Bowling for fluency: A game for number sense, fluency and equation development.

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT use all four operations to create and solve equations.

Big Idea

This totally awesome game hones fluency and number sense skills as students bowl for their solutions, knocking down pins and trying to get strikes or spares! They prove their answers using properly written equations to solve for numbers 1-10..

Finding Factor Pairs: Continual Practice Makes Perfect

10 minutes

I have written numbers 12-100 on note cards. To satisfy the standard of knowing how to find factor pairs 1-100, create fluency in multiplication. I am continually drilling factor pairs and weekly testing 10 random numbers, keeping track on a spreadsheet. Students need to master this each week by 80%. Those students mastering their last test at 100% did not have to participate in this activity and could play a math ap on their iPad. Most  played on Number Line, an app that helps them learn to order fractions, percents and decimals. It's very challenging.

I stood in the front of the room and flipped the cards into the air. They landed all over the place! My students thought this was great. I told them to grab a card and figure out the factor pairs that belonged to the number. They wrote them in their notebook and I checked each student helping them list them. We recalled divisibility rules. One student was listing multiples down the side of his notebook. Good strategies were going on such as listing them 1x factor, 2x factor, etc. Students tested each factor until they recognized the commutative pair or a double.

It looked like this:


1x 36


3 x12


6 x 6 (Double so I stop!)

One student had 84 and remembered that if she added the digits, and that total was divisible by three, then the number would be. However, she told me she knew 84 could be divided by three, but was stuck.

I reminded her that she knew box method of division and to use that to figure it out.



30 minutes

Whole Group Instruction

One of my concerns as I am pushing students to master word problems and write equations using variables is that they learn that they need an equation to understand how to solve the problem. Equation writing has been weak in my class. So, since there were some students who hadn't finished their division exam and they were working in another room, I decided the rest of us should take the opportunity to practice some in this weak area.

Bowling for Fluency is a game that helps student develop two things: fluency in using all four operations, and developing equations using parenthesis; associative and distributive properties.

Using the Bowling SB Template, I instructed my students, step by step on how to play this great game. I rolled three dice and we started to solve together. We rolled 2,1,& 4 Little by little I could write equations and cross off as my students hurriedly tried to solve in their notebook, raising their hands and sharing their equations/solutions. A student struggles, but gets a pin down! They were having a lot of fun. Soon, we exhausted the possibilities in our first roll. Have we got them all? Do we need to roll again? ??? shows how critical thinking is in the forefront. In order to knock down all of our pins, we had to roll twice. Eventually we got a spare. We got a strike! 

Bowling Game- Student notes. These notes show you a reflection of our development of an equation. As we solved, I wrote it on the SB file and transferred it to the whiteboard on my right. But, I also gave them examples of poorly written "equations". i.e. 4+2=6-2=4. We reviewed that equals means to balance. We discussed how to fix this type of equation with parenthesis. One of my students announced that if it was all addition, or all multiplication, it was the Associative Property. And she continued to say that she thought if it was mixed operations with parenthesis, it was the Distributive Property. This proves to me that this game helps with important connections that help students master the standard.

Next, they worked independently in partners of their choice. Each pair was given 3 dice. They were thrilled when I told them that would do this independently, but I also told them I expected a list of properly written equations to prove each solution. They could work each equation in their math notebook. I roved the room, making sure each student understood and could solve their equations. Math Practice Standards 6 and 8 are being practiced with this activity because students are attending to precision and using repeated reasoning as they create their equations.

We worked thirty minutes and students did between four and five rounds.



Tournament! A quick assessment.

20 minutes

I stopped everyone and told them that we were going to do a tournament round. I had them roll at the same time and start their round together. The person to finish on the least amount of rolls was the winner. They feverishly worked. I reminded them that equations must be written correctly or they would be disqualified.

After 20 minutes, I stopped everyone and checked work. Only one student wasn't quite finished. But, if I didn't stop, that student could have worked for another hour. Her equations were incorrect and she is struggling. The least amount of rolls were three this time. I had two students tie. Their equations were beautifully done. I had to disqualify two students for linear equations that looked like this: 3 +4=7+3 =10. Please see my reflection for comments on this issue.

They loved this! My winning students received a choice from my candy jar, or a free 15 minute coupon for iPad use, free ice cream, or a homework call pass. I run small coupons for specific little prizes like this. One coupon is to sit in my chair all day!