Games and Math Fluency

By: Mitzi Helms

Webinar: Martin Esterman: Games, Math Fluency and Award Winning Ways

This webinar was very interesting because the presenter introduced the viewers to several games to build math fluency and address the Common Core at the same time. I agree with Esterman when he states that we, as teachers, should be building better math students versus teaching to the test. I also liked that he shared some of his game making links so that his viewers can build games specific to their classroom needs. The sites he shared seem very user-friendly. I believe the Minute Math and some of the other Game Up options will allow differentiation and learning with immediate feedback so I’m not always responsible for tracking their progress. In my opinion, the webinar was slow-paced, but I imagine some viewers need to take the webinar one step at a time.

Martin Esterman, the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge winner, created Addition Blocks to build math fluency.

About Addition Blocks Game

Addition Blocks is a fast-paced, addictive game to increase addition speed and accuracy. Addition Blocks features multiple speed and difficulty settings, award system, unlockable special blocks, and hidden levels.

Check out these math fluency games!

Kakuro Cross Sums is a fun game that reminds me of Sudoku in its formatting. In these puzzles, the student is filling the white squares with digits 1 through 9 so that they add up to the sums shown in the dark squares. A dark square will show one or two sums, separated by a diagonal line. A sum that is above the diagonal is the total of the row of white squares to its right. A sum that is below the diagonal is the total of the column of white squares beneath it. There are two important rules: 1) There are no zeroes. and 2) A digit can appear only once within a sum. This is a tricky game that was mentioned in the webinar. I wouldn't recommend it for younger students.

Math Facts Pro is a math fact practice activity that students should use daily to increase math fluency. Of course, fluency with the basic math facts is as important to higher math as phonics is to reading. Students above 3rd grade who are not fluent tend to fall further and further behind. One of the benefits of this activity is that the teacher can quickly learn which facts students are/are not fluent in, and then target instruction to fix the problem.

Cool Math Games is a wonderful math game site that is the most popular educational game site in the United States. My students beg to play these games! This site has great business simulation games as well as excellent games for classes to play together--maybe on a SMARTboard. They also don't have a "high-score" function on any of their games so students are competing against their own high score or against classmates. has a variety of video games and other instructional tools that don’t seem like teaching tools at all. Instead of forcing your students to sit still and focus on black and white, two-dimensional series of numbers; you can introduce them to a fun world of entertainment that will give them the fundamental tools they need to succeed in school and adulthood. These days, children want to play computer games. Instead of fighting this insatiable desire, why not embrace it?

Web Math Minute is an interactive way to practice math facts. Students can easily see which facts they need to practice. If teachers implemented this activity into their math stations, I am sure teachers and students would see a significant increase in math fluency. It's quick and easy, and the kids are learning at the same time!