Learning any form of math should include a fun element. Using games serves two purposes. First, just hearing the word "game" is guaranteed to grab everyone's attention and THAT is a good thing because if they are alert, they are paying attention. Second, games can often times make the content more accessible to students, especially ELLs, since the use of games lowers anxiety levels. Further, if a student doesn't have the correct answer, s/he does not suffer from embarrassment. After all, it is not a test.
So how can a teacher use games to achieve the goal of delivering
academically challenging math content without losing students? GAMES-below are two videos where games
are used. One is at the elementary level covering number sense while the other focuses on middle school students reviewing types of equations. In both cases, little is needed in the way of expensive equipment--white paper, markers, whiteboards, and number cubes. There is no need for technology (though technology has its purpose, for quick review-type activities like these, it is not really needed). Both teachers want to build student confidence in being able to demonstrate mastery of the concepts thereby building self-confidence. Further, with team-like games, ELLs especially can gather a deeper understanding of the concepts from peers as they try to win the game. Also, stress levels are low since everyone, including the teacher, is enjoying the process.
Another bonus here is that academic language is woven throughout. The teachers incorporate math concept words in the activity. Students use the words regularly in these activities and this is a plus since listening alone is not enough exposure for students to retain the words. For ELLs, they must hear the word in context, read material with those content words in the context, be able to write about the content, and finally, use that key vocabulary in academic conversation. Games make it happen!
BTW, three board games that are still quite popular and relatively inexpensive are BATTLESHIP (graph coordinates) and MONOPOLY (interest, buying and selling real estate, banking), and CHESS (geometry). Though not a math teacher, I still used materials like those laid out here to build a deeper knowledge of math vocabulary...and I had fun right along with the students:)
SORTING AND CLASSIFYING EQUATIONS
2ND GRADE PLACE VALUE GAMES
ELL TEACHER PROS
"Battleship Game" (Google Affiliate Ad) MATH GAME
"Monopoly Game" (Google Affiliate Ad) MATH GAME
Walnut Chess Set (Google Affiliate Ad) MATH GAME