Target Number Game

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SWBAT apply order of operations to create number sentences to reach a target number.

Big Idea

Playing a game for the order of operations engages students in math fact review and builds fluency.


10 minutes

During the warm-up section in this lesson, I review the order of operations by using the same number sentence and moving parentheses to different numbers.  This allows students to see how the answer changes based on the location of the parentheses within the number sentence. 

For example: 

(3 + 5) x 2 - 4 = 12  compared to 3 + (5 x 2) - 4 = 9

I start with using two operations to compare, followed by three and then four operations.   

Rules Of The Game

10 minutes

Our practice with this concept, and math fact practice, occurs within the Target Number Dash game. This game is from the K-5 Math Teaching Resources site.  In order to play this game students need to have access to playing cards or number cards.  I chose to have the students create the number cards using index cards cut in half. 

I model and explain the rules for the Target Number Dash game with a student partner.  In this game, students use the same cards and math operations to reach a designated target number. This modeling and demonstration provides students with the opportunity to ask questions, and also examples of how to use the numbers strategically to reach a given number.  The cards with the number one can be very helpful because of the identity property of multiplication (3.OA.5).

I practice several different number sentences the first time we play this game in class.  The more practice, the more quickly students were able to generate examples.  Eventually, the students are able to provide their own examples and explain the game to other students from other classes on their own. 

Game Playing

30 minutes

Students play this game with partners for the remainder of the math period.  During this time, I circulate to assist students but only if they become stuck or frustrated.  There is a productive level of struggle that I want my students to experience. To build perseverance, I must take a step back.

As I circulate I can also differentiate for students in adjusting the game (e.g., choosing to use fewer cards or drawing more cards to reach their target number).  

Before playing the game the students create their own set of cards.  This also provides students with cards to keep and use on their own at home with parents and siblings. 

In this video, the students work towards a target number of 8.  However, the cards drawn will not allow the students to reach that number.  The students discuss with me a modification to the game so that they can continue playing.