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Let The Games Begin!

December 14, 2020 | Cindy Kuperus

Recently, Mr. Martino and I were preparing materials for Unit 3 of the third grade math Investigations program. We remarked at how many materials were needed for this unit called, “Travel Stories and Collections: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System.”

In this unit, students will add 2-digit numbers to 100, add and subtract numbers up to 400, and learn about place value, including rounding numbers to the nearest hundred and thousand.

There are five games that guide children in practicing computation and place value in this unit. Students play “Go Collecting”, which is like “Go Fish.” When students have a match, they must find how many hundreds would be in the final equation. That is their score for the round, and the first one to 20 points wins!

As an example, in the equation 248+255, a student must see that the 48 and 55 add to another hundred, making their score for that round five. They write their scores on a recording sheet, as the students in the photo below are doing.

Another game is called Close to 100. A student draws six “digit” cards from a pile. He or she must determine how to use four of those cards to make an equation that is closest to 100. If, out of a set of six cards, a student chooses 85+16, his or her score for that round is one because 101 is one away from 100.

So why play games at all? Isn’t that just frivolous? The research says the opposite.  Here are just three reasons written by a blogger for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Games give students opportunities to explore fundamental number concepts…such as computation strategies.

  • Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepening their understanding of numbers.
  • Games present opportunities for practice without the need for the teacher to provide the problems.
  • Games have the potential to allow students to develop familiarity with the number system and with “benchmark numbers” (such as 10s, 100s, and 1000s) and engage in computation practice.

by Kitty Rutherford, April 2015, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

So…Let the games begin!



Cindy Kuperus

Teacher, Grade 3 Mountains Class

Ms. Kuperus attended a small Lutheran grade school and has always been a student in multi-grade classrooms. She became interested in teaching, in fact, when she would assist classmates when the teacher was busy helping others. Her 5th/6th grade teacher, Mrs. Roman, encouraged her to think broadly about the world beyond their small town (population: 500), giving stickers to those who could answer a question from the World News segment from television the night before. She would be thrilled to learn that Ms. Kuperus has taught internationally in Masaya, Nicaragua, and Chengdu,China.

After graduating from Calvin College, Ms. Kuperus taught students in grades two-six for almost 10 years in Kentwood, Michigan. In 1994, Ms. Kuperus sought a teaching position in a school in the Northeast, anywhere but New Jersey. She’s now taught for over 23 years in NEW JERSEY! Two of her former students, Becca Brasser and Sam Martino, are now on staff at MSS.

Ms. Kuperus loves opportunities to travel, interact with the people, and taste the foods of the world. She’s also a person who ‘travels” with the characters in the books she reads!

It’s important to Ms. Kuperus that people’s voices are heard and that their needs for shelter and food are met. To that end, she volunteers for organizations like First Friends and the Sharing Place.

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