negative numbers afl
I use this game as a starter for adding and subtracting negative numbers. Each student needs a whiteboard. The game is played as follows:
- each student starts with £10 - which is recorded on one side of the board.
- count how many students there are in the class. Each round students can choose any amount (whole pounds only) that is less than or equal to this number. They write this amount in secret on their board.
- all students show their board at the same time. Any students who have the same amount of money as each other lose that amount. Those students with a unique amount gain that amount.
- students keep a running total throughout the game on the side of their boards.
- repeat the above process for as many rounds as time allows.
- reduce the number of amounts students can choose on each round (thus guaranteeing that some students will lose money).
- on the final round I usually double the amount that they can chose, but insist that they choose an even amount for the round.
- Students can go into negative amounts of money (and a lot do!). There is a great deal of value in discussing tactics and the psychology of choosing the amount for each round.
- the task lends itself to a discussion of profit and debt and so has direct real-life applications.
There is a high level of trust involved in this game, but students generally enjoy it and ask to play “just one more round”.