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Games allow students to experiment and get a deep understanding of a concept, which might otherwise be cost- or time- inefficient in real life. However, as an educator wanting to leverage the potential of games, understanding how to use these tools in a lesson or a unit is not a simple as reading the game manual, if it even has one.

This guide will help answer questions that you have in using games for your math classroom.

 

A Mathematician’s Perspective

Keith Devlin, the “math guy” on National Public Radio, on using video games to teach math.

 

Top Picks

Dragonbox

Dragonbox’s gameplay models operations and arithmetic that students learn in pre-algebra and algebra curricula.

Lure of the Labyrinth

A monster-inhabited world comes to life as students plunge into a shadowy factory on a pet-rescue mission.

Refraction

Refraction players bend, split, and redirect lasers to power spaceships while expanding their knowledge of fractions.

Treefrog Treasure

A platform-based game in which players explore fractions and number concepts… as a frog!

MinecraftEDU

A custom modification to Minecraft that provides helpful tools for classroom implementation.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Math covers a broad range of topics and themes. Can games really teach math effectively?
Yes! Games are an engaging way for students to both learn and practice math concepts. However, educators need to identify the learning objectives of the game and think about what type of skills students will attain while playing the game before integrating it into the classroom. Also, some games can require a fair bit of class time, so educators should be cognizant of how long it takes to play and to what extent they want to utilize a game so that students achieve the desired learning goals. When looking for games, consider if students should play in their own time, in pairs or at home so that concepts can then be discussed in class. The game is your tool to use as you see fit in your classroom.
I heard that Minecraft is a great game to use in a math class. Will it take a lot of time to integrate this game into my classroom?
It is absolutely necessary to spend many hours beforehand to understand the mechanics of a game such as Minecraft, and what it can and can’t do. Fortunately, Minecraft has a dedicated education version and website. Minecraft’s pros include student engagement, teacher near-omnipotence, and a learning by doing pedagogy. Cons include time, both in setting up the game and how long the whole activity lasts.

 

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Help Shape this Guide!

The topics, content and presentation of our guides are crafted by members of the Playful Learning network. We’re open to suggestions for improving this guide and others, ideas for new topics to cover and questions to answer, and tips or testimonials that will help other educators. Whatever your idea, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us with your suggestion and we’ll get right back to you.