The Different Ways We Play Integer War

One group of students playing Integer War with the "Dice in Dice". Usually they are in groups of two, but it was an odd numbered class.

Integer War is probably the most common game to review integers. The concept is exactly like the card game of War. I have the students grouped in pairs. They each have a piece of paper that they draw a line down the center and place their name on one side and their partner’s name on the other side of the line. They get their two numbers in the fashion that I explain below. They either add, subtract, or multiply (depending on the operation we are working on) those two numbers. Each player works both problems each “round” and they check their answers with each other. The player with the larger value wins that round and they put a star next to the number. This gives students several problems of solving the integer problem as well as practicing “comparing integers” as well.  In order for the students to play the game several times without actually getting bored with it, I find different ways to come up with the numbers. Here are some of what we’ve done this year………

One way that we get numbers is by using a deck of cards. I have the students remove the jokers. The cards are all dealt out. Each student flips over two cards. The student adds, subtracts, or multiplies (whichever operation you are reviewing) those numbers. The person with the highest value wins that round. Here are a list of the values for the cards……

red = negative

black = positive

Jack = 10

Queen = 11

King = 12

Ace = 1

Another way that we used to get the numbers for the problems was to use 30-sided dice. I give each student a 30-sided dice. This year is the first time I used them, and I gave them each a different color and told them to choose one color as the negative and one color as the positive. This limited the types of problems they did. Next time I do this activity, I will give them a two color counter that they must flip as well as the roll the dice. The yellow side of the counter is positive and the red side of the counter is negative. With the 30-sided dice, this gives a larger variety of numbers the students are able to work with. I love, love, love the 30-sided dice. I will be buying other types of dice in the near future (next payday).

Another way I used to come up with numbers was with “dice in dice”. Yes, that is exactly what they are…..a dice with a dice inside. I also recently noticed that there are polyhedral dice in dice as well. I will be purchasing those. With these dice, I gave each student a dice and a two color counter. I told them that the inside dice was always going to be negative and they were to flip the two color counter in order to determine the sign on the outside dice. I did this to save time on the whole flipping thing. You could have them flip the counter twice, once for the inside dice and once for the outside dice. Whichever you prefer.

The last way that we play Integer War is with cards that I found out of my “The Middle School Mathematician” book. If you look in my “Resources” section, I give a review on this book.  I always use these cards for reviewing “division of integers” for sure. I do this because in sixth grade, we are just introducing operations with integers and I want nice even numbers. I suppose you could do any of the above mentioned methods and give them a calculator, but I find these cards work much easier. It is played exactly like ”War” with the deck of cards, only they give you two numbers on each card so they only flip one card over at a time.

This is not “Integer War”, but it’s a great way to review adding or subtracting integers as well as ordering integers. It’s called “What a Hand”. I got it out of my “The Middle School Mathematician” book. The actual hands out of the book have no numbers on them, I wrote those on each finger myself so these hands could be used for many different activities. You give each student a “hand”. They are to add or subtract (which ever you prefer) all of the numbers on the hand and then they are to all order themselves fron least to greatest in the front of the room. It’s a fairly quick activitiy that the kids always enjoy.

These were just a few ways that you could play “Integer War”. Use your imagination for other ways. The kids LOVE playing these games, and you can get them to do a ton of problems without a single complaint. It is truly amazing to listen to the kids argue over what the answers are.  Have fun!!

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