Teach Through Games: Number Ninjas!

Teach Through Games: Number Ninjas!

Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description: Number Ninjas is a fantastic math game that gets kids practicing operational skills in their quest to collect four items and race to the Golden Dragon. There are two levels of play (Ninja Recruit and Ninja Master) and individuals of both levels can play simultaneously, making this a great game for family game night or differentiated activities in the classroom.

Perhaps my favorite part of this game is that it is a combination of solving simple operations (as a player must do each time they roll the dice to determine how many spaces they’ll move in that turn) and solving word problems (as they must do when the land on a Ninja Challenge.) Motivation is increased for the word problems as the player has an opportunity to earn a Quest item if they respond correctly.

The red dice are for Ninja Recruits, while the blue dice are for Ninja Masters. I love that this game offers so much math practice and opportunity for differentiation!

The red dice are for Ninja Recruits, while the blue dice are for Ninja Masters. I love that this game offers so much math practice and opportunity for differentiation!

Skills & Modifications: There are a few modifications I introduce when playing this game with learners with autism or other developmental disabilities. First, I sometimes reduce the number of Quest items to decrease the length of the game. Second, on occasion I create my own word problems based on student skill level. Finally, with young learners, I have foregone the word problems cards altogehter when first introducing the game, making it a simpler dice game. When a player lands on a Quest item, they automatically get to collect it.

Addition/Subtraction/Multiplication – Each time the player rolls they dice, they have to complete basic operations (addition or subtraction if playing as a Ninja Recruit, and addition, subtraction, or multiplication if playing as a Ninja Master.)

Many math concepts – The Ninja Challenge cards include word problems that require the above operations as well as division, counting money, telling time and understanding the passage of time, converting units of measurement, identifying number patterns, and more. When playing this with students, I’ll “stack the deck” and only include cards with word problems associated with current or recently mastered goals to give them individualized practice in the areas they need.

Flexibility – On occasion, a player may be blocked from attaining a Quest item because someone has put a trap in their way. This is an opportunity for learners who struggle with flexibility to plan a different method for attaining the Quest item.

Oh no! Someone set a trap and you can't get to your Quest Item! You'll have to backtrack to remove the trap.

Oh no! Someone set a trap and you can’t get to your Quest Item! You’ll have to backtrack to remove the trap.

Peer Play/Taking Turns – This game is great for peer play if you have a learner who is strong with numbers, because it provides opportunities for players to help one another. Many times one learner will volunteer to help another, and I appreciate any game in which my learner with autism can take the lead and be the helper.

Accepting Mistakes/Errors – I appreciate that Number Ninjas offers many opportunities for players to correct mistakes. If a player calculates an operation incorrectly after rolling the dice, they can correct the mistake immediately and still move their Ninja Pawn across the board. And if a player incorrectly responds to the word problem on the Ninja Challenge Card, they get to try again on their next turn. This offers multiple chances for learners to quickly accept, then correct mistakes.

Pros: The theme of the game is great, and highly motivating for many of my students. I also love how much math practice each player gets during the course of the game! Overall, it’s very well-designed and fun for students.

Cons: I don’t have any cons for this game. It’s a great addition to my game collection and one I play often with students!

numberninjasCost: $19.99 You should invest in this game if: you are seeking fun math games for elementary level children, you have a learner who is highly motivated by numbers, or you are looking for an educational game that can be played by children of different skill levels.

ABLLS: K15, R10, R33, R34, R35, R36, R37, R38, R39, R40, R41, R42

VB-MAPP: N/A

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