Children often learn math best with concrete, reallife, physical examples that they can feel, touch, move and manipulate. Educational suppliers have long known this, and sell many different kinds of math games and manipulatives. Many of these you can make easily and inexpensively yourself. If you find you use these often, you may wish to print and laminate a set to use with crayons or dryerase markers, both of which will wipe off the laminated surface with a cloth or tissue.
Code Breaker (like Mastermind)
You will need:
graph paper
a variety of different coloured pencil crayons, markers or crayons
a ruler and/or scissors
optional: plastic page protector
To make:
You will need to cut out or mark out a rectangle that is 14 squares long and 6 squares wide. Either fold or draw a line lengthwise that is two squares from one of the long edges. Make two accordionstyle folds at the last two rows of squares at one end (the width) to make a triangular stand like so: _______________/\ . This is where the code maker (player 1) will mark the code and hide it from the other player.
For a reusable version of this game, use a ruler to draw out a 10 x 6 rectangle on graph paper, then slide the paper inside a sheet protector. Use dry erase markers or crayons for play. Player 1 now writes the code on the back of the sheet instead of on the raised edge. An alternative is to make a cutout version and cover it in packing tape.
To play:
Player 1 is the code maker. Before making the code, decide on what colours will be available to be used. Reserve two colours (usually red and black) to use as markers to indicate a correct colour or position and colour.
Player 1 marks their code on the back of the raised part of the paper.
Player 2, the code breaker, tries a first guess by marking colours in the first 4 squares of the first row of flat squares. The last two squres are reserved for player 1 to mark the correct guesses.
For every correct colour in the WRONG place, player 1 makes a red mark. For every correct colour in the CORRECT place, player 1 makes a black mark. You can use actual digits for this rather than dots, with no correct ones being shown with a 0.
Players continue guessing and correcting until either player 2 breaks the code, or runs out of rows for guessing. Players then switch roles and continue. You can keep a talley of how many clues each player needed, or simply count games as you go.
Black
To play this game, start with a 6 x 6 grid. Using the patterns of the tiles at the top of the image to the right, players alternate turns by filling in lines of a roadway. The player may choose any of the patterns on his or her turn. The intersection pattern may only be used in a straight line; only the curves can make turns in the road.
The game starts in the upper lefthand corner and the object of the game is to reach the bottom righthand square without forfeiting the game by forcing the road off of the grid. Players must not play a turn that forces the road to leave the page; if the main roadway cannot stay on the page with their turn, the player forfeits the game.
A free printable filefolder version of this game can be found at this link.
Bird Cage
Start by drawing (or printing) two superimposed grids of circles, one 5 x 6 and one 6 x 5 as illustrated to the left.
Players choose a colourblack or white. The players take turns drawing a line either vertically or horizontally between two of their adjacent circles. Black must try and make a continuous path that connects the right and left sides of the playing field, and white must connect the top and bottom of the field. The players must not cross lines made already. The first player to complete their path wins.
Click here for a free printable filefolder version of this game.
Labyrinth
To play this maze game, start with two 6 x 6 sections of graph paper per player. Mark out letters and numbers as shown above on each grid.
Now each player uses 20 lines to darken to create their own labyrinth on one of their grids. These lines must not create any closed "islands", nor may they seal off any squares along the edges or continue for longer than three continuous squares.
Now each player chooses a square to start and a square to finish and marks them "S" and "F". The players tell each other what the starting and ending points are, and they mark these on their blank grids.
The first player begins by choosing a square adjacent to the starting square. In the example above, that player could choose either E6 or F5. The other player must tell the first if there is a wall in the way. If not, the first player may move there and indicates this on their blank grid. If there is a wall in the way, the player may not move and must wait until their next turn.
The play continues until one player reaches their finish position. This player is the winner.
A free printable filefolder version of this game can be found at this link.
Battleship Coordinates Game Create your own Battleshipstyle game by using graph paper and construction paper. Decide on the size of your grid then draw 4 squares, 2 for each player. Label the vertical axis alphabetically and the horizontal axis numerically, and repeat on all 4 grids. Decide on the number and size of the ships you will use, then cut out the ships for each player from construction paper. Place your ships (hidden from the other player) on one of the grids. Use a pencil to trace around them in case they slip out of place.
Player 1 chooses a set of coordinates, say, "E5". Player 2 checks to see if any of his or her ships occupy that space, and reports either "hit" or "Miss". Use a pencil to mark the hits and misses. Player 2 then takes a turn. Once all the coordinates that a ship occupies have been "hit", the ship is sunk, and the owner must report that to the other player. The object of the game is to sink the other players ships before they sink yours.
Of course, you can always play this with a more peaceful theme, such as "treasure hunt" with treasures of various sizesuse your imagination!
If you find you play often, you may wish to laminate the grids and use dryerase markers or wipeoff crayons to mark the ships and hit/miss information. You can also use sheet protectors if you use a full sheet of graph paper inside and just outline your playing area. If you use a cutout grid, it may slide around inside the sheet protector.
More math games, manipulatives you can make and additional math activities can be found here.
Also check my blog for more math and other educational activities:
http://lemonadebyll.blogspot.ca/
More Math Links from Lemonade:
 Math Links
Spatial Mathematics:
Mobius Strips and other Dimensional Wonders: the Mathematics of Topology
Mobius Bagels and Other Topological Challenges
Graphically Simulated Video on Mobius Transformations
Mandelbrot Sets in 3D: Math and Art Meet in Chaos
Origami, Architecture and Topology Photography
Penrose Tiles
Geometrical Experiments in Art
Explorations:
Scratch: MIT's kid's programming language (free download)
Hilarious Videos on Mathematical Ideas from Vi Hart
Magic Squares, Fibonacci Series and other Fun Numbers to Explore
Excellent Infographic All About Pi
How Archimedes Approximated Pi
All About Quantum Mathematics
More Math and Strategy Games
Paper and Pencil Math Games
Wild About MathMore Paper and Pencil Games
Instructional, Applied Mathematics, Math Contests, Tools
The Myth of Being "Bad at Math"
Better Than PEDMAS: Why Having Students Memorize the Order of Operations Does Them a Disservice
Khan Academy: Online Instructional Math Videos
Easy Explanations for Advanced Math and Computing
Jim's Algebra Hints
Solving Equations as Proofs
The Best Way to Factor Trinomials
Engineering Megasite of Applied Math and Science Activities and Resources for Grades K12
CEMC: Home of the UW Mathematics Competitions (loads of math resources)
Canadian Math Contests
Wolfram Alpha Computational Search Engine
All About Sliderules and How to Use One
101 Uses for a Quadratic Equation
101 Uses for a Quadratic Equation Part 2
Resources for Math Teachers
The Myth of Being "Bad at Math"
Biographies of Mathematicians
Common Math Mistakes
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Illusions: NCTM Virtual Manipulatives
Geometer's Sketchpad (sorry, this one is not free)
The Power of Grace in Teaching
Math Books: Big Ideas for Small Mathematicians &
Big Ideas for Growing Mathematicians Ann Kajander
Math for Smarty Pants Marilyn Burns
Math Games for Middle School Mario George Salvadori
MindSharpening Logic Games Andrea Angiolino
Mathematics Made Simple, 6th Ed. Thomas Cusick
Chaos James Gleick
Also: look for math titles by Martin Gardnerthere are too many to list here
Other Resources:
Microcosms Brandon Broll (Microscopic images up to 20 million x magnificationI added this because it shows patterns, scale, Fibonacci in nature, etc.)
Online Magazines & General Math Sites
Plus Magazine
A+ Click
