What Are Integer Games?

C. Mitchell

Integer games are interactive ways for students to practice and master basic mathematical operations with whole numbers. Games typically center on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, with problems as complex as students are advanced. Most of the time, math problems are hidden in the form of questions. There are many different types of integer games, but all are meant to merge learning and essential skills with the outer shroud of a fun activity.

Integer games may require use of pen and paper.
Integer games may require use of pen and paper.

In math, integers are all whole numbers, including zero and negative numbers. Fractions, percentages, and decimals, which are rational numbers, do not qualify. Most integer games are accordingly geared towards basic operational math skills. How numbers interact with each other in addition problems, for instance, form the basis of the most simple integer games. More challenging games integrate negative numbers, multiplication, and division.

Integers are all natural numbers, including, zero, negatives and positives.
Integers are all natural numbers, including, zero, negatives and positives.

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Elementary and middle school students are the main targets of most integer games. Games can be played in the classroom, in small peer groups, or alone. Some games are designed for pen and paper or memory. Others are computer or Internet-based, but all are designed to provide interactive integer practice opportunities.

Integer games allow kids to practice basic math equations.
Integer games allow kids to practice basic math equations.

Many classroom integer games are presented as trivia challenges. Students are often divided into teams and asked to answer challenge questions about basic operational principles. A simple question might ask, “What is the sum of 3 and 5?” More advanced students might be asked to divide numbers, or multiply negative integers. The rules will necessarily vary based on the specific game, but teams will generally score points for correct answers and lose them when incorrect.

Interactive integer games help students master mathematical operations with whole numbers.
Interactive integer games help students master mathematical operations with whole numbers.

Other integer games are based on paper responses to problems. Learning games like “integer bingo” are one example. In this type of game, children receive bingo-type boards with integers listed in rows and columns. A leader will read out mathematics equations and children must mark off the solutions on their boards. The first child to sequentially connect a row — based largely on chance — will win.

There are also a host of individual integer games, many of which are computer-based. Educational software programs challenge students to answer basic problems or solve operations in order to win points, which can be translated into game advancement, tokens, or other virtual rewards. Many of these games are structured in such a way that correct answers earn students the chance to play more enjoyable arcade-style games, while others incorporate equations and problems into such games from the outset.

Games are often closely linked to integer tutorials. Tutorials are essentially teaching and learning sessions that equip children to know how to answer challenge questions. Many computer-based games are set up so that players who earn low scores must complete online tutorials before advancing. Review tutorials usually go over the basics, reinforcing essential arithmetic rules.

Elementary and middle school students are the main targets of most integer games.
Elementary and middle school students are the main targets of most integer games.

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Discussion Comments

Markerrag

@Vincenzo -- One of the greatest things to hit the "let's make math fun" scene has been electronics. There were handheld games in the 1970s aimed at teaching kids math and those were popular. Video games were also popular and have been in use since consoles showed up in the 1970s, too.

And let's not forget what a boon computers have been to educators dealing with the challenge of making a disliked subject something that kids will embrace. The early days of computers were filled with educational programs and that hasn't changed a bit over the years.

Vincenzo

Disguising math as a game is a brilliant idea because, well, most kids hate math. For years, educators have tried to figure out how to make it fun so kids could sneakily be taught the fundamentals of it without balking too much.

Some educators have been more successful than others over the years and the struggle to make math palatable continues.

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