Do your middle school math students like to play math games? Mine do, but over the past few years I've noticed that many of them aren't familiar with some of the games I played when I was a kid, like Yahtzee, for example. So, as we started working on converting fractions and decimals, I decided to create a game to make practicing the conversions more fun AND give them some more game experience! I based it on the idea of Yahtzee:-)
Here's how it works:
Students roll four dice, and pair the dice up to create "target numbers" that are either decimals or whole numbers.
For example, a student rolls 1, 2, 4, and 6. From these dice, the student may create any two of the following decimal (or whole) numbers:
½ = 0.5 4/1 = 4
¼ = 0.25 4/2 = 2
1/6 = 0.1666... 4/6 = 0.666...
2/1 = 2 6/1 = 6
2/4 = 0.5 6/2 = 3
2/6 = 0.333... 6/4 = 1.5
Once a player has chosen two target numbers, he or she finds the score by adding the dice that were used for each decimal (or whole number). If the player chose to use 1 and 4 to get 0.25, he or she adds 1 + 4 for a sum of 5 to place in the score column. If the second choice used 2 and 6, to equal either 0.333...or 3, then sum of 8 would go in the appropriate column as the score.
On the next roll, this student rolls 1, 1, 3, and 5. This student can pair 1 and 1, to get 1, and pair 3 and 5 to get either 0.6 or 1.666... The score for 1 is 2 (1 + 1) and the score for 0.6 (or 1.666) is
8 (3 + 5).
In many cases, students' scores will be the same, but some of the decimals can be found with different combinations of numbers (1 and 3 = 0.333..., and so do
2 and 6, so students could have a score of either 4 or 8). Some students will notice this sum difference and go for the combination that will give them the higher score....bringing in the possibility of using some strategy, for those higher level thinkers.
The students have really enjoyed playing this game. They do need a few examples at the start, to understand exactly how the game works, so if you decide to try the game, be prepared to go through a few turns together.
You can create a score sheet like this on your own, or go to TPT and use what I've created. Detailed instructions are included, and a complete answer key of highest and lowest possible scores for each target number are included as well. This is handy to quickly check student score cards as you check in on their games.
If you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
To Read Next:
In my early years of teaching, I didn't always know what to say when students told me they didn't have time to do their homework (other than something like, "You must have had some time between 4:00 and 9:00!). There were all kinds of reasons - they had sports practice or a lesson, or they had to go to their brother's or sister's game/practice/event of some kind; or their parents took them shopping or out to eat. At that time I had one child (who was 2 when I started teaching), so I didn't have the experience from a parent's point of view of making sure I was getting my kids to their activities, getting done all the house-related things, and also making sure they were getting their homework done. This made it a little difficult for me to relate to the students' situations, but I tried to help them think about how much time they did have to do their work.
Being involved in activities definitely reduces time for schoolwork, but it
doesn't mean that schoolwork can't get done. Students can learn to manage their time, but they need to be shown how. There are many of us who, as adults, may not manage our time very well. And if a parent is not great at managing time, how will he or she teach their children to manage theirs? Even when adults are good at managing time, they don't always think to teach their children how to do what they do.
Because their parents might not talk about time management, I've spent many years teaching students (5th and 6th graders) how to find their available work time. I make these planner-type pages and have students fill in a sample week, so they can see where their available time is. When they fill in the practices, games, lessons, sibling practices, etc, they can then see what time is left in the day. If homework is assigned Monday and brother has practice, the student can see that they have a chunk of time from 3:30-6:00 (when they probably also eat dinner) and then 8-9:00. If homework completion can fit in those time slots, great! They can plan to use that time wisely. If it's not enough time, then they need to use another strategy to get things done. One of the fun parts of using the calendar/planner is the color-coding! When I used this for my own planning, I color-coded according to person (my son was green, oldest daughter orange, youngest purple, and I was blue:-).
If their chunks of time aren't big enough, students need to find other ways to complete their work. One of the strategies I share with students is to take backpacks and homework supplies in the car with them. When one of my three children had practice (they're all beyond this point now), the others brought any work they had to do. Sometimes homework was completed sitting on a blanket in the grass or sitting in the bleachers. Sometimes it was completed in the car while we waited. Do distractions occur when homework is done this way? Yes, they sometimes do. But, to me, using that time to work was better than losing an hour or two (or more, depending on travel time!) and then having to do everything after we got home (especially if we still had to have dinner!)
I also suggest that students try to study while they're driving to an event. They can read over notes and quiz themselves. If there are several people in the car, one person can quiz another. The student can quiz their parent as well, or explain information to mom or dad....this is a great way for a student to be sure his knowledge is solid.
I always suggest that students put upcoming tests on their calendars and then work backwards to schedule their study time....so they could label the driving time as study time. Projects should go on the calendar too, so students can again work backwards to fit in the necessary time to complete them.
The great thing about a week at a glance like this is that students don't have to depend on someone buying them a planner or printing out pages for them. They can write out their own schedule on their own paper and design it any way they'd like. Then they can post in it their room, on the frig, or keep it in a school binder.
As I mentioned, in the early days, I didn't quite know how to respond to students who didn't have time to do their work. But now, this is something I teach every year, to help avoid those "I didn't have time because...." statements :-)
Favorite End of School Year Activity
What are your favorite end-of-the-year activities? One of my favorites for the end of the school year is to have the students create "Memory Wheels."
Memory Wheels Steps
When we create our memory wheels, we take time to brainstorm a huge list of all the things we did during the school year - field trips, special lessons, special events, activities students may have been involved in, etc.
2) Choosing and Creating
Then students choose their top 6-8 memories and put those on their memory wheel. Students write "6th Grade" or "6th Grade Memories" in the center, and then write a heading and/or sentence or two in each section. They create illustrations to go with the sentences in each section. Then they add color!
Students use a template to help them create their wheels, and I have them use either oak tag or large white construction paper.
3) Display the Memory Wheels
I laminate the wheels and display them for the end of the year, so students can see and share their classmates' memories:-)
Then I save the wheels to put up at the beginning of the new school year!
Creating these wheels gives students a chance to reminisce about the school year, and the wheels give the incoming students a chance to see what the "old" students thought was fun about their 6th grade school year. AND, the 7th-graders who left their wheels behind like to come back to visit and pick their wheels up:-)
Other Wheel Template Uses:
The wheels could also be used at the beginning of the year, as a "getting to know you" activity. The student's name would go in the center circle. The student would need to choose 8 things to share about him/herself, and then write a brief description of them and illustrate them. I haven't used the wheel in this way yet, but I like the idea:)
The wheel templates can be used for any type of project, at any time during the school year. In the past, I have used the wheels as a book report project: students choose main events from the book to feature in each section, they write a brief description of each event, and then illustrate each one. The title and author are written in the center circle.
Update: I've created quite a few wheels in different content areas! Check them out here!
To Read Next:
When students finish their math tests and want to hand them in, I always ask, "Did you check your work?" Often the answer is "yes," but if it's not, I won't take the paper until the student does check over their work. How do they do this checking? Do you know what I'm going to say?
Here's what they do - they look at the questions, basically make sure that all the questions were answered, and again try to hand the test in. Unless they are clearly taught otherwise, many students seem to understand "checking your work" to mean "checking to see if everything is done." What does checking mean to you?
What does it mean to me? How do I think students should check work?
Hey there! I'm Ellie - here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easy-prep activities ideas!