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April 14, 2021

Smarter than a 5th Grader - Math Review

For a while when my own boys were younger we would watch the Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader show as a family. We like those kinds of knowledge shows. Then when I moved to 5th grade, it was a perfect fit to review everything for math. I even found the actual board game in a thrift store and was able to grab the logo to give some official decoration to my classroom. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make it feel magical. Grabbing a logo from a Google search, and projecting it on the white board, and the kids feel extra excitement. 

In a normal year the kids work in teams to create the project. It’s a whole thing, they have to brainstorm a game board - using large poster board. The game boards, game pieces, and corresponding question cards/answer key then are displayed during Open House. Kids quiz their parents, they drag their friends in to play their games, it’s a big deal. They love it!! 

This year I still want kids to have that experience, but I’m giving them the option to go digital, or keep it as a hard copy. All independent. Either way, I get to see their finished product. Of course I want to see their game board, but I’m really looking at their questions and answer key. :)

Here’s how they start. Before any game board is created they have to create questions in specific categories. (Just like the real game show.) Since it’s all math related, they have to come up with 5 problems in each category. 

#1-5 Place Value
#6-10 Order of Operations
#11-15 Multiplication
#16-20 Division
#21-25 Decimals
#26-30 Fractions
#31-35 Graphing
#36-40 Volume

Now they are welcome to use their math book as inspiration, but we always have the deal that they have to come up with their own problems. Word problems being at least 1 of the questions in each category since they are tricky. Usually I give them 40 index cards, and they label the cards with the specific question number and category. This year I’m thinking of just having them stick it all in a PowerPoint.

But what good are questions if they don’t have an answer key for our guests to check their answers? So an answer key must be tucked into a file folder near the board game when the games are played. The file folder also helps to contain all the little pieces once everything is complete.

So creating 40 questions, creating an answer key (and checking their answers to make sure they are correct), and then finally the teams can work together to make a game board. 

I give them a lot of choices. They can do something like Chutes and Ladders, they can do something like Monopoly, they can create something totally new. They need game pieces, they can borrow dice, a sand timer, play money, or even a bell, etc. It’s a way to have fun and review. They must test out the game to make sure it makes sense. They must have directions clearly on the game. 

When everyone is done, we then move into the playing phase. One member of the team stays at their game to explain the rules, while the other members switch around to play the other games. We play the games the following weeks until the last week of school. 

This year, the kids will be creating their games over the 2 weeks before the state math test. They have to turn the different parts in for their daily math independent work. We will also be doing more review in those final few days together, but this game is the bulk of their review.  

Hope this helps,

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