Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Multiplication Can Be Fun--Part 3

I will be sharing occasionally some of the things that I adapt to solve a need of some of my students.  I have always taught where money was an issue for the school and for me, so adaptation had to be a part of my classroom.  Here is an example of one way:

I went to a Teacher Store in my area looking for something to help one of my students who as a sixth-grader still did not know her basic facts.  I mean addition and subtraction.  I found a game called Snakes.  The game consisted of stick like shapes that had snake heads on them.  I immediately thought of Pick'em Sticks.  Snakes was over ten dollars.  I left and went to Cargo Largo and bought Pick'em Sticks for fifty cents a set.  I bought 10 sets.

Since I did after school tutoring three days a week that year, I brought in Pick'em Up Sticks to use with her and my after school bunch.  Actually, I brought in all 10 sets because I had about 15-20 kids stay regularly.

When my students saw them on my desk, they immediately wanted to know what they were and what you did with them.  Pick'em Up Sticks on that day entered all three sections of my Math classes.

I was amazed that none of them knew what they were or how to play with them.   So, I played a game against one of them and away we went.

Day 1-- Everyone played one game, the winner was the one with the most sticks.

Day 2-- Everyone played one game, but the rules changed.  I gave each person a list with the number of points for each colored stick they got. Different colors different amounts. They had to find the sum.  The winner was the person who had the highest score. 

Day 3--Everyone played one game, but the rules changed again.  This time everyone started with 100 points and had to subtract the value of their sticks.  The first person to zero or the lowest score won the game.

Day 4 or 5--Everyone played one game, but the rules changed once again.  If you only picked up one stick, you added that point value.  If you picked up two sticks, you multiplied the numbers and added that to your score.  Then you kept going until your turn was up.  They were still using the values for each color.

They loved playing Pick'em sticks.  They organized their own tournaments and would come to my room with their lunch so they could play against students in my other sections of Math.  They stayed after school to play Pick'em Sticks.  They bought their own sticks and played at home with their families.

Of a morning, when released from breakfast, they would come to my room before going to their lockers to try to get their names on the list in the hall for lunch in my room.  It did mean however, I didn't have a duty-free lunch, but I can't even imagine how much basic math has been done with sets of Pick'em sticks.

At one point they drew a tournament bracket and a group of them worked through the bracket to determine a "true" winner.  To determine who moved on, you had to win two games against your opponent.

They decided each day based upon who the player were how they would play.  If people struggled, with addition or subtraction that is how they played.  If someone said I need to work on multiplication, they multiplied. 

Just a little note, every person had to keep the score for the table just to make sure they worked the Math correctly.  The students who struggled with basic facts were just as involved as those who could do the math easily.  My rules were everyone had to write down the numbers and there could be no arguing or you were put out.  If you disagreed on the scores, check the Math.  If you still disagree after reworking the math, then they could get a calculator from me and find the mistake.

There are many commercial products available that can be very powerful learning tools if they are adapted just a little bit.

Until next time...........

Tamera at TBA just posted a wonderful video about using commerical games.  Be sure to watch it!




What a super idea!! Thanks for sharing:) You never know what will click with the kids:)

4th Grade Frolics

Jennifer Gibson

I love it! I may use it in my room this year, too! Great differentiation ideas.


I love that game. I always introduce it when we are comparing today to long ago and my kids play it as an "old fashioned" game. I will definitely use it with my first graders this year like you did by assigning points the the colors. Thanks!!
F is For First Grade


Love the idea! Going to find some Pick'em sticks tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!

Vintage Teacher

My students love playing a game of any kind. Hope your students enjoy it as much as mine have.

Thanks for stopping in and visiting my blog.


Great idea. I learned anytime you can make a game out of a learning experience, IT IS A BIG HIT! :)
Thanks for sharing your game.

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