Another math game that I discovered last year when I subbed for an Essentials tutor and friend is Battleship. It’s played very much like the classic game and it was a huge hit with the class. You go around the room and have each student choose a number between 1 and 100 to represent your “battleship” (your high number can be lower if you have fewer kids in your class). When I played this with the class last year, we just wrote each student’s number on the whiteboard and put Xs by their names when their ships were hit but I’ve created a gameboard that kids can use to make things a little easier to understand (and definitely more fun to keep up with hits to their own ship).

Battleship Gameboard from Antiquated NotionsUsing the gameboard (which has been laminated, so you can reuse them), each student writes his number on the line below the battleship: this is their battleship’s number. When another student gets that number as the answer to an equation, that ship takes a hit. Hits are represented by marking off one of the circles within the battleship and so when all 4 have been marked, the ship is sunk. The lower half of the gameboard can be used for computations, especially in keeping up with the most recent answer to their problems–it is to this number that the new number will always to added/subtracted/multiplied/divided.

This is how it works. The game starts by the tutor turning over the top card in a deck of playing cards (aces are 1; face cards can all be 10 or you can make it more challenging by having jacks be 11; queens 12; and kings 13). Each student takes the number they chose for their battleship and then adds/subtracts/multiplies/divides their battleship number by the number on the card. Example: Caleb chooses the number 37 for his battleship (the other students in his class choose the numbers 6, 79, and 96 for their battleships). The tutor turns over an 8 so Caleb decides to subtract 8 from 37 (his starting number; i.e., the number of his own battleship) to get 29. The next card turned over is 13. He then subtracts 13 from 29 (his most recent answer) and now has a total of 16. The next card is a 6. He multiplies 16 x 6 to get 96 and “hits” Liam’s battleship (Liam then puts a mark in the first circle of the battleship on his gameboard). Play goes like this with each student performing various functions to their most recent answer until they make a “hit” to another person’s ship. Keep in mind that every student does their computations at the same time. The differences are their starting numbers (because each will always be starting with his or her battleship number) and possibly what they choose to do with that number (add, subtract, multiply, or divide). After the first computation, they work from their previous answer.

Battleship gameboard

You can choose to end the game when the first ship is sunk or continue to play until only one student is left–although that’s probably not much fun for the ones who are left out. If you are short on time, you can also reduce the number of hits necessary to sink the ship.

If you flip over the gameboard, you’ll see a numbered list of variations to the classic card game, War. This game also lends itself well to Essentials math games and as you can see, there are a lot of variations. Because it’s so well known, I didn’t include the directions on the card. You don’t really need a gameboard for War–all you need is a deck of cards for each 2 players. Rather, I decided to include the directions for each variant instead, which I discovered online at this site.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the game of War, here are the official directions from the “Card Games For Dummies” website:

War is a great card game for young children. The object is to acquire all the cards, which you can do in different ways. To play War, you need the following:

  • Two players
  • A standard deck of 52 cards

Start by dealing out the deck one card at a time, face-down, so that each player gets 26 cards. Keep your cards in a pile and don’t look at them. Each player turns over one card simultaneously; whoever turns over the highest card picks up the two cards and puts them face-down at the bottom of his pile.

The cards have the normal rank from highest to lowest: ace, king, queen, jack, and then 10 through 2.

The game continues in this manner until both players turn over a card of the same rank, at which point you enter a war. A war can progress in one of three ways.

  • Each player puts a card face-down on top of the tied card and then one face-up. Whoever has the higher face-up card takes all six cards.
  • Each player puts three face-down cards on the table and one face-up card, so the competition is for ten cards. This option speeds up the game, which often drags a little — especially for children!
  • Each player puts down cards depending on the rank of the tied cards. If the equal cards are 7s, you each count off seven face-down cards before turning a card over. If the equal cards are kings, queens, or jacks, you turn down 10 cards before flipping one up and squaring off. For an ace, count out 11 face-down cards.
  • If another tie results, repeat the process until someone achieves a decisive victory.

If a player runs out of cards in the middle of a war, you have two possible solutions: You lose the war and are out of the game, or you turn your last card face up, and these count as your played card in the war.

Whoever wins the cards gathers them up and puts them at the bottom of her pile. The first person to get all the other player’s cards wins.

My plan is to divide the students into groups of 2 and let each group roll dice to determine which variant they’ll play. Depending on how much time we have, they should get to play more than 1 game. I really love some of the variants that are included, especially #8 (“Integer Addition) and #9 (“Integer Product”), both of which use black cards as positive numbers and red ones as negative. It reminds me of the mental math gymnastics that we went through over the summer at practicum! Having such a large variety of choices is great, especially for kids who aren’t as proficient in math. Everyone plays the same game, but it’s easier to target specific areas for kids to work on rather than a “one-game-fits-all” approach.

Download the gameboard here.

P.S. I learned about Battleship through a document on CC Connected so if these instructions are confusing to you, please check there for better ones!