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Why Play Maths Games?

People of all ages love to play games that are fun and motivating. Games give students opportunities to explore fundamental number concepts, such as the counting sequence, one-to-one correspondence, and computation strategies. Engaging mathematical games can also encourage students to explore number combinations, place value, patterns, and other important mathematical concepts. Further, they afford opportunities for students to deepen their mathematical understanding and reasoning. Teachers should provide repeated opportunities for students to play games, then let the mathematical ideas emerge as students notice new patterns, relationships, and strategies. Games are an important tool for learning in elementary school mathematics classrooms:

• Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepen their understanding of numbers.

• When played repeatedly, games support students’ development of computational fluency.

• Games present opportunities for practice, often without the need for teachers to provide the problems. Teachers can then observe or assess students and work with individuals or small groups of students.

• Games have the potential to allow students to develop familiarity with the number system and with “benchmark numbers” (such as 10s, 100s, and 1000s) and engage in computation practice, building a deeper understanding of operations.

• Games support a school-to-home connection. Parents can learn about their children’s mathematical thinking by playing games with them at home.

by Kitty Rutherford. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics


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