Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Easy Decimal Game: This Means War!

Right before our February vacation, my fourth graders started decimals.  To start out, I always find it's easiest to equate decimals with money.  .50 is 5 tenths just as it's 5 dimes, and .05 is 5 hundredths just as it's 5 pennies.  They understand that; it's those pesky zeroes that throw them for a loop!  So to practice seeing decimals concretely (and relating them to fractions) we played Decimal War!

The game is easy if you have decimal cards.  Notice that in fourth grade we use units that are divided into tenths and hundredths (there are also thousandths in this set which are great for kids who like a challenge).

The basic directions for Decimal War are:
  1. Shuffle the cards. 
  2. Deal the cards so that each person has the same number of cards.  Note:  the number of red and green cards each person has does not matter.
  3. Players should NOT look at their cards.  
  4. Both players flip over their top card at the same time.
  5. Determine who has the most shaded area.  That person wins both cards.
  6. In the event of a tie, both players will place their next 3 cards face down, and choose 1 of those to simultaneously flip over.  The winner takes all 8 cards.
  7. The object of the game is to finish with the most cards.
In this regard, the game is just like the traditional card game of War.  But now comes the math part!

Each player needs to create a T chart with their names at the top.  They write the card they flipped over in decimal form.  Finally, they need to write < > or = in the center to compare who had the greater amount.

This type of War Card Game is easily adapted to fractions, negative numbers, numbers of varying place values, coins, or anywhere that comparing or ordering numbers enters into your curriculum.  I love when I can reuse a format and save time teaching new directions (if the particular class loves it).

[Update: 3/16, I had a request through TPT's Q&A to make this a product.  If you would like a version that includes the cards and is ready to print, I have it for $4 here:  Decimal War Card Game]

If you're looking for more fun math games (or other resources) for your kiddos, you should know that Teachers Pay Teachers is having one of their HUGE sales this Thursday and Friday (2/27-2/28).  You can save up to 28% in most stores with promo code TPT3.  To help celebrate right here at All Things Upper Elementary, we're giving away TWO $25 gift certificates for TPT.  Just click the graphic below so you can enter.  That $25 will go a lot further this week, so don't miss out!   


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