Friday, October 12, 2012

Talk About Math with Memory

I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom.


Memory (Math) – Often in my Friday Game Night suggestions, I have ideas for how to use a game in a new and different way in order to build math and literacy skills.  For this week, however, we are using Memory, which already has so many standard math skills built into it, that I didn’t need to add anything to it.  This of course, simplifies your life, because all you need is a good old Memory game – any version works, classic, Spiderman, Princess, etc.

The first few times you play memory, play in guided groups so that you can talk through these math strategies.  Once the game is put in an independent center, make it clear that the expectation is for these skills to be discussed while playing the game.


1.)  Talk About Strategy:  One of the reasons students struggle with problem solving is that they are rarely taught what they should be thinking while problem solving.  We just hand them a problem and say “think it through”.  Many kids need more than that, so as teachers, we need to model, and allow other kids to model real life problem solving.  Memory is a great place to do that, because it involves real life problem solving and strategy. 

While you are playing this in a guided group, tell kids you would like to hear what they are thinking as they make their choices.  Model your own choices out loud and encourage students to do the same.  You should say things like:

“I need to find another flower.  I know that I saw the flower in this area.  It wasn’t all the way at the top.  I don’t remember exactly how far down, but I don’t think it was more than 3 rows down.  I’ll try the card 2 rows down this time, and if it’s incorrect, I’ll try 3 rows down next time.”


2.)  Count by 2’s and Introduce Multiplication:  As students collect cards in Memory, they will be collecting pairs (great time to introduce that vocabulary word!).  This is a great time to talk about counting by twos and introduce repeated addition and multiplication.  For older students, this is a great time to talk about division and percentages.  (ie.  There are 50 cards, if we break them into groups of 2, how many groups should there be?  If we have found 10 groups, what percentage of the groups have been found.)


3.)  Pile & Estimate:  Can you estimate how many cards are in your pile?  Can you use that estimate to estimate how many cards are in everyone else’s pile?  Can you use that estimate to estimate how many cards are left?  There are so many estimation questions that can be developed during the course of a game of Memory.


4.)  Comparing Numbers:  “I have 2 pairs and you have 4 pairs, who has more?”  “All together we have found 9 pairs.  Are more cards found or hidden?”  There are so many ways to compare numbers when using Memory.


Now, if you have time, there are tons and tons of ways to create your own memory games that work on other types of math.  For example, you could have math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) on one card and the “match” is the answer.  Or you could have shapes on one card and the “match” is the number of sides, or the name of the shape.  Or you could have a clock on one card and the “match” is the correct time shown.  Or you could have a group of money on one card and the “match” is the amount of money shown.  The possibilities are endless!  Create your own memory games to fit the needs of your students with this free template.If you want to create your own memory games – feel free to grab this Template from my Teachers Pay Teachers store to help you with the process.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources