Games With Negative & Positive Numbers

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Use games to learn how to work with positive and negative numbers

There are many ways to teach students how to add, subtract, multiply and divide both positive and negative numbers. Games are an excellent teaching tool for helping students learn while keeping them entertained. From computer games to adding a math twist to popular game shows, there are several methods you can use to teach people how to work with negative numbers. Here are some examples, ranging from Bingo to computer space games.

  1. Matching

    • Matching games teach addition and subtraction of negative numbers and also encourage students to see who can get done first. Create a worksheet with a large grid and place a problem in each box. Give each student different colored squares the same size as the squares of the grid, with an answer written on each square. Set a timer and when you say go, students race to put the right answer on the problem. The first one done with all correct answers wins. For older students, use multiplication and subtraction of negative numbers as well.

      The same idea can be applied to the game of Bingo. Make a Bingo card with positive and negative numbers. Call out various problems and students can place a Bingo chip over the correct answer. The first person to create a Bingo wins. Give students scrap paper to work the problems out on if needed.

    Jeopardy

    • Students may also enjoy playing a game of the popular TV show Jeopardy. On the board write up four categories: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. If the students are too young for multiplication and division, make the four categories varying difficulty levels such as Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. Then write point values from 1 to 5 underneath each category. Have a stack of note cards with the corresponding row and point value on the backside and the question and answer on the front. Divide students into teams and let them pick a category and point value, then whoever gets the question right first gets to pick the next category. The winner is the student who has the most points at the end.

    Online Games

    • There are several online games that teach addition and subtraction of negative numbers. These include Line Jumper, Mystery Picture and Space Coupe. In Line Jumper, students choose a number line and are given an equation. They must then pick the right answer on the number line. Mystery Picture is a grid of answers. Students match the equations to the right answer to reveal a secret picture underneath. In the PBS game Space Coupe, the student pilots a helicopter-like machine and must choose how far up or down the number line to travel. The goal is to land on the same line as the enemy target. They have four minutes and 26 seconds to destroy all the enemies to win.

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