8 Games you can Repurpose for Learning

Updated: Jun 6

“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.”

Diane Ackerman

It goes without saying, having fun is the best way to boost learning. As teachers, we are always trying to find creative ways to make what we are trying to teach exciting for our students.

We love to put a learning spin on some of those classic games we have all played and enjoyed as children here at Rainbow Sky Creations. Every time we share these ideas on social media, teachers are always asking for more! So we decided to put them all together in one place for you. Most of these games will be items you own at home, or that can be picked up cheaply from a thrift store.

If you play any of these in your classroom or at home, we would love to hear about it!

1. Building Block Algorithms

Repurpose building blocks to practise multiplication fluency, addition skills, or creating algorithms. It is also a great way to explore relationships between numbers because it provides kids with a great visual scaffold.

Find our making $1 printable (as pictured) here.

2. Guess Who Math

This is the perfect game to assist your students in becoming confident and competent mathematicians when learning their number facts. It is played a little differently to the traditional ‘Guess Who’ game:

  1. Each player takes turns asking a question from the pile of question cards.

  2. If the player can answer the question, they flip down the answer on their board.

  3. If the player does not have the answer on their board they ‘pass’.

  4. Players continue to take turns in asking questions until one player has all their numbers flipped down.

We picked these boards up for $5 at our local Kmart in Australia.

Find Multiplication Guess Who here.

Find Addition and Subtraction Guess Who here.

3. Twister with a twist

Allocate a number to each colour and then choose a times table to work on. You then need to add the answers to the mat. For example, 8 times tables – The player that spins the spinner might say, ‘Put your right foot on 6x8’ and the other players need to find 48 etc.

Twister with a twist

You could also use your twister mat as a human game board. Record answers on each circle and ask kids to find the answer to a question by standing on the numbered dot. For example: Find 3 +? = 10. The student looks for 7 and stands on the mat and waits to answer the next question.

Twister: Human Game Board

4. Jenga

Give your Jenga game a spruce and add an element of mathematical thinking. Kids will love this way more than doing a worksheet or answering flashcards. Choose whatever the skill your students need to work on (in the photo we have chosen multiplication facts) and assign a question to each block (if you want to save time, write directly onto the block itself or use washi tape for the option to change the skill later on). Students need to answer the questions as they pull out the blocks.

Jenga for learning

5. Puzzles

Instead of using the pictures to complete a puzzle, students need to rely on their number skills. This is a great way to recycle old puzzles and is a more engaging way for kids to work on fact fluency then answering the same questions over and over.

6. Building Tracks

This gets kids learning with concrete materials to develop their addition fluency. This picture shows how to use wooden train tracks to practise friends to ten. Although, you could adapt this game to make the questions more challenging, to match numbers and words or even work on comparing numbers with greater than or less than symbols.

Repurpose a train set to create number sentences

7. UNO cards

UNO cards are colourful, so kids love working with them. They are also great for random number generating. Choose a card and the students need to work out their partner to 10. Alternatively, kids could practice adding 10 to random numbers as they pull them from the deck.

We could go on about UNO cards forever! In fact, we have written a whole blog post on how you can repurpose a simple pack of UNO cards for authentic and fun learning experiences. Read it here.

8. Connect Four

You can play this game, as usual, however before you get a turn, the player needs to answer a maths question. It might be:

- Friends to ten

- Adding/subtracting ten

- Times tables etc.

If the player answers correctly, they get to place a counter in the slot (if they get it wrong, they skip their turn).

Alternatively, you could play this game with fractions. Each player needs to try and make a whole with their counters.

So, go grab out those games you have sitting in your classroom cupboard or in storage at home and give them a new purpose. Your students will love you for it!

What to read next:

5 FUN Outdoor Maths Games

Awesome ways you can use UNO cards for learning

Games that kids will WANT to play to learn their times tables


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