benefits of playing math games.
1. Playing Math Games Build Community
Games allow your students to be social with their peers. This helps support a positive classroom community.
I always enjoy listening to my students play games together during the first few weeks of school. I’ll never forget my students David and Charlotte. They were timid and uncomfortable talking about math.
As soon as they began playing the game, Charlotte struggled to explain her thinking. David worked to empathize with her and help her put her thinking into words. It wasn’t long until they began giggling. I tuned in to see what was going on. They were giggling because they shared the same thought process.
Playing games with your students can also help you get to know them as well. They get the opportunity to see you make mistakes, be silly, and share stories. Modeling making mistakes conveys the message that it’s okay to take risks. This supports the growth mindset – which students need for creativity.
2. Games Increase Student Engagement
Motivation and attitude are two different things. A motivated student may want to do well, but they may have a negative attitude about math. This will affect their level of engagement.
By giving students a choice, you’ll improve their attitude approaching the subject. This keeps them interested! High interest and positive attitudes increase student engagement and have high yield results.
Engagement is the link to motivation – motivated learners are better learners. Motivate your students to interact with the subject by offering a variety of games.
At the end of the day, I allow my students to pick their game and deck of cards. They are eager to pick their partners and get started so they can show off their skills. Sometimes, I have a hard time getting them to stop when I ring the bell – it’s a nice problem to have!
3. Playing Games in Math Improve Self Efficacy
Self-efficacy is a personal judgment of “how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations.” In other words – self-efficacy is the student’s attitude towards problem-solving. When students play involved math games, they have a longer response time.
This allows them to try different approaches to the problem until they find a solution. When elementary math games are self-checking, there is a low-risk involved. This builds confidence in students.
Margaret was a student of mine who lacked self-efficacy in math. Her self-esteem was so low that she would cringe at the thought of doing math in school. I wanted to help her, so I let her check out some games to take home to play with her parents.
I instructed her parents to lose every game. I explained that they should talk out their problems so that Margaret could see them try. They followed through. When Margaret won, she was over the moon!
I’ll never forget when she came to school one day with a huge grin and said, “Mrs. Barnett, I beat my dad! I’m so good at this!”
From that moment on, she began playing games in the class with the other students. Although it wasn’t always easy, she persevered in problem-solving.
At last, playing elementary math games has many more benefits. These are the few most important. What are some other important benefits of playing elementary math games?
By the way, if you’re looking for math games, I have a TON available in my Teachers Pay Teacher shop. These include digital math games and my best-selling paper math games.