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Using Games in Teaching Mathematics – A Review of Useful Games

By the mid-1970s in Queensland, most students continued in high school until year ten. Every student was expected to do Mathematics. Consequently, teachers were faced with students taking Mathematics who were not Maths-logical and who saw Mathematics as no use for them. Thus it became imperative for the teacher of Mathematics to find ways to create interest and excitement in the subject.

I used films, such as “Donald Duck in Mathmagicland”, ABC Television Mathematics broadcasts and games as well as the traditional pedagogues used in the teaching of Mathematics. To many of my colleagues, what I did was unconventional. Some even felt I was just having “easy” lessons. In fact, often these lessons required more preparation and teacher involvement.

The Regional Advisory Teacher for Mathematics thought what I was doing should be published to show teachers it could be done with good results. So the original version of this article was at the request of the regional advisory teacher for Mathematics and then published in Brisbane West F95zone Region Secondary Maths Newsletter in 1978.

Let me tell you how I used some of the commercially produced games*. The purpose of this article is to review a number of commercially produced games. Some of the games I used were:


As the name suggests, this game is about creating and using equations. It is akin to Scrabble. Initially, I only allowed my classes to use addition and subtraction with whole numbers in creating equations. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, I was using the game mostly with low achievers. These simple operations made for a faster game giving students more opportunities to create equations. That still allowed the students to get an understanding of the concept of an equation. Secondly, if the other operations and decimals and fractions were used, the game would take much longer to play and for the students to check if the equations produced were correct. It would necessitate much more teacher intervention. In the simple game the students score by simply adding up the number of tiles they have used.


This game is useful in developing graphing concepts (e. g. ordered pair, grids) as well as the concepts of negative numbers. To speed up the game the number of pegs used by the students is reduced to one or two.


This was the most popular game in my classes. Five students can play in this game, with one player being the banker. The banker will need pen and paper and perhaps a calculator to carry out the calculations that need to be made to ascertain who, in the end, the winner is. It is important that the teacher checks the game box carefully to insure all parts needed for the game are returned. Insist that the students pack all the materials carefully so that it is easy for the teacher to check that all parts have been returned. Only then can the students store that game away.

In conclusion, most commercially produced games, fully played, are too time consuming for the classroom so the teacher must modify their use and set a time limit and stick to it giving a warning when the time is almost finished. It is also important to allow time for the games to be repacked and given to you personally to check that all parts are returned. Commercial games are expensive and even a small loss of parts will negate its use or make it harder to play effectively.

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