Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Bingo! Select games for mathematical thinking

Date of this Version



Jackson, C., Taylor, C., Buchheister, K. (2013). Bingo! Select games for mathematical thinking. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 18(7), 424- 429.


Copyright © 2013 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc.


Incorporating math games into the classroom will help your students become motivated problem solvers. In this article we share teachers' experiences and students' thinking during the BINGO game and identify specific criteria for selecting games that promote mathematical reasoning and encourage motivated problem solving.

Games can both generate excitement among students and motivate them to participate in mathematics. Although games have been used primarily to review mathematical concepts at the middle school level, games should, and often do, have other instructional purposes. Smith and Backman (1975) argued that games should be used to develop mathematical concepts, improve perceptual abilities, and en- courage problem solving and logical thinking. When teachers use mathematical games as an instructional strategy, they are giving students opportunities to actively engage with the mathematics.

As middle school teachers, we often struggled with decisions related to which games to use for which mathematical purposes. We realized that we needed to critically evaluate the appropriateness and potential effectiveness of each game to address parents’ lingering question, “Why is my child playing in math class?” We wrestled with this question and sought specific criteria to help us select games that would promote mathematical thinking and reasoning. After reflecting on students’ interactions and discussions during game play, we identified specific guiding questions to help with the selection and implementation of games. We describe one game, Product Bingo, and how it played out in one middle school classroom. We then use that game to introduce three guiding principles that can help middle school mathematics teachers as they use and reflect on implementing games in the classroom.