Factoring in Classroom Math Games


Today was unofficially factor day in my fourth grade math classroom.  The lesson focused on factors, prime/composite numbers and prime factorization. For some students, the lesson reinforced preconceived notions, while others were introduced to a fairly new concept.  The goal of the lesson was for students to develop a deeper understanding of factors and the role that they play in mathematics.  I decided to use a variety of math games to review the concept, as well as to extend the concept of factors. One of my favorite methods to review and enrich the learning experience is to use math games in the classroom.  Math games often encourage students to take risks and use strategies in an attempt to win.  In the process they often have to work together to ask questions and clarify their mathematical understanding.

Today began with a brief mini lesson on factors.  I then split up the class into stations.  Each station was designed to reinforce and provide enrichment opportunities.  Students worked in partners at every station.  In some stations they worked together, while in others they were competitors.  Here are the stations:

Factor Captor
Factor Captor

Factor Captor – This is a staple game in my classroom. There are three different levels and students progress to the next level when they feel ready. To play this game students need to be able to identify prime and composite numbers. Here’s a short video of the game in process.  A template with sheets can be found here.

Divisibility Dash
Divisibility Dash

Divisibility Dash – This iPad app is designed (at least for me) for students to work in groups to identify various factors.  I found this app for free about a year ago and took advantage.  Many McGraw Hill apps are free during special times of the year.  Students record their scores/factors on a separate sheet of paper.

Sliding Factors
Sliding Factors

Sliding Factors is a computer game that encourages students to find factors of composite numbers.  There’s a two player function, which definitely comes in handy.  While browsing the #mathchat tag I saw @Richard_wade post a link to this game.

  • I should also mention that one section of the classroom was designed to be an “exit card” station.  Students completed a quick three question formative assessment and I discussed the answers with them.  This is another opportunity to give direct feedback that may help the student clear up misconceptions and help them make mathematical connections.

When used correctly, math games can truly benefit students.  When the students are in stations I like to sneak by the groups and listen in on the math talk that’s happening.  The math talk often gives students an opportunity to defend their mathematical thinking.  Students often correct each other, but are generally respectful in the process.  Tomorrow the class will be writing up a quick reflection of the station/factor experience in their math journal.

How do you use math games in the classroom?

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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