Are you ready for some football?
This football game gets students mentally into math review. In fact, this is the best team game I’ve ever played with students. It students working together in a way I’ve never seen before. And from a preparation standpoint, this game is simple to prepare for and easy to explain to students. It’s quickly become one of my go-to review activities in my math classroom. Let me break down exactly how we play math football in my classroom, and share some extra game resources with you.
Students play on two different teams with the football “field” on the class whiteboard. The teacher serves as the referee and coordinator of the game. I split students into two teams and have them choose a mascot. For example, the other day they chose Sharks and Unicorns. If you play the game multiple times, they could keep the same team names.
I just played this game with students earlier this week, and what I saw was amazing. All the students worked the given problem, then they naturally started checking with each other. The best part was when students didn’t get it, the other students started explaining it to them. This game brought out all the best math talk and collaborative work I could ever want to see in my classroom.
-Math problems (task cards or worksheet)
-Optional-magnets to represent each team. Click here for some free team decals.
Step by Step Instructions
1st Step-Draw a football field on the whiteboard that you are using. Above you can see the field the first time I played, and below you’ll see how I set it up now. It literally took me 3 minutes to create this board.
2nd Step-Break your class into 2 teams and have teams choose a name. Choose some sort of marker to represent the teams. These markers will move across the board to show where each team is on the field. I used magnet hands seen on the first board above and each team had their own color. Also, I’ve used pictures like those below and added a magnet to the back (tip: a great way to get a magnet sheet for things like this is to purchase a magnetic vent cover, or use free promotional magnets from companies).
3rd Step-Flip a coin to see who starts with the ball first.
4th Step-Give the class a problem to complete. All students complete the problem. I have students all show their answer and their work on a SmartPal dry-erase sleeve (you could do the same thing with whiteboards, or if you don’t have those, a paper record would work too).
5th Step- Option A: The team with the ball gets a consensus answer. If they are right, they get to spin the wheel or choose a card that determines how many yards they gain, depending on which method you are using. If they are wrong, it’s a loss of a down. The team has three downs to gain 10 yards of they give the ball to the other team who then starts at their own 20 yard. We don’t do punts because it just gets too complicated.
5th Step- Option B: All students answer every question. I have students all show their answer and their work on a SmartPal dry-erase sleeve (you could do the same thing with whiteboards, or if you don’t have those, a paper record would work too). That way you don’t just have a couple of kids participating. To increase the individual accountability even more, a random player on the team will be called on to answer the question.
When the question is presented, students on both teams work to answer the question. Then, a player on the team with the ball is randomly selected. They give their answer. If they’re right, they get to spin the wheel or choose a card that determines how many yards they gain, depending on which method you are using. If they are wrong, then the other team has a chance to answer. When they get it right, it’s a turnover and they get to answer the next question. When they’re wrong, then it’s a loss of down and the team with the ball gets the next problem. The team has three downs to gain 10 yards of they give the ball to the other team who then starts at their own 20 yard. We don’t do punts because it just gets too complicated.
6th Step-When one team reaches the end zone, they get 7 points. Then, the other team starts with the ball on their own 20 yard line. You keep playing until time is up, and the team with the most points scored wins.
Task Cards We Use With This Game
This game works best with problems that don’t take too long to complete. I love using task cards as a problem bank. I just print out a set of task cards and then have ready made problems for any number of math review games.
Here’s a few task cards that work well with this football game:
Websites with Free Math Worksheet
Another way to find problems for math football games is to use problems from traditional worksheets. Instead of printing out worksheets and handing them to students, they can do the same work and get the same practice in a much more engaging way just by playing this game. Here’s a few places to check for worksheets & problems for your game:
Math Worksheets For Kids (Not all of them are free, but they have a lot of free worksheets.)
Tips and Tricks
Students can get very competitive, so you’ll want to remind them often that this is just a game. One of the reasons I love playing games like this is because the students get to learn how to teach each other during a game. We practice sportsmanship and this can bleed over into other situations in their lives.
You can make the magnets by printing out pictures and gluing them onto vent cover sheets. Basically, it is a big sheet of magnet. I just print them out, cut around the picture, and viola I have a great game mascot. If you want some mascots you can find some here.
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Try Whiteboard Football in Your Classroom
Sometimes kids just need a novel way of practicing, and football can be a perfect way of doing that. They still focus on practicing math, but at the same time they get to have a little fun. If you’re looking for a new way to practice and review, this is a great game to add into the mix. It may not work as something you can do every day, but you can pull it out once a month as a fun review game. Or, you could even play it every day for week and make it a math football tournament. You could even have your classes battle each other. Give it a try!
Thanks so much for reading! Until next time.
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