Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School
Description: It can often be difficult to find highly motivating math games, especially for older students, which is why I am so excited about Front Runner. This is easily one of the best math games I’ve found! The game is designed to practice skills related to order of operations and identifying factors, but it incorporates a variety of other math skills as well.
The game also sets up opportunity for silliness in a way that I did not initially expect when I opened up the game. One of my students pretended to be the announcer for a horse race throughout the game. Another used a huge number of puns and idioms in relation to the game. It was fantastic to see language skills emerge through the math game, and allow for opportunities to engage with peers in a different way.
Skills & Modifications: There are several modifications you can make to this game. The one I implemented the most frequently was using different cards with my students (as pictured below.) This allowed me to introduce the game with students who were not yet ready to do Order of Operations, but did allow them access to this highly-motivating game.
For students that are ready to play the game as designed, I may wait to introduce the Second Wind and Nose Ahead cards until they’ve mastered the basics.
Order of Operations – Front Runner is specifically designed to practice skills associated with Order of Operations. When it’s your turn you draw a card such as the one below, then roll the three dice. You fill in then numbers you rolled in the spaces on the card, then solve the problem using Order of Operations. When you arrive at your answer, you identify the factors for the solution, and move the horses that match those factors. This is quite a long process for many of my students with autism, which is why I frequently modify the game as described above. However, with students who excel in math or can follow multiple steps, this is an excellent game.
Addition/Subtraction/Multiplication/Division – Because this is a game for Order of Operations, you naturally practice all of the skills associated with number operations.
Factors – I love that this game practices identifying factors in such an effective way. My students began to identify patterns and recognize the frequency of certain factors through playing the game and seeing how the board was set up.
Prime Numbers – When my students realized they couldn’t move a horse, it helped them more quickly identify prime numbers. It helped them relate to prime numbers in a way that most math lessons do not.
Pros: This is a must-have game for anyone teaching math. It’s well-designed, has high-quality materials, and is easy for kids to understand. Also, as I’ve written about before, SimplyFun does great work in making games accessible to learners with autism. You can see what they’ve put together for Front Runner here. I also love that the company identifies strengths of learners with autism as a way to find the best games for those learners.
Cons: No cons for this game. All around, it’s fantastic!
Front Runner was provided to me for free by the company SimplyFun to write about here. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.