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I love games in general, but also in math class. We play many games as a family and love to bring in others to play. I had the good fortune to go to grad school with Richard Garfield who turbo-boosted my games education.  I loved his philosophy of meta-gaming: play each game so as to increase your chances of winning all games. A great long term view. I think some of the reasons that mathematicians love math is that it is a lot like playing a game. Defined objects, rules declaring what moves are permitted, desired outcomes... a serious game that is.

This is a page to organize the math games I've created or modified significantly with some notes about content and a collection of the best math games I've seen and played from other teachers in the #MTBoS. I'd like to thank my preservice teachers as they have made wonderful suggestions and done lots of playtesting. This page will ever be in development - a lot of games to put on here!

Of special note is Kent Haines' site Games for Young Minds. He shares free games, reviews mathy commercial games and writes posts about using games with your kids or learners. Awesome site. Dan Finkel is doing a lot to make good games you can buy, check out Math for Love.

Games on the Blog
Note: links try to open in the Google doc window, so right click or control click. Sorry! - can't find a fix for that. Here's the Google doc itself if you'd rather read it like that. The newest games that haven't made the doc yet are tagged game.

Other Posts about games:
  • James Cleveland and I led a great math game design session at TMC15.  Here's the story!
  • Game Design one and two: adapting a game design framework to educational games.  Second one has my current framework for thinking about the designed games.  Applied the framework to the promising number & operations game Make and Take here. Compared it to the NCTM framework, too.
  • Katie Salen on game design, founder of a game modeled school, Institute of Play, design professor at DePaul.
  • Holiday Game Design: getting 5th graders designing a math game based on Traveling Salesman problem.
  • Concentration: odd post taking a gamer's view on how you learn to concentrate
  • Doodle Jump: mobile game, connections with Mathematical practices (CCSS) and teaching connections.
  • MCC Math Tech- Friday: my notes on Maria Anderson's Playing to Learn presentation with lots of game links. In particular you should try Waker which is a very good algebraic representation game.
  • Playing Math : wondering why more people don't see math as playing.
  • Unit Rummy and Game Design: in addition to the game, I share some thoughts on game design/adaptation and a fun non-math game, Ruler and Peasant. (Be good for social studies, though.)
  • My old games page which has pdfs of several games not listed here.

Eleusis Express

One of the happiest interactions I've had with game design is adapting Robert Abbott's great game Eleusis. It's a bit complicated for classroom use, so I adapted it to Eleusis Express, and it put me in contact with Dr. Abbott. I often have students play first with the sample rules until they're ready to make up their own. (Which varies student to student.)
His page is a great one, so please check out Robert Abbot's homepage, the Eleusis page, or one of his logic mazes at Games Magazine.  Eleusis Express also got published in The Games Bible, which was very nice.

Some of the game handouts are hosted on Scribd. If you're having trouble getting them, just email me for the file. I am happy to share anything here. (CC3.0 licensing.)

Tiny Math Games
Jason Dyer and Dan Meyer started a conversation about tiny math games that had teachers contributing many. I gathered them up in a google doc,, and Dan has chartered a website for them in the future. I'm a strong proponent of this idea!

Commercial Games
Links go to BoardGameGeek, a great reference, review and preview site for zillions of commercial games. Also - pdfs of instructions, which is wicked helpful. (My strongest recommendations in bold.)
Most of these are available at Funagain Games, IF you can't find them at your local game store, like our dear Mackinaw Kite (which is also on Facebook).

I can't close this without a shout out to strategy games. These are amazing for problem solving. I highly recommend Magic: the Gathering, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride, among others.
Love how teachers share!

Other People's Games
I'm going to try to keep track of good game posts, but there won't be much from before Fall 2011. In general, if you're interested in this you should be following James Cleveland, Denise Gaskins, Gord Hamilton, Kate Nowak and Nora Oswald. All prolific math games folk. But again, Kent Haines Games for Young Minds is the standout resource.

Julie Reulbach has started a Google spreadsheet of these kind of games. James Cleveland has started a curriculum aligned map.

Content Specific Games

Nora Oswald is probably the queen of these. She has many, develops new all the time, and  Conic Capture game using Desmos, a neat function game: Domain Rangerabsolute value equation game (Love this mechanic & will steal it.), Factoring game to prepare students for factoring trinomials. Slope-Ping using ping pong balls to score slope cards. The Line Game, updated with a Desmos activity. And, she now has a website for her games!
Games Teachers Play  (Review Games; Adaptable game structures)
This section is for non-content specific games, the stronger (and more fun) descendants of bingo and math baseball, usually used on review days. I have not always spoken kindly of these, but I appreciate ways to get games in the classroom, teachers using structures that they have already developed, and teachers attending to their students' engagement level.

In a Global Math session on Game Show Math, Bowen Kerins included this slide. Important stuff to consider when thinking about using a game: access to all students, minimal advantage for speed, engagement for students who are most in need of review, opportunities to hear other students' reasoning.

Reference:  As always, Sam Shah's virtual filing cabinet. Man, I gotta get me one of those.

I want to start a section here with posts and accessible articles covering the benefits of mathematical gameplay.

I am not a gamifier myself (I don't need no steenkin' badges), but try to apply several of the principles and think there's a lot of great teachers doing innovative things with them. (Maybe I do need some steenkin' badges.)

Here's the resources I have compiled so far. (As the Google doc if you prefer.) As a counter point, here's a strongly worded anti-gamification essay suggested by Audrey Waters.

Photo credits: jawhawksean @ Flickr, I Can Haz Cheezburger, Buglugs @ Flickr


    1. What an enormous collection of games, I wish that it was more narrowed down, so that a reader such as me, could be directed to pick one up, easier.