Math review games can breathe life into your classroom, especially in the dreaded spring semester. All teachers know the following things to be true:

- February is crazy!
- We will all hope/pray for a snow day (even the crazy Texas folks).
- We will all feel the pressure of standardized testing.

In light of that pressure, I wanted to provide a few math review ideas that require students to “get up and move”. **Movement in the classroom, we know its a good thing, yet sometimes it is difficult to manage. ** Most students enjoy getting out of their seats and doing their work in another part of the class, whether that be with a group or individually. If managed well, it can we a win-win. Students learning and working happily, teachers facilitating conversation, asking questions, and floating around the room. Wait, maybe that was in my dreams.

All joking aside, there are three different types of math review games I would like to share. These are not limited to testing and as mentioned as feedback in the reader survey, hopefully a few tricks to get students engaged to add to your toolbox.

# Math Review Game: Speed Dating

## What is Speed Dating?

Speed Dating is a review game in which students are paired and face each other. I often would turn my room into 3 rows of pairs (6 total), going the length of the room. Students become experts at a specific problem and then switch partners and get a new problem to solve. Since each partner is an expert at their own problem, students should be able to help each other if needed. I used whiteboards to show work and had a recording sheet for students to turn in and keep track. Students would have time to become experts and I would check their work. Then, we would set the timer. Student would switch problems with their partner, work the new problem, check, and get their original question back. Time goes off, one row of students switch.

## Why I Love Speed Dating?

Obviously speed dating is a hit for the laughter and awkwardness that come with the title. Aside from that there are some other sneaky tricks that I get to utilize:

- The goal is work quickly which improves their fluency and practice.
- It requires minimal set up. A set of cards with problems (1 per student), white boards, and a recording sheet.
- Students love it and are moving but all at the same time and on my command.
- I can easily differentiate the class. As I mentioned before I had three different rows of pairs and based on where each student was seated I could differentiate. Maybe you have some kids who are doing well with the concept? Seat them in a row and give them a more challenging set of cards. Maybe everyone needs some practice? Seat students in a peer tutoring setting, where one student is more comfortable with the topic.
- Everyone is in a seat. Controlled chaos, need I say more?

## Downsides to Speed Dating?

Since the goal of speed dating is to be quick and fun, it can be tricky to have a time limit. Also, there is for sure noise and conversation taking place, so you have to be okay with those two factors.

## The Key to Speed Dating?

Students have to get quiet when the timer goes off, so have some sort of signal that they are familiar with, or you will lose them quickly.

I have done this with a class of 32 ninth grade Algebra 1 students, not sure if that is something to be proud of or if I am just plain crazy. It was fun, really fun!

# Math Review Game: Challenge

*Disclaimer* I have not ever used challenge, but my sister, who teaches sixth grade, saw it used once and now implements it regularly in her classroom.

## What is Challenge?

Challenge is a fast paced head-to-head competition. It is perfect for math facts, vocabulary, identifying geometric concepts/shapes, pretty much anything quick that you want students to move to long term memory. It looks a lot like The Family Feud. The class is divided into two teams and they line the wall of each side of the classroom. A contestant from each side approaches the center of the room where the teacher calls the problem. Depending on the content, it can be as low prep as “7×8” or as organized as having a problem projected for everyone to display. Keep track of which team has the most points and that team wins one challenge point for the semester/week/month.

*The best part: it is all done in silence. Students know their team, move to a line, and stand in line in silence. Obviously this is a taught and practiced routine. *

## Why I (my sister) Love Challenge?

It is the perfect sponge activity. Three minutes left in class, quickly get challenge going. The fire drill messed up your schedule, another perfect challenge opportunity. A few other great reasons to try it:

- You can easily differentiate it. Since you choosing the problems as each set of students come up, you can bump it up or take an opportunity to build confidence.
- It can last as long as you want. Because each challenge match is worth only one point, it doesn’t matter how many problems you ask.
- Kids love it. Fun, quick practice.
- The contest goes as long as you want. This minimizes the questions about prizes, what they get if they win, and extending the length, since each team only earns one point for each match.

## Downsides to Challenge?

The routine of this activity has to be explicitly taught and practiced to keep things silent and moving. Some students may get a little nervous being in front of the class, so be sure to set the expectations that this a safe place.

# Math Review Game: Scavenger Hunts

## What are Scavenger Hunts?

Scavenger hunts are my go to math review activity. 10-12 problems are posted around the room, each page having the solution to a different problem. It functions like a loop. Students are paired (or in a trio) and move from problem to problem solving it, identifying the solution in the room, and then working that problem. Students are finished when they return to their original problem.

## Why I love Scavenger Hunts?

Scavenger hunts are my go to activity for a unit review. I love that I can mix up the content, and since there is a full page, I can include word problems. Aside from that, there are some other sneaky tricks that I get to utilize:

- Fairly easy to prep. Determine which problems, work them out and then organize them on the paper. Be careful to make the loop work correctly or you will have students ending early without completing all of the problems.
- Self checking. Students immediately know if they have the correct answer or not and can rework it before moving on.
- Easy for the teacher to assist. Often times it is obvious which problem(s) can be roadblocks, so I would position myself near that area of the classroom to help students.
- Perfect for multistep word problem practice.
- If you don’t finish them all, totally okay.

## Downsides the Scavenger Hunts?

Students will eventually catch on that it is a loop, so you have to keep an eye out for that. Also, since it is a “move at your own pace” activity without a timer, occasionally multiple groups will end up at the same question.

Overall, I love using scavenger hunts and my students did too.

I have always found the key to student engagement and buy-in is two fold: a relationship and a relevant classroom. These three math review games will help with both aspects.

Abigail says

We also love Scavenger Hunts! If you’re careful not to duplicate answers, you can also have two or three "levels" of Scavenger Hunts going at the same time! I’ve also been creating games called Whodunnit based on a review game I tried once from Teachers Pay Teachers. We enjoy two twists on Jeopardy style games called Star Wars and a vocab-based game called Password. We also like to do stations.

Noelle Pickering says

Yes, great ideas Abigail! I will have to look up Whodunnit, that is a new one for me. Anything to keep students working, learning, and having fun! Makes for a much easier day.

Matt Miller says

I tried Speed Dating with my students once this past year and the kids loved it! It’s an activity that you need to give a bit of time to during class so that students have adequate time to become “experts” at their problem. But there is a lot of opportunity for differentiation and confidence building! Scavenger hunts are my favorite. Students really get into trying to figure out the correct order of all the cards. And it’s a great activity to have the class work on while you work with small groups!

Noelle Pickering says

Oh yay! I am glad you had such a great experience with Speed Dating! It can get a little noisy! 😉 And yes, perfect idea for the class to be working on scavenger hunts while you pull a small group.

Tracy Kaufman says

We love scavenger hunts too! Another favorite is mad lib…each problem has four answer choices with a word next to each. Once they complete the problem, they find the word next to the correct answer and put it in their mad lib story. Some of our stories get a little crazy but the kids love it! And for the faster problems, I often use Kahoot! We do lots of activities and games in my math class to keep the kids interested.

Amanda Baum says

Speed Dating and Scavenger hunts are a big heck yes. I also just do straight up task cards without the loop, and I get pretty creative with how I hide them. Sometimes if my kids have been really awesome I hide them in our hallway and it becomes an Out in the World scavenger hunt. They love it!

Another favorite is Secret Word Vocab Review. Kind of like task cards or a scavenger hunt with vocab terms, and for each problem, I give them a clue to circle a particular letter in their answer. At the end, they unscramble the special letters for a secret word. They love it!

Last one… Quizlet Live. SO FUN.

I’m excited to try Challenge!!

Aleastrice says

Good afternoon. I know this is an old post but I was hoping you could clarify the scavenger hunt game for me. Am I correct in this interpretation of the game.You have different problems and answers posted around the room? And the students are to solve the problem and identify which answer goes to which problem? Thank you!

Tyne Brack says

Almost. Here is a link to a post with a better explanation. Hope that helps!

Becki says

We love SCOOT as well as I Have, Who Has? games. These types of games can be fun for all subjects and we use them for a fun way to review before an assessment. The only downside I see to I Have, Who Has? is that once a student’s card has been called, and their turn is over, they sometimes feel they no longer have to pay attention.

Noelle Pickering says

Great thoughts, Becki!