Sometimes great ideas are born out of a moment of desperation. That’s how this target game came to be for me. We were doing some task cards on the doc cam and the students were completing them with their SmartPals. I noticed that they weren’t fully engaged with the problems and, for lack of a better phrase, they were phoning it in. I had this suction cup ball sitting on the chalk tray and then it hit me. Draw a target on the board and then have the students try to hit the target. And just like that, the target game was born. I’m going to share with you how this easy-to-play game can take any worksheet or task cards and turn them into a fun, engaging math review activity.
Sometimes students just need good old fashioned practice. I definitely believe that, but if you add something as simple as the target game, you still get the practice but you’ll also get more engagement. I have a group of Math Lab kids and we’ve been together for 2 hours a day for a year and a half. They love the target game. We don’t play it every day, but when we do they get so excited.
-a suction cup ball
-task cards or a worksheet
1st Step-Draw a target on the whiteboard. You do this by drawing concentric circles. Usually, we have 4 circles. (See the example below- it only has 3 circles, but I prefer 4)
2nd Step-Label each ring with a point value. You can label them with 1000, 500, 300, 100 or fractions or really big numbers. The kids love it when we use thousands.
3rd Step-Mark a spot on the floor for students to stand behind when they throw the ball. I use duct tape.
4th Step-Give the students a problem to complete. We use problems from tasks cards or worksheets. Each student completes their work on a SmartPal, whiteboard, or paper.
5th Step-Students show their answers and the teacher asks three questions related to the problem. The people who volunteer an answer, even if they are incorrect, get a chance at the target.
6th Step-The rest of the class chooses one of the throwers. They have to write down the name of the person they choose. They get the points from the thrower they chose.
7th Step-The three throwers get ONE chance each to hit the target. They get the points of the value of the circle they land on, and so do all of the people who wrote down their name.
8th Step-Repeat the target process over and over with each problem.
Tips and Tricks
You can have a lot of fun with the point values. You can increase them as the game goes. Also, you might want to practice adding fractions and give them fraction point values. Sometimes I draw a 1 on the board for if they hit the board and not the target. They think it’s pretty funny when they get 1 point.
Don’t worry too much about if they are becoming good at throwing at the target. I have found that none of them get very good at it. It doesn’t matter if they are on the softball team or the baseball team, they still aren’t necessarily great at this game. You’ll see that there’s a huge amount of luck involved in this game.
Some students don’t want to throw at the target, so they don’t answer questions in front of the whole class. This does happen, and that’s why we play lots of different games in our class. We play the target game once a week or once every couple of weeks. Usually, the person who doesn’t want to throw is still really into what’s happening in the game.
Try it with Task Cards
Task cards work great with the target game. All you have to do is choose the set of task cards that you want to use and place one card at a time under the doc camera. It gives a way to spice up task cards.
We use task cards as a partner activity a lot in my class and sometimes I like to do things differently. Usually, my task cards increase in difficulty, so sometimes we just do a few of the task cards with the target game and then the students complete the rest of them in partners. Here are some of our most popular task cards:
Try it with Worksheets
You can find worksheets everywhere and you probably have some that go with the curriculum that you use. I find that just giving students worksheets to complete makes them think that completion is more important than practice and learning. The great thing about worksheets and the target game is how easily they go together. Depending on the type of question, you can just put the questions under the doc camera or you can rewrite them onto a small whiteboard or piece of paper and put that under the doc cam for students to see. Then, students answer these questions and check their answers by playing the target game. Here are some go to websites I use for worksheets:
Math Worksheets For Kids (Not all of them are free, but they have a lot of free worksheets.)
Try the Target Game in your Classroom
This simple game has been a huge hit in my classroom. Implementing this activity in your classroom will help you level up your teaching game with little to no prep. Students will be engaged and you’ll be so excited to see how involved they become in their learning. Give it a try and let the fun ensue.
Thanks so much for reading! For even more ideas for gamifying math practice, check out these posts:
- Whiteboard Football
- 18 Math Review Games for Middle School Math
- Using Maze Games in the Middle School Math Classroom
If you’re looking for a great deal on a collection of middle school task cards, check out these resources for 7th & 8th grade:
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