Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Board Races for practicing Math

Hi everyone. It's Anita Goodwin, Second Grade Teacher here blogging to you from

Do you need a "Super Simple" time filler to practice addition and subtraction? I have been doing
Board Races for years in my classroom.  My students love it and even beg to do Board Races.

One of the big math skills for us in Second Grade is addition and subtraction with and without regrouping. Board Races make learning math fun and engaging. Students hardly even know they are practicing or learning while doing it. Board Races can be adapted to use in other grades too.



What are Board Races?
Board Races are just what they sound like, races at the board. They involve the whole class and have 100 percent engagement. Board Races work best for about 15 minutes or less. It is a quick moving activity. As soon as a group of students get done racing at the board the next group of students head to the board for the next race. I think the students like it because it is not only competition but an up and down moving to the board activity.



What you need: All you need is a class set of whiteboards, markers, erasers, and a whiteboard or chalkboard in your classroom. Sometimes we even write on our desks with our dry erase markers and it comes right off. (You might want to test in a small spot to make sure this works on your student desks.)  I got my white boards made the first year I was in the classroom about 20 years ago. I went to the local hardware store and had them cut a sheet of shower board into sections. I also had them round the corners which cost a little more but makes them a little nicer. I have never replaced them in all the years I have been teaching. It has been one of the best and most used investments I have made. My students bring their own dry erase markers to school. (It is on our supply list.) They also bring an old sock to use an eraser.


How to Play:
1. Divide the class into groups of 5 and have 4 teams. (My students' desks are in groups and each desk group is a team.) Write teams on the class white board or chalkboard. Team #1, Team #2, Team #3, Team #4 and draw a line under each. This is where students will record their points for their team. (You can adapt groups to your class size.)

2. Send one student from the each group to the board. Give a math problem to the class. Students at the board are racing to see who gets the problem done first. Students at their seat must also be writing the problem and the answer on their whiteboard or their team can lose points if they are not participating. 

3. The first student that turns around at the board with the correct answer gets 2 points. If students tie with another student they each get 2 points. Everyone else at the board with the correct answer gets 1 point. Once they are turned around they may not turn back around and change anything on the board. If a student is taking an extra long time to get the answer “Times Up” is called and points are given for whoever is done so far. Students make tally marks under the team name to keep track of the score. 

4. At the end of the game count the tally marks together as a class to see who wins.

How this helps my instruction: 
While students are at the board I can jot down names of some who are having extra trouble and then I can stand close to their desk and help them a little while the other races are going on at the board. I can also work extra with them in a small group later. 

At first when students are learning about addition and subtraction without regrouping and we do Board Races I “BUZZ” the kids. Just say the word “BUZZ” when they are starting on the wrong side (left side) of the math problem. I want to get them used to always starting on the right hand side of the problem. If they are “Buzzed” they don’t get any points.


I always have Board Races in my sub plans because it's easy for them to understand and  it's a great time filler if they need it.  I type up the directions above and attach some math problem sheets with answers and leave them in my sub folder.




Other Board Races Tips:
Have math problems with answers on a paper so you can quick check students around the room and at the board to see who is struggling. You could use workbook pages with answer keys that come with your math series. You could also use student worksheets. If you don't have anything like that just print off some worksheets and answer them yourself, so you have the answers ready for quick reference.

Sometimes I use Board Races in my class when others are out of the room to get extra math instruction. Other times I do it was a warm up to start our math lesson or to end our math lesson, if we have some extra time.

It is great to use every week to review addition and subtraction with and without regrouping after you move onto other topics in math.  (or after a long break from school like Christmas Vacation.)

Another fun thing I have done is invite another class over to compete with Board Races. You can mix groups so that both classes are in the groups and competing against each other. The students love this. 

If you don’t have whiteboard sets for your class you would use iPads, if you are 1:1, with an app like Educreations or another whiteboard app. You could also use paper and pencil for those practicing at their seat.

While racing it’s nice to skip a student in one group and go to the next student every now and then so they are racing against different student groups and not always the same students. 


What if I don't teach Second Grade? You could adapt the concept of board races to other math concepts that you do in your grade. You could use multiplication and division for upper grades or maybe just simple one digit math problems for K-1.



You do not need this packet to do Board Races but I made it to help me out in my classroom with Board Races. It has a nice section to leave in my Sub Folder as a time filler if they happen to need one.

 It has 192 problems with addition and subtraction with and without regrouping. It has 8 pages with 24 questions on each page:

-1 page on addition without regrouping
-1 page on subtraction without regrouping
-2 pages on addition with regrouping
-2 pages on subtraction with regrouping
-1 page of mixed addition with and without regrouping
-1 page mixed subtraction with and without regrouping
-all pages include answer keys which will be used for board races.

I don't really like to do worksheets but the pages without answers could be used as assessments if you need to check to make sure your students are understanding what they have learned. If you want to check it out click HERE to go to my TPT store.

So there you have it: "Super Simple" math practice. I would love to know if you try Board Races and how your students like it.  Feel free to comment below and let me know how it goes.




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