I finally found the time to participate in the #MSMathChat on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. It was great to connect with other middle school math teachers and just TALK. One of the many ideas that we tossed around was about using games in the classroom. Julie (@jreulbach) put together a Google Spreadsheet as a way to collect such ideas. My contribution was a variation of a card game my family and I used to play when I was growing up.
The game is called Golf. The object of the original game is to get a score as close to zero as possible with four cards. It’s fairly simple: each player (and you can play with 2 players all the way up to 8–I wouldn’t go beyond that) is dealt 4 cards. Players lay them face down in a row on the table in front of them (without looking!), like so (forgive the glare from my kitchen island):
Each card has a point value assigned to it: A = 1, 1-10 are face value, J-Q = 10 each and K = 0. Jokers are pulled out of the deck (unless you want to modify the game to include them somehow). You are allowed to now look at the middle two cards ONLY, and only once until you decide to switch out a card on your turn. The player to the left of the dealer begins the game by either choosing the card in the discard pile or from the top of the draw deck. (In the case above, I would have left the Queen alone and chosen a card from the draw deck.) Upon choosing a card, you can either discard it or switch it out with ANY of the four cards in front of you. The trick is to remember what the middle two cards are OR pray that you’re making a good choice if you choose to switch out either end card (which you’ve been forbidden from seeing). Once you’ve made the switch or discarded what you drew from the draw deck, your turn is over. (Once cards are in place, you can’t look at them again–you will have to brush up on some memory skills if you want to do well with this game!) Play continues in this fashion until one player at the table feels he/she has the lowest scoring hand, and on their turn knocks on the table to signal the final round. (This player doesn’t get to play–the knock is their turn.) Once the final round is over, all players turn their cards over and commence to counting their scores. The player with the lowest score wins.
In the original game, this player would have had a very bad score, indeed! 24 points is horrible! However, when I modified this for working with integers, I made black cards positive and red cards negative. The object with the modified version was to still get the lowest score, but now there were many different combinations for the lowest score. In that case, this player would have done very well…-13 points is pretty good!
This game was a good way for me to gauge my students’ number sense regarding integers and how they related to each other on a number line. I provided laminated number lines for them to use during play to help them determine the winner. The kids had a great time playing and still ask to play from time to time! Try it out with your kids and let me know how it goes! If you modify it and find it successful, let me know that too!