Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of



An Inside Track: Fostering Mathematical Practices

Date of this Version



Buchheister, K., Jackson, C., & Taylor, C. (2015). An inside track: Fostering mathematical practices. Teaching Children Mathematics, 22(1), 28 – 35.


Copyright © 2015 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. All rights reserved.


Conversations from a second-grade class demonstrate how teachers can use mathematical games to emphasize key ideas from the Common Core's Standards for Mathematical Practice.

"I admit it. I was the teacher who initially thought games were fi ller activities that allowed me time to work with students who needed individual help. I viewed this as a win-win situation. My students reviewed concepts while I provided one-on-one instruction. But when I closely observed my students playing games, they weren’t just reviewing. I realized they were using high-level thinking. Now I use games as an instructional tool to develop my students’ mathematical understanding." (Mr. Vaughn, a second-grade teacher)

Classroom teachers, like second-grade veteran teacher Vaughn, may not initially consider games as opportunities for students to engage in deep mathematical thinking. However, in this article, we reveal how Vaughn used Attribute Trains, a game he adapted from NCTM Illu-minations ( to foster his students’ thinking related to key ideas within the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP) from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) (CCSSI 2010).