One of my favorite school memories came from a high school chemistry teacher right before Christmas. Every year, he hosted a science themed Christmas trivia game. And it was a big deal. Classes competed against each other. Everyone looked forward to it. He made it a special event. The questions were challenging and yet somehow (loosely) related to the science we were studying.
With my own classroom, I wanted to create a similar experience. A few years back I found the addictive trivia game Wits and Wagers. It was so much fun to play with family and friends, and I realized that it would make a great holiday game in my classroom.
Creating a Christmas trivia game
Inspired, I created a version of the trivia game for my classroom. Students loved it! And as a teacher, I loved it too. Here’s what was so great about this trivia game:
- Students worked in groups. They had to communicate and collaborate. And they had to negotiate to generate an answer and determine their wagers together.
- Students practiced estimation. They had to evaluate answer choices and determine reasonableness. These are math practices that are so important for them to develop.
- It was fun! Students were really into it and for the last day before Christmas break it felt like a class treat.
- Everyone had a chance to shine. No one started off as “good” at this game. The questions were different than the types of questions we work on in school. Even the smartest kids could struggle to find reasonable answers. Watching students work so well as a team warmed my teacher heart!
How to play the game:
In this game, students will be presented with a variety of questions that have numerical answers. The questions range from “How many total gifts are given during the 12 days of Christmas?” to “How much did the average U.S. family spend on Christmas gifts in 2015?” Students will come up with an answer. Then, when presented with all answers, they will wager on what answer(s) they think are closest to the right answer.
- Break the class into groups of 4 to 5 students. Give each group a small whiteboard or dry-erase sleeve. Assign each group a mascot and give them the wager cards that match. I use clipart for the various cards including reindeer, Santa, an elf, a candy cane, etc.
- Ask a question of the whole class. (shown here: How much did the average U.S. family spend on Christmas presents in 2015?)
- Each group writes their best guess and gives the whiteboard with their answer
to the teacher.
- The teacher sorts the answers from all groups from least to greatest. Then, display all answers on the chalk tray so all teams can see the answers.
- As a team, students try to guess which answer is correct. They want to choose the answer that is closest to the actual answer without going over. Each group can choose, or place a wager, on two answers. They have two guesses, one that is worth 2 points and the other is worth 1 point. Each group places their wager cards in front of the numbers they are choosing. They can place their wager cards on their own whiteboard/answer. They can also put all 3 wager points on the same number if they’re feeling confident.
- Reveal the correct answer. The winning number is the one closest to the correct answer without going over the number. Award points as follows: 3 points for the team(s) providing the closest answer (without going over). Also, all of the teams that placed their wagers on that answer get the number of points they wagered.
- Each group collects their whiteboard and wager cards. Then, start again with a new question and keep going until your time, or questions, are up.
- Keep team points on the board, and enjoy the fun!
Are you in?
I can’t wait to play this game again in my classroom this week! If you are looking for a fun game to play in your classroom, you can find this game ready to print and go here. This download includes a presentation with 13 questions, wager cards for the different teams, and printable game directions. I’d love for your class to join our trivia game tradition and look forward to hearing about your favorite holiday games.
For even more Christmas math fun, check out the 12 Days of Christmas Math Activities. Thanks for reading! Until next time.
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