Multi-Digit Computation Game

Written by Donna Boucher

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.

Computational fluency is still a goal for mathematics instruction. What’s changed is how we approach computation. We have shifted from teaching one method—typically the standard algorithm—to a strategy-based approach. Today, I’ve got an easy little game for multi-digit computation practice.

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally use and recommend.

There are a couple of reasons why I prefer games over worksheets for practice. Games that require strategy, like the one I have for you today, incorporate problem-solving. Students have to think about their strategy and that helps strengthen their analytical skills. Next, games are repeatable and require less prep, because the numbers are randomly generated—they always change, unlike a worksheet. I can copy the game board on cardstock, laminate it, and reuse it over and over again. Finally, games are fun! Students are more engaged when playing a game, so they get more meaningful practice.

The game I have for you today is called Line it Up. I used another variation on this same game in this post about multiplication fact strategies. The rules are simple enough. The goal of the game is to place five numbers on the number line in order from least to greatest. The numbers are generated by rolling dice, creating two 2-digit numbers, and either adding or subtracting the numbers. So if I rolled the numbers shown on the dice below, I could create any number of expressions—63 + 45, 46 + 35, 65 – 34, etc. What if I wanted to place a number on the number line that would fit between the 47 and 115 I have already filled in? How would you combine the digits 3, 4, 5, and 6 into a 2-digit and 2-digit addition or subtraction problem? Can you find a solution that works?

There are variations listed a the bottom of the game mat, and there is a multiplication/division version as well. You can also use ten-sided dice instead of standard dice to increase the range of possible numbers.

Now let’s talk about the actual calculations. Notice with the example above, two different strategies were used for the calculations. Students should be introduced to a number of different strategies. If strategy-based computation is new to you, check out this post to read about number talks and how you can get started with them in your classroom.

Grab your free game mat for multi-digit computation here!


  1. Debra Hubert

    Hi Donna,

    I was unable to download the Line It up Addition game. It looks great! Your blog post was
    extremely timely. I have been lamenting over the fact that my grade 2’s do not know their math facts with automaticity, and are still counting on their fingers.

    • Donna Boucher

      Sorry for the trouble! What kind of error message did you get? I just opened it in an incognito window and had no issues.


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