How to Create Fun Math Games for Your Middle School Classroom

December 19, 2021 1 Comment
Scavenger hunts are low-prep and get your students up and moving.

Do you feel stuck with how to learn how to create fun math games for your middle school classroom? Creating and using engaging classroom games in math can be easy, stress-free, and inexpensive. Teacher life is crazy and stressful (especially this year) so I have a fun game idea to share with you to relieve some stress. Over the last few posts I have shared two other ideas from this 3 part series on how to create fun math games for your middle school classroom. This is the final blog in the series and will cover a low-prep math game you can use tomorrow if you want that will get your students out of their seats!

Why Use Math Games in Your Middle School Classroom? 

If you missed it in the last 2 blogs, let’s recap why you should incorporate math games in your middle school classroom. Many people think that when you incorporate a math game into your learning environment, your kids are not actually gaining anything beneficial. Rather, using games and activities in your classroom actually creates meaningful opportunities for your students to practice, apply, and/or review the content you taught them. It’s been shown countless times that engagement and experience make all the difference in a student’s buy-in to the material. Depending on the day, mood, and attitude of your students, the topic you are covering might need a certain modality to be successful. Some days, that may be a game/activity like Scavenger Hunts. Using math games in your middle school classroom is an additional strategy to support your students and their learning.

One of My Go-To Classroom Activity Game

There are a variety of games and activities you can create and use in your middle school classroom. I use so many different games all year (like Tumbling Towers and Math Lottery that I broke down in my last blogs for you), but in today’s blog, we are breaking down another classroom game you can create and easily use with your own students all year long. Don’t worry, I have direct links and examples for you to make the creation process easy.

A Quick Overview of Math Scavenger Hunts

The final activity idea you can use to create and use with your middle schoolers are Scavenger Hunts. Scavenger Hunts are a low-prep game (with the template I will be sharing) that you can pair with any questions or curriculum resources. To use a classroom scavenger hunt, you will prep the scavenger hunt (using a template makes this part quick) and then display each question page around your room or space. Students will start at one question and solve/answer it. Then, they will go find their answer to that question on one of the other question pages. Students will then solve that question next and repeat the process until they end up where they started. This activity can be used for review or to practice for a specific skill(s). This makes scavenger hunts so beneficial to keep in your teacher toolbox for those days where you need to get your students out of their seats.

Learn how to create fun math games for your middle school classroom.

Materials and Prep for Scavenger Hunts

The preparation for Math Scavenger Hunts is minimal and easy to prep. So, let’s break this activity down so you can bring it into your classroom.

Materials Needed:

  1. Scavenger Hunt Questions
    1. This Editable Scavenger Hunt Template allows you to easily prep your scavenger hunt activity in a short time.
      1. This template also comes with a student recording sheet directly aligned to the activity.
  2. Optional: Prizes for teams who complete it. If your school utilizes a reward/incentive system, you can totally use that. If you would like to give something to students, I have awarded a piece of candy, school supplies, or one extra credit point. 

Prep:

  1. First, create the scavenger hunt. Insert your questions into the template (a total of 10 questions).
  2. Print the scavenger hunt and the student recording sheet.
    1. Printing the scavenger hunt on colored paper helps the questions pop out at students during the activity.
    2. Print a recording sheet for each student or each team, depending on how you would like to structure it, and have students show their thinking.
  3. Fold each scavenger hunt page down the dotted line.
  4. Display/hang each question page from the scavenger hunt around your classroom or space. Be sure to shuffle the order of the pages so they are not in “order” as you hang them.
    1. I use thumbtacks and tape to display my scavenger hunts.

How Do Students Complete a Scavenger Hunt?

Classroom scavenger hunt ideas to use in your middle school class.

Step By Step:

  1. Assign each student/team a question to start at.
  2. Each student will write the letter that is on the question they are in front of on their recording sheet. 
  3. Then, each student will answer/solve that question on their recording sheet.
  4. Once they get an answer, they will go around the room to find which question page has the answer they came up with.
  5. When they find it, they will write the letter from that question page on their recording sheet, solve that problem, and repeat the entire process.
    1. If they do not find their answer, they made a mistake and need to go back to find their error.
  6. When students have all 10 boxes completed, their final answer should lead them back to where they started.
    1. If they end up at a question twice, they made a mistake.
  7. Optional Prizes/Incentives:
    1. You can give out optional prizes to students/teams for simply completing the entire scavenger hunt or being in the top 1-3 teams to finish.
      1. Some of the small prizes I give out all year long other than school incentives and school supplies are water bottle stickers and jolly ranchers. Click here to get direct links (This is an affiliate link and I get a small commission if you make a purchase through it).
Make your own classroom scavenger hunt in less than 20 minutes.

How To Structure Classroom a Scavenger Hunt

We know that competition and movement in the classroom are contributing factors to student engagement. Here are a few recommendations I have when structuring Math Scavenger Hunts in your classroom:

  • Model and explain every part of what you expect of your students during this math game (I have multiple Tiktok videos inaction of what this activity can look like).
  • Let students know upfront if there will be a winner or grade given at the end of completion.
  • Although this can be an independent activity, I find that structuring Scavenger Hunts in teams of 2 is what works best for my students. It allows collaboration and teamwork while providing support to each student as they work through the activity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Scavenger Hunts

I often share about how I use math games and activities in my middle school classroom and get asked the same questions time after time so I want to share some of the most popular FAQ’s as you dive into Classroom Scavenger Hunts.

  • How many kids do you put in each team?
    • I try to keep my students in teams of two for scavenger hunts, however, I adjust that number to 3 as needed when I have odd amounts or absences. You can also have students complete a scavenger hunt independently.
  • How do you keep students focused on the Math and not just the game or activity?
    • This is probably the most popular question I get and I wish the answer was more simple but it all goes back to expectations and classroom management. Model exactly what the activity should sound and look like when you explain it. Model exactly what it should not sound or look like and when students are completing it, if they are not meeting those expectations, stop and correct them. It’s okay to stop the activity if the majority of students are not following the directions you gave. For scavenger hunts especially, being very explicit with the directions is very important.
  • How do you ensure your students are actually doing the work and not just messing around?
    • Very similar to the previous question, this goes back to the expectations you set. From day one, I am very clear that students are to show their work/thinking for everything we do. When explaining the expectations of the game, I revisit that everyone needs to have their work and answer before the time is up. This is never a problem in my classroom once they know I mean business because they know we will simply do a paper-pencil assignment if needed instead of our math game.

If You’re Looking for Ready to Go, Pre-Made Math Scavenger Hunts…

Here is a link for 6th grade Math scavenger hunts that are 100% ready to be printed and used!

6th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Growing Bundle | CCSS Aligned

If You Missed the Other Two Game Idea Blog Posts…

You can find them here:

How to Create Fun Math Games for Your Middle School Classroom Part 1

How to Create Fun Math Games for Your Middle School Classroom Part 2

Math Scavenger Hunts have become a staple in my middle school classroom. I hope this three-part series was helpful and sparked a new idea for how to create fun math games for your middle school classroom.

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  • […] Looking for other classroom activities to keep your students engaged? Read this blog post all about scavenger hunts here. […]

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    I am a passionate middle school Math teacher who loves bringing engagement and rigor into my classroom. My goal is to support classroom teachers in making Math instruction meaningful for their students too! Read More

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