Trig Memory Game

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SWBAT participate in a memory game that asks them to match trigonometric functions with various amplitudes, periods, and shifts to corresponding equations.

Big Idea

Students participate in a memory style game that stretches not only their mind, but also their knowledge of trig functions.

Explaining the Game

5 minutes

Today's lesson takes on a peer-to-peer, non traditional feel.  The students work forward and challenge each other at their own pace. I like to allow for a whole 45 period to do this memory matching game because I feel that they students really get a lot out of it.  If your period is longer than 45 minutes, however, I would recommend supplementing the activity with something else. 

Through playing this memory-style matching game: 

  • Proficient students will be able to fine-tune their skills in a fun, competitive environment.  They will also be able to create their own version of the game, which will involve several of the math practice standards along with a healthy dose of critical thinking. (MP3)
  • Students who need the additional support will be able to receive help from the teacher and others in a non-intimidating environment. 

After playing the game two times, students will then create their version of the game complete with equations and their corresponding graphs. 


The memory cards are attached as a resource in the "Memory Game" section of this lesson plan.  If you plan to use these cards over multiple years, I suggest printing them cardstock.  This also prevents the students from seeing through the paper and cheating!

Dividing the Class

5 minutes


As I explain in the video I use cards when I feel it is important to differentiate the student groups. Prior to the students entering the classroom, I take time to sort a deck of cards into face-cards and numeric cards.  As the students begin to file in, I plan to give the students who I deem proficient a face card, and the students who are not proficient a numeric card.  The students for these two groups will vary by class, and is based on my informal observations.


Memory Game

30 minutes

If you are unfamiliar with the game of memory, or concentration, it involves flipping over cards two at a time and trying to find matches.  In this particular "math version" of the game, students work to match a graph to its equation.  The nature of this game forces the students to recognize and remember key features of the graph, as well as where the particular cards are placed.  In the backs of the students minds, they will be making deep connections to the content - particularly the moving and shifting of trigonometric functions.  See more in the attached video narrative.

An excellent "second version" of the game can be played by having the students create their own cards.  I usually have these blank cards pre-cut and ask the students to start this process after playing the game with my teacher-created cards 3 times.  Several groups of students should be able to accomplish this in a 45 minute class period.

What if we don't finish?

5 minutes

As the period draws to a close, I provide envelopes to students to put the memory cards that they are creating in, even if they are not finished.  I keep these envelopes in my podium over the next several weeks in case students complete an in-class activity or assignment early.  Aside from a self-running differentiation strategy, this memory game is something that high-achieving students actually like to participate in.  For students that need remediation, this activity is also great practice.  I even send packs of the memory cards to the math lab classes, where our students receive additional math support and tutoring.  The lab teachers always appreciate these hands on activities for their Algebra II students!