Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

Fact: Kids love playing strategy math games, and when you introduce a twist of strategy, you add a problem-solving element to the activity. As kids play a game multiple times, their strategy will evolve. A great way to add accountability to a game that’s being played in a workstation is to have students write about their strategy in their Math Journal. My favorite games are those that are engaging, include a twist of strategy, and require very little in the way of prep or materials.

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The first game is the easier of the two. Assuming the number 1 in the upper left corner of the chart, players take turns using their colored pencils to write a single number in one of the squares on the chart. In doing this, students are using the patterns on the hundred chart, which emphasize place value, to determine which number goes in a particular square. A player who gets four numbers in a row on the chart (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) draws a line through the numbers and earns one point. Play continues. The player who has the most points at the end of the game wins. This game can be differentiated by assuming different numbers in the top left corner. For example, the “starting” number could be a 3-digit number, such as 501, or even a decimal like 0.1.

The second game is a little more difficult and focuses on choosing numbers with a difference of 21. In this game, players take turns writing in two numbers that have a difference of 21. So, for example, I might begin the game by writing in the numbers 24 and 45 (difference of 21). My opponent might follow up with 43 and 64 (also a difference of 21). The format of the hundred chart makes determining pairs of numbers with a difference of 21 easy to find. The game continues much like the first game I described. When a player gets four numbers in a row, they draw a line through the numbers, score a point, and play continues. This game could also be differentiated by allowing players to choose a different target difference for the game. So they could play, for example, with a difference of 37, which would be harder than 21.

You can download a blank number chart here. If you use it in your classroom, please drop a comment below or, better yet, take some pictures and tag me in a tweet!

A few years ago I used an interactive 100 Chart. It was not your regular 100 chart. However the student could fill in the blank squares as usual. It also had a button to rotate the chart 90 degrees to the left or right. The numbers were printed in the squares as you would normally read them, but they were in a completely different order because of the rotation. The student would fill in the blank squares. In other words the empty square to the left of a number instead of being 1 less it would be 10 more. I have lost the website. Do you know of this website?

Thanks Donna! I am using this in my online math lesson on Thursday this week. I recorded a video demo of me playing with my daughter. I’ll send any pics I get your way:)

Partners have a vested interest in checking each other’s work! I would hope that if a student incorrectly placed a number that a conversation would take place between the players. Because we want to send the message that we learn from our mistakes, I would suggest that the player who made the mistake be allowed to move the number to the correct location.

I started my teaching career in 1979, and next year will more than likely be my last. I feel so lucky I found these games just in time! I have been back in first grade for eight years now after an exciting 13 years in fifth. I felt out of the first grade groove when I returned, found you, and have been hooked ever since. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas. Teachers are blessed to have you as a resource.

No, players choose the space they want. It’s kinda like tic-tac-toe. So I can use the patterns in the hundred chart and place my first number in the space for 45, for example, if o want. The goal is to get four in a row, and the other player is going to try to block you.

I love these games, independent and fun. I like the second game in particular as it can be changed in many ways – +/- 1 to start with, and 10 more/less – whatever you are working on. Great way to help kids gain number sense.

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A few years ago I used an interactive 100 Chart. It was not your regular 100 chart. However the student could fill in the blank squares as usual. It also had a button to rotate the chart 90 degrees to the left or right. The numbers were printed in the squares as you would normally read them, but they were in a completely different order because of the rotation. The student would fill in the blank squares. In other words the empty square to the left of a number instead of being 1 less it would be 10 more. I have lost the website. Do you know of this website?

Thanks Donna! I am using this in my online math lesson on Thursday this week. I recorded a video demo of me playing with my daughter. I’ll send any pics I get your way:)

Very cool!

I love the thought of this game! I will save this for my future classroom. Thank you so much.

What happens when one of the students puts the incorrect number in a spot on the blank chart?

Partners have a vested interest in checking each other’s work! I would hope that if a student incorrectly placed a number that a conversation would take place between the players. Because we want to send the message that we learn from our mistakes, I would suggest that the player who made the mistake be allowed to move the number to the correct location.

I started my teaching career in 1979, and next year will more than likely be my last. I feel so lucky I found these games just in time! I have been back in first grade for eight years now after an exciting 13 years in fifth. I felt out of the first grade groove when I returned, found you, and have been hooked ever since. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas. Teachers are blessed to have you as a resource.

Love these games! So easy to teach and differentiate. Perfect for 2nd grade. Thanks so much!

I’m assuming the students roll dice or flip number cards to create their numbers? Otherwise they’ll start at 1 and just count by ones!

No, players choose the space they want. It’s kinda like tic-tac-toe. So I can use the patterns in the hundred chart and place my first number in the space for 45, for example, if o want. The goal is to get four in a row, and the other player is going to try to block you.

I love these games, independent and fun. I like the second game in particular as it can be changed in many ways – +/- 1 to start with, and 10 more/less – whatever you are working on. Great way to help kids gain number sense.