Sunday, May 30, 2010

Decimal Point Pickle

I came up with a variation on what was already a decent game and got to pilot it with Mr. Schiller's 5th grade this week.  Esther Billings introduced me to the game she had found in the book, Nimble with Numbers by Leigh Childs and Laura Choate, Dale Seymour Pub., 1998

The 5th grade came up with two names, Destination Elimination (which I like because it rhymes), and Decimal Pickle.  This suggested by a student who's answer for everything is pickle.  (I'm sure you know a student like that.)  But here, it reminded me of a childhood baseball game that none of the kids knew but kind of fits.  (The baseball game Pickle.)
 My Favorite Pickle

Decimal Point Pickle

Set Up:
1.    2 or more teams or players.
2.    Get a deck of cards and remove the Kings, Queens, 10s and Jokers.  Jacks stay in.
3.    Each player or team makes a path with 10 spaces.  It can be straight and rectangles, or it can be curvy and circles, but it needs to have 10 spaces and a clear beginning and end.
4.    Shuffle the cards.

Playing:  Idea is that you’re going to fill in your path from small to big, flipping over cards to get possibilities.
1.    On your turn, flip over a card.  If it’s red, flip over another card.  If it’s red, flip over another card.  But you never flip more than three.  If you run out of cards, shuffle up the used cards.
2.    Arrange those cards to make a decimal number.  Jacks are the zeros. The smallest number you can make is .000, and the largest is .999.  Say your number.
3.    Fill in your decimal number somewhere on the path.  But it can’t go before a smaller number or after a bigger number.  Your path has to start small and end big.  If there’s no place to fill in your number, you don’t. 
4.    Winner is the first person to completely fill in their path, with all the numbers in order.

1.    J ♥, 3 ♣.  You can make .03 or .30. 
2.    5 ♥ hearts, so you flip 2 ♦, so you flip 7 ♥ hearts.  (You stop because you can’t have more than three.)  You can make one of .275, .275, .527, .572, .725 or .752.  Which you want depends on your path. 
3.    Sample filled in path below.

1.    Simpler:  Play where you always flip over 2 or 3 cards.
2.    Play cooperatively.  Two players work together to fill in one path.
3.    More complex:  Play with 10s, which fill in 2 places.  So 10 ♦, 5 ♠ can be .105 or .510.
4.    More complex:  Play without the three card limit.  You could hit a 10 digit long decimal or longer!  (Pretty unlikely, but still…)
5.    Make 12 space paths.
6.    Play with Jokers as a wild digit.

Teaching Notes:  As often with a new game I played me vs the class first.  It was clear that the blackjack-esque possibility of extra cards was exciting, and they quickly got the idea that it was a big advantage.  I didn't castigate anyone for saying "point two three" but often asked "so how do you say that number?"  I shared how I thought about getting numbers close together and they really ran with it.  In general hitting on lots of ideas about where to put numbers, how to divide up the path, etc.  In their 2 on 2 games, there was a lot of good discussion about strategy, how to leave space, and what they wanted to turn over.  There was a lot of excellent comparing of decimals of different length.  (One amazing discussion comparing .1 to .065)  Students got very creative with their paths and I was quite glad I hadn't brought any preprinted ones.  We actually wound up playing with everyday math cards, which thankfully came in black and blue.  Whew!

If you give it a try, please let me know what you think.

<--- 2nd="2nd" favorite="favorite" p="p" pickles="pickles">
---> PDF of the game.


  1. I tried it out at Wildcat. I didn't do a good job of explaining it, I don't think. And the kids hadn't done enough previous work with ordering decimals. (Perhaps none.)

    As I was watching them try to play, I thought of another game, no winning involved. Make a number line (0 to 1) outside, mark the tenths on it, let kids pick two cards to determine their position, and then they stand there. After everyone is on the line, keep going, picking a new position each time. They can tell each other their position and hold their cards.

  2. I like that idea. I do something similar with a clothesline and clothespins for decimals and fractions.

    Thanks for sharing how it went!

  3. Just played with a new bunch of 5th graders. Fun fun fun.

    It's an amazing tutoring game. Sitting down with a group there were 3 or 4 big ideas that we could talk about in 10 minutes, with immediate opportunities for them to practice.

    The game even works well teacher vs. class.

  4. This is fast becoming one of my favourite games to share with teachers. Depending on the grade level we have discussed various adaptations and extensions.

    Thanks for sharing!