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Equation Jeopardy


This is a game idea from last year that we have begun playing again.  I once led a Math Club meeting full of kids I had never met.  I needed a game that would be flexible.  A game that would challenge older kids while not overwhelming the younger siblings.  The result was Equation Jeopardy.

Grab a file folder.  Label one side Addition and  the other Subtraction. Multiplication and Division would work very well also.

You'll need several library pockets.  If you don't have any you can make them from index cards or by sealing an envelope and cutting it in half or thirds.  Use a glue stick to seal any edges not covered by the adhesive.

Label the points on each pocket.  I choose 100 and 200 for Addition and 300 and 400 for Subtraction.  I prefer to have two pockets on each side of the folder.  Too many would look to cluttered.

Use cards that will slip in and out of the pockets easily. The cards are labeled with values.  For our game I used the numbers 1 through 8 in Addition for 100 and Subtraction for 300.  Cards with 9 through 16 were put into Addition for 200 and Subtraction for 400.  I prefer to mix the cards up before I put them in the pockets.

That's all the setup you need.  Learn the rules, round up some kids and get playin'!  It's great fun and you will be amazed at what the kids can do.

To Play:

The first child will call a category.  Say she calls Addition for 200.  Reach in and grab a card.  The cards will be numbers 9 through 16.  Whatever you pull out is the ANSWER.  She must supply the question.  If you pull out 11 she has a variety of equations to choose from.  She has to create a truth mathematical sentence with 11 as the answer and addition as the operation.  She could say:

10 + 1
3 + 8
5.5 + 5.5
4 + 7
7 + 4   and so on.

I'm sure you get the idea.  I believe that this is far more useful than simply providing the answer to a question from a  flashcard.  3 + 7 has only ONE answer.  A child may answer 10 because the understand the concept of addition and are applying this knowledge, OR they may simply parrot off what they have memorized.  Allowing kids to drill math facts in this game empowers them, IMO, to find patterns in math.  To work with harder numbers and to be challenged.  When kids get a chance to exercise their reasoning skills they will rise to the occasion, pleasing parent/teacher AND themselves.

The first time we played this game my son had 15 on his first try.  He chose to answer with this equation: 3 + 7 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 0.  I was blown away.  This gave me far more insight into how he was processing math concepts than any worksheet or drill card ever could.

In fact, at that math club meeting the children were making discovery after discovery. One child "got it" that multiplication is really quick addition.  You could SEE that light bulb moment when she realized that 2 + 2 + 2 is really the same as 2 x 3.  It was as if she suddenly got it that it isn't true because mom said so - it's true because it's true!  It was a real joy to be there for that moment.

A five year old child discovered what I call the Magic Zero.  EVERY turn she would say 5 + 0 = 5 or 12 + 0 =12.  Some of the kids murmured about her taking the easy road.  I had a chance to talk about the importance of discovering the underlying patterns in math.  AND instead of reprimanding the kids for being a bit mean I was able to commend her.  She had figured out she could "score" more points working with higher numbers even though she hadn't learned those fact families :)  This was one bright girl.  After only 3 turns she started calling for subtraction and using the trusty, magic zero once more.  She'd call out 16 - 0 = 16 without hesitation, with a large grin on her face.  She was smiling too when she collected those points!

I'd love to hear your experiences if you play this game and all the discoveries your children uncover.

Email Dawne