How to make a board game

Maths board games are a great way to get children hooked and engaged with maths. I've collated a collection of board game templates which can be modified to make your own maths game board which will teach many different aspects of both KS1 and KS2 maths. The templates are all printable at either A4 or A3 size and can be printed in either black and white or colour to really get your maths students engrossed in their learning.

As you can see below, there are a variety of different themes to choose from that make maths practice fun and painless. Thanks to Tim Van De Vell for the designs.

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At the moment they're all generic and don't feature anything maths related, so here's how to fix that:

PLAY A LOT OF GAMES

Spend as much time as you can learning what others have done.

Play a lot of different games. See how the mechanics work and see what that designer has brought to that game. Take whatever lessons you think it has for you, and if you don’t see any more, move on. Don’t get hung up on playing any one game too much, as you want to build up a knowledge base.

PlushiesAndyLooney

No matter how brilliant you think you are, no matter how good you think your idea is, somebody else has done something like it. You want to see what they’ve already done and how you can make your game new and fresh and better.

PLAY TEST, PLAY TEST, PLAY TEST

Actually, I have different levels of play testing.

I guess, my very first group is me and my stuffed animals. In the very first round of play testing, I’ll be all by myself with a teddy bear as stand-in opponent; if I need more players, I’ll get a couple of different plushies and sit them around the table. Of course, I take their turn for them, and I can get a certain sense if things are working. So Level 0 testing is plushies.

PlushiesAndyLooney2

Level 1 is with my close friends, a couple of buddies who come over all the time, and with my wife. And if it doesn’t work at all, they’ll be very forgiving. Maybe I won’t show [the new game] to anybody beyond my core group. Level 2 is my broader circle of friends, people I don’t see as often, and acquaintances. Level 3 is I’ll get it to where I want to try with strangers or at least people who are less likely to give me a break.

In all these stages, I like to do trial by rule sheet, that is, where you don’t teach the game yourself, but rather you make [players] read the rules and try to figure it out from the rule sheet. Because if they can’t figure out the rule sheet, then it’s not going to work in the field. I like to make them read the rules and teach ME how to play the game.

HAVE FUN

That’s what it’s all about. If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.

Andy Looney, board games, card games, looney labs

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Pimp up your maths board

Your first job is to change the board itself. You can do this in a generic way so that it can be used to teach all aspects of maths. The way I changed the game board is by adding a question mark at random places along the board. When the children land on a question mark they pick up a card and have to answer it. You can decide what they do after this.

Here are some examples:

  • If they answer correctly, they move forward two spaces.
  • If they answer correctly, they get another roll.
  • If they get it wrong, they miss a turn next time.
  • Feel free to add your own ideas here. I'm sure you get the idea.

When you make your own maths board game, you can draw a space on the board too to show where the cards should be placed. You could have two different sets of cards. One could be a question mark and one an exclamation mark. This would be a similar way to how Chance and Community Chest are used in Monopoly. The cards could have different types of questions on them or could be used for another purpose.

Here are some examples of how this could work:

  • The question marks could be for times table questions and the exclamation marks could be for related division facts.
  • The question marks could be for basic facts and the exclamation marks could be for using and applying or maths mastery.
  • One may be for maths questions and the other could be something fun like trying to touch your nose with your tongue. Urgh! You get the idea.
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