Math. The mere mention of the word can trigger feelings of anxiety in students, and putting a positive spin on the subject can be a challenge. But, as always, you can get the class’ attention by making a game out of it! We’ve got four activities designed to breathe new life into your next math class.

MATHMAGICAL – The activity begins with each student multiplying their age by seven. The product is then multiplied by 1443 to reveal the student’s age repeated three times!

Alternatively, have students multiply the first number of his or her age by five (0 is used as the first number for students younger than 10). Next, add three and double that figure.  Finally, add on the second number of the student’s age and subtract six. The age is again revealed!

Similar computation games can be found on the Internet, but these two will get students started with the challenge of understanding how the final number was arrived at.

MATH VOLLEY – Hand each student a piece of tape and instruct them to scribble a math problem on it (preferably one that relates to what the class is currently studying).  Next, slap the beach ball into the air and ask whomever it hits to answer a question stuck to the ball. After a correct answer, he or she removes the piece of tape and replaces it with their own math problem. Keep the game going as long as you like!

SCAVENGER MATH – Gather up some old newspapers and magazines — this only takes a few minutes to prepare and promises to brush up each student’s researching skills!  Divide the classroom into groups, and instruct each of them to find, cut out and glue the following to a blank piece of paper:
  • A number greater than 100
  • A percentage
  • A number greater than 1000
  • A phone number
  • A zip code
  • A temperature
  • A time
  • A decimal
  • An age
  • A graph or chart
  • Parallel lines
  • Perpendicular lines
  • A rectangle
  • A circle
  • A triangle
ARCADE MATH – Use poster board and paper to set up skeeball booths in the classroom. Locate a long desk and tape the poster board at the edge of it against a wall.  Then, create a number line with values on each side of a centered “0” that run parallel to the long table. Students will then make skeeballs out of crumpled paper to roll at the poster board for points.

Rolls finding the right (positive) side of the line result in points, but those that end up on the left (negative) side will see deductions. No points are rewarded for balls that only find the floor! Students get five tries apiece; after the fifth roll each student divides his or her total score by a designated number to find out how many tickets they’ve won!

During these games, students will hone their skills in areas such as number lines, positive and negative integers, addition and subtraction, and division skills.