Saturday, July 8, 2023

Games Before Class

 I'm teaching a quick 6 week Intermediate Algebra (linear/quadratic/exponential) for incoming freshman this summer. Part of my goal is to convince them that math is different than how they might have been exposed to it. On day 1, we started with Wordle. A few learners had played it before, but quickly the whole class picked up the idea, and there were several good deductions about which letters could go where. The rest of the week, we played the daily Wordle before class the rest of the week.

This week, we started with SET. A little harder to understand, but there's so much logic. The daily puzzle has up to six solutions, which seems to allow for more participation. (Kelly Spoon noted Set with Friends for online actual game play, plus variants.)

I had ideas about what I wanted to do in subsequent weeks, but I was curious what others think and asked on Twitter. BOOM, people exploded with a bevy of resources. I used to have a blog where I shared resources, where did I put that...? After Sam and Julie posted about moving to Mastodon (because of Twitter's Troubles), I tried posting there, too.

Math Online Games & Apps

  • FiddleBrix suggested by Benjamin Dickman. He suggested downloading the app, then handwrite a previous puzzle. This is a super challenging puzzle, to me, but Benjamin's suggestions are gold.
  • SumIt puzzle suggested by Kelly Spoon. Lots of stuff there.
  • Beast Academy All Ten also via Kelly. Really great arithmetic challenge.
  • Draggin Math pay app, 
  • Shirley McDonald suggested a lot of great stuff: All Ten by Beast Academy (always an open tab in my browser), Number Hive (like the Product Game on a hexagon board), Skyscrapers (Latin square with clues, from a site with lots of puzzles) and Digit Party (implementation of a Ben Orlin game; also an open tab, I may have a tab problem).
  • Shirley also recommended Mathigon's Puzzle of the Day. I've been playing that in an app more days than not. (I think I'm getting better?)
  • Kathy Henderson suggested the NYT Connections game, which I hadn't seen yet. That is very much in the spirit of what I'm looking for!

IRL Math Games (Free and Commercial)

  • David Butler has a great collection of activities, his 100 Factorial. He singled out Digit Disguises and Which Number Where
  • Neal W recommended: Quixx is a great dice game and very easy to learn. My students love 20  Express. There are rules and scoresheets online.
  • Tom Cutrofello suggested the excellent Turnstyle puzzle he designed for Brainwright!
  • Prime Climb by Dan Finkel, suggested by Amie Albrecht. She notes, especially David Butler's human scale Prime Climb. (Which I have played and love.
  • Anna Blinstein suggested Anna Weltman's Snugglenumbers, which is a great variation on a target number game.
  • Pat Bellew said remember the original: Mastermind. Erick Lee has a Desmos activity implementarion of the math version, Pico, Fermi, Bagel.
  • Sian Zelbo claims Jotto is better than the either Wordle or Mastermind. (Online version.)
  • Becky Steele cited David Coffey for Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza as well as Farkle.
  • Chris Conrad recommended Quarto, amazing strategy game. Amie mentioned you can play with SET cards - how amazing is that idea. Karen Campe remembered this great Aperiodical article about the game.
  • Mardi Nott, Bradford Dykes and Jenna Laib vouch for Charty Party - that's a strong recommendation. Bradford also brought up this stats version of Spot It, the Graphic Continuum Match It Game.
  • Ms. Morris suggested Nine Men's Morris. Interesting game idea.


  • Kim McIntyre suggested Sarah Carter's big collection of classroom puzzles. I have learned so many puzzles from her over the years, but especially the Naoki Inaba puzzles.
  • Speaking of Japanese puzzles, Gregory White suggests Shikaku.
  • Benjamin Dickman and Shirley and Gayle Herrington suggested KenKen. I've used those with younger learners and college students.
  • Karen Campe had several suggestions, some in this blogpost. Times UK puzzle page, StarBattle, Suko
  • suggested Mobiles. Love those, and we do lessons based on them. Here's a challenge problem I asked them!
  • Druin suggested the Puzzle Library, which I can't access for some reason. Looks like they're intentionally made for schools.
  • Susan Russo linked Cryptograms, which are some cool cruptographic puzzles. I haven't tried anything like this and am curious.
  • Sarcasymptote brought up Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School, which is what I was expecting from Cryptograms, thinking it was cryptarithms. But somehow have never seen that book despite loving Wayside.
  • Ms. Morris linked a Magic Square app.
Activity Ideas

So my plans as of now are:
  • Wordle
  • SET (both in the books and worked well)
  • Connections (I like that this will alternate word and math)
  • All Ten (Digit Party would make a better game, but is harder to kibbitz on as people come in.)
  • Mastermind
  • Henri Picciotto's Supertangrams. (a- recently got them! b - they are so amazing. c- be nice to close with something tangible.)
Thanks to everyone who replied! Wherever the math teachers are chatting, I'll continue to be there.