Billy Bug: Coordinate Graphing Game

I am a huge fan of simple games for upper elementary students. Sometimes the less flashy, the better, so that students can understand the purpose and the math behind them. One of my favorite games to have available for students to play is Billy Bug. It is a coordinate graphing game and it’s super easy and fun.

Usually I do a “game talk”, similar to a book talk, where I introduce how to play the game.  Showing just a few examples, even my third graders catch on. It is a really fun introduction to coordinate graphing, the concept of negative numbers in the advanced version, and the x and y axis. (Click on the photos below to go to the two versions.)

Basic Version (without negative numbers)

Advanced Version (with negative numbers)

I’ve also used this with 4th and 5th graders as a short warm up during a summer school educational games online class.  It is simple enough that it can be played for 5 minutes.  That is really all you need!

A great review of coordinate graphing in a simple and fun way!

Bump and Wild to Three in a Row: A Math Play Activity

I have to say that social media has really opened me up to be a better parent and teacher. The amount of things I see on a daily basis make me a better thinker and person. I’ve been on a mission to do 20 minutes of math play with my daughter, and was inspired by these posts by Pre-K Pages and Scott’s Brick by Brick.

The ziploc quilt is extremely easy to make and the building of this game was an entire 20 minutes of math problem solving for one day alone! We made our quilt out of stuff that we already had around the house:

• colorful duct tape
• ziploc bags
• paper
• giant duplo blocks

All we had to do was make a simple array. While we were making it we talked about skip counting by three. I made mine with 12 ziplock bags and made a “quilt” by laying them onto the sticky side of the duct tape. Then we covered the sticky underside with masking tape so it wouldn’t stick to the floor.

The object of the game? Simply get three of your game pieces in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

For our first game I made a deck of cards for the draw pile of three types to be played in the following way:

1. Numbers 1-12 in standard form: Find a matching representation of that number on the board.  (If your number is already taken due to a bump or wild card, you lose your turn.)
2. Bump card: bump someone’s piece off and replace it with your own.
3. Wild card: place your game piece on any open space.

Then I made 12 cards to slip into the ziplock bags for the game board.  I mixed the representations up and made tally marks, word form and dots to make the standard form cards. I wanted to make five and ten frames but I wasn’t sure I could draw them evenly enough (and our printer is out of ink!). I’ll probably try that next time.

Playing with three players made each game both quick and fun.  We were totally addicted.  I think the three of us played for an hour straight. The game wasn’t purely about matching, but included thinking about where to put a wild piece, as well as which piece would be the best to bump. My five year old began picking up strategies and we were amazed at her thinking!

The possibilities are endless for what can go in the quilt!

I think I am going to see if we can make these in my third grade classroom for the kindergarten mentors we work with!  Making them will mean that they’ll need to use their multiplication skills to make the quilt.

This is a great after school play activity!

Fit: A Free Multiplication Strategy Game Using Arrays

Tis’ the time of year to learn multiplication! I’ve created a new game (TOTALLY free for you to grab) for my students. My third graders have gone absolutely *bonkers* over it.  We had been studying arrays as a way to represent multiplication, when it hit me that legos are a beautiful and motivating way to explore arrays!  Truth be told the idea came to me at about 3:00 A.M. (isn’t that when our best ideas come to us?) to try to make this a game.

In this game the student multiplies the array of each piece they lay down. (Example: a 2 x 4 piece is written on the recording sheet as 2 x 4 = 8.) They can only lay down a piece by connecting corners, which makes it challenging to fit as many pieces as they can. In the end there is a good amount of mental math addition of multiple numbers that is required to determine the winner. There is a challenge mode included where the students multiply the two blocks together (and in some cases three blocks where the corners touch). This is more appropriate for the practice of facts, as well as for multiplying two or more numbers together.

This resource includes:

1. Introduction, and game set up tips
2. Recording sheet
3. Regulation mode instructions
4. Challenge mode instructions

Right now we have a tournament going on, in which the winner chooses a \$25 lego set as a prize.  They are so motivated that they are staying in at recess to play practice games.

Check it out!

Thanks to Nancy for the link up!

Thanks to Charity Preston for the link up!