Math can seem like a daunting subject for most people, just the mere mention of which can send shivers down people’s spines. This has given rise to the issue of math anxiety, too.
But, this fear can also be a great unifier, bringing different people together as a team in their quest to crack this hard but called math.
This ability possessed by math, like no other subject, is what is highlighted in this blog which enlists various math games and activities that can help with team building.
Building math skills along with team-building
Math can be a scary subject but when taught in the form of games that students play with each other and against each other, it can become incredibly fun. Here is a list of a few such math games and activities that help with team building:
1. Shape of you
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare cards with various pictures of various objects like fruits, office supplies, sports equipment, etc. The students would also need a blackboard, a whiteboard, or a smartboard to draw on.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. Two students, one from each team will go up and pick one of the cards at random. Their task will then be to explain the object they see to their team in terms of the various shapes that have gone into making the object. Both teams will get onto the boards and draw as dictated by their team member. The first team to correctly guess what the object is will get the point. The team with the highest points at the end will win.
This game will have everyone in the team working together and listening closely to their member’s details and the shapes they are describing. The competition part will help in building cohesiveness.
2. Puzzle Mania
For this game, the educator just needs to prepare a set of math questions appropriate for the class level and display them on a screen or board.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. Each member of both teams will go one by one and solve the puzzle presented on the board. They will be allowed to consult their team a maximum of 3 times in case they are not able to solve the question on their own. The team’s job would be to make the clue as informative and helpful as possible for their members. The team that solves the highest number of puzzles in under 1 minute given to solve each puzzle will be declared the winner.
For understanding where their team member is stuck and make the limited number of clues under a limited amount of time count, the team will need to work together and communicate really well under a high-stakes situation.
3. Treasure Hunt
For constructing the treasure hunt, the educator would need several mathematical word problems that can sound like riddles that when solved point the team in the direction of the next clue. The educator will also need a prize that will serve as the treasure.
The students will be divided into teams of 5 students each. Their work will be to solve each riddle as fast as they can so that they can get to the treasure before their peers.
This game requires all the players to work together, against other teams as well as the clock. Cooperation among members is one of the most important tasks of building a team.
4. Become it
For this activity, the educator will have to write a series of complex mathematical equations like (4x+5)2 – (2y-7)3 = 14 on several chits and mix them up in a bowl.
The students will be divided into 2 teams of equal students each. One of the members from a team will go up, pick a chit, and then will have to physically represent the equation to their team members. They can use their hands to represent the numbers, arms to represent the bracket, the plus sign, the minus sign, the “raised to” power sign, etc. Without speaking, their task would be to have their team correctly guess the equation in under 45 seconds. 1 point will be awarded every time a team gets the equation right. In the end, the team with the highest points will win.
This game also requires the members to work hard because of their loyalty to their team and go to extreme physical lengths in a short amount of time to help their team guess the equation. This game will bring the team together like no other.
5. Buzz for it
For this activity, the educator will need to prepare several questions related to general math trivia and five to six buzzers.
The class will be divided into 5 to 6 teams with an equal number of students in each. The task of the students here will be to see the question on the board which will be something like “who gave the theorem that says that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides?”. The team who knows the correct answer, that is Pythagoras, will buzz as fast as they can and answer. If they don’t get the answer right, the opportunity to answer will be passed on to whoever buzzed second. Whichever team gets the most amount of answers right will win the trivia contest.
This game also requires the team members to put their minds together to further the interest of their team. Their wins and losses are all together which is extremely helpful in breaking the ice and building a strong, long-lasting team.
6. Guess who
For this activity, the educator will need empty cards with the space to write 5 points on them and a bowl.
The task of the students here will be to take one card each and write 5 math facts about themselves. This could include their favorite math topic, the one topic they have the most trouble with, some concept their friend helped them with, the professor who made math fun for them, their first math teacher, etc. These chits full of facts will have no name written on them. They will be folded up and put together in a bowl. The students will randomly go one by one, pick a chit and guess who it is.
Since the entire class will have to work as a team, helping and encouraging each other during the academic year, this game will be helpful in breaking the ice between the members and starting the team building on a positive note.
7. It doesn’t add up
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare chits with random numbers written on them. Once prepared, the educator will have to place one chit under the seat of each student.
The task of the students here will be to pick the number under their seat, come together in a team and arrange the numbers they all have in such a way that the sum of each column is 10 and the product of each row is a multiple of two. The educator will have to devise teams of 8 students in such a way that it is possible to arrange the numbers they have been assigned like the task requires.
This task requires the team to come together, work together and cooperate because even one missing number and the whole arrangement falls apart.
8. Roll two dice
For this game, the educator simply needs two regular numbered dice.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. One member of a team will randomly go up and roll the dice. The other team will challenge them to then find either the sum or the product of the numbers that show up written on any of their classroom objects in under 45 seconds. The object on which the team needs to find the written number could be a page number on a book, the time on the clock, the date on the calendar, the number on someone’s jersey or sports jacket, etc. No object can be used more than once. The team that finds the largest amount of numbers will win.
The race will be against time and the other team. This will help the team in uniting towards their shared cause of winning together and helping each other in the process.
9. The Ultimate Challenge
For this game, the educator only needs to arrange a blackboard, a whiteboard, or a smart board, basically anything that can be used by students to write in front of everyone.
For the game, the students will be divided into pairs. This two people team will come up with as difficult equations as they can together. Then they can randomly challenge any team to solve the equation. No team can be challenged twice in a row. Whenever a team is unable to solve a challenge, the point goes to the challengers who then have to solve the equation in front of the class. In the end, the team or teams with the highest score will win.
This game will require the pairs to work together in making and cracking the equations. This will not only help with team building but will also exercise their math skills.
10. Silent Tower
For this game, the educator needs to arrange small individual whiteboards for each student in the class.
The class will be divided into teams of 8 students who will then be handed their individual whiteboards. The teammates cannot talk to each other, they can just write the degree of angles on the board to communicate which angle and place their teammate should take according to them. The task of the team will be to come up with a way to make a human tower by having various people stand in different positions and assume different angles with their bodies. The team with the highest tower will win.
This game will require a working knowledge of angles and putting it to the application while team members support each other literally on their shoulders to get the tower to be as tall as possible.
Math can be a scary subject, something a lot of students struggle with. But no fear is so big that it cannot be conquered, especially when you’re not doing it alone.
Building a team using math games and activities can help in breaking the initial ice, facilitate communication and even form bonds and build a sense of unity and cohesiveness. Some games and activities that can facilitate the same are the shape of you, puzzle mania, treasure hunt, become it, the buzz for it, guess who, it doesn’t add up, the roll of two dice, the ultimate challenge, silent tower, and so on.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,