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This math operations (+ – x /) game requires students to pool their assigned numbers into a math sentence to reach the target answer




2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  

Title – Number Target Game
By – David Brown
Primary Subject – Math
Grade Level – 2-7


    Number Target is a game for teaching various mathematic processes such as addition, multiplication, subtraction and division.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Math’s Processes (+ x – /)

Required Material:

    Deck of playing cards or note cards numbered 1 to 13 (enough for your entire grade)

Aim of the Game:

    Students form groups using playing cards that equal a specified number using the given processes (+ – x /)

How to Play:

  1. Each student is given a card
  2. The teacher thinks of a number (any number that is reasonable for the ability level of the grade)
  3. The teacher gives one or more mathematical process options (+ x – /)
  4. The students are then given a time limit to form groups with other students. Using the numbers on the cards they have been given and the processes they can choose from, they need to form an equation that equals the target number


  • The target number: 63
  • The processes are: ( x and – )
  • John has an 8, Mary has a 10, Troy has an 11 and Sarah has a 5
  • They could make 63 like this: (John’s 8 x Mary’s 10 = 80) (80 – Troy’s 11 = 69) (69 – Sara’s 5 = 63) all together it would be (8 x 10 – 11 – 5 = 63)


  • There will be all kinds of ways students figure out how to reach the target, different methods depending on which processes they have to choose from.
  • Start with just multiplication and stick to the times table chart, then play around with process combinations, try: (x and +) (x and -) (+ and /), then step up with more combinations.
  • I find it works well when there are only two processes they can chooses from.
  • There will always be students who do not fit into a group, this is inevitable, but they will still have thought about mathematics processes.
  • Giving students two cards may give them more of an opportunity to fit into a group.
  • Can be played silently.

Note from LPP:

    You might run into problems with the “order of operations.” In a number sentence, the ( x and / ) are performed before ( + and – ). So, (18 – 6 x 2 – 1) is 23 if you perform the operations from left to right, but that is incorrect. First you multiply to get (18 – 12 – 1) or 5. If the 2 was a 4. you could also end up with negative numbers to explain. If you don’t want to teach order of operations, just use (+ and – ) or (x and /), or just keep the processes as separate sentences (all the steps in the example except the “all together” part) instead of one long one. This game would provide great order of operations practice for older students.

For more free games visit:

E-Mail David Brown !

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