I try to create a playful atmosphere in my maths classroom but I’m not a big fan of maths games. I find the students are too caught up in winning to notice the maths. I think that comes down more to the way I structure the lesson rather than the value of the game itself.

So today I tried a 2-person game with groups of 3. Two playing and one observing and noting what they notice and wonder on this recording sheet.

Everything slowed down – the discussion was rich and the thinking visible. Students were focused on working as a team to find strategies rather than working alone to be the winner.

Once they established some winning strategies they wrote ‘What if …?’ questions to see if their strategies still work with different parameters.

  • What if you start with the same number of counters?
  • What if you have 3 piles of counters?
  • What if you start with an odd number of counters one acc pile?
  • What if you start with one pile odd and one pile even?
  • What if you have 3, 4 or 5…. more counters in one pile than the other?
  • What if you have more than 2 players?
  • What if you win by being left with just one counter?

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