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Mathematical Games

Mathematical Games

A game, in the context of mathematical learning and teaching, is an activity whose strategies, rules and outcomes are aimed at achieving understanding of mathematical concepts. According to Gough (2004), a game is supposed to have more than one player who takes turns to compete against each other so that they can achieve a winning of some sort. For a game to have some mathematical value, the players have to exercise choice in the playing. Winning should not be by chance but through the player using some skills. Gough (2004) and Burns (2009) developed a number of games to help teach mathematical concepts. The games include races, board games, spatial strategy games, numerical strategy games, four strikes, seven up, 101 and out, target 300 and others. These games were meant to improve mathematical skills of students through playing. For instance, Four Strikes is meant to develop mathematical reasoning in students where they learn to make reasoned out guesses.

Another game, the 101 and out is used to develop mental computation skills. It also enhances understanding of place values. Basic strategy games, on the other hand, can be used to develop investigative skills among learners. This is because this game is basically about players trying to discover winning strategies. This is done by players analyzing the possible outcome of a move or moves (Burns, 2009). Basically, most mathematical games are aimed at developing fast computation skills in students, mathematical reasoning, general mathematical skills involving multiplication, addition, division and subtraction, analyzing skills, investigative skills and problem solving skills.

In order to suit age and ability, mathematical games are adjusted in terms of complexity. For instance, the Four Strikes can be adjusted by including long numbers (Gough, 2004). This makes experienced players to find new challenges. The most appropriate games that can enhance development of mathematical skills include the Four Strikes, 101 and out, basic strategy game and board games.


Burns, M. (2009). Win win math games. Instructor March/April pp. 23-29.

Gough, J. (2004). Playing mathematical games: When is a game not a game? In L. Sparrow & P. Swan (Eds.) APM selected writings (pp. 189-193). Adelaide: AAMT.