Let the Games Begin

By Shannon Lewis, November 22, 2010

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics

Lesson Time

45-60 minutes for each lesson


As students enter the third grade, they encounter many new mathematical ideas that can be very difficult to comprehend. Rounding numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand is one such concept they may struggle with. This is an essential concept to have a strong understanding of because it is related to estimating and determining reasonableness of mathematical computation.  Adults use these skills in our everyday lives.

Students usually find it easier to round a two-digit number to the nearest ten, a three-digit number to the nearest hundred, and a four-digit number to the nearest thousand, but have difficulty rounding a four-digit number to the nearest ten or hundred or three-digit number to the nearest ten.  The students will work collaboratively to design a game with clear written directions, that requires the players to round three- and four-digit numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand.

The design process will aid in developing students’ writing skills and produce a product that will help students understand the process of rounding and practice that skill.  Using the design process for a clear problem, brainstorming, creating, and presenting will allow students to create an original game that is purposeful and authentic.

National Standards

Common Core English Language Arts Strand Writing Grade 3 W.3.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. W.3.5. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. W.3.6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Common Core English Language Arts Strand Speaking and Listening Grade 3 SL.3.1Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacherled) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. SL.3.4.  Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.


Standard 1. Level II. Uses a variety of strategies in the problem-solving process

7. Uses explanations of the methods and reasoning behind the problem solution to determine reasonableness of and to verify results with respect to the original problem

Standard 3. Level II. Uses basic and advanced procedures while performing the processes of computation

4. Uses specific strategies (e.g., front-end estimation, rounding) to estimate computations and to check the reasonableness of computational results


Standard 1. Level II. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

1. Prewriting:  Uses prewriting strategies to plan written work (e.g., makes outlines, uses published pieces as writing models, constructs critical standards, brainstorms, builds background knowledge)

2. Drafting and Revising: Uses strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g., analyzes and clarifies meaning, makes structural and syntactical changes, uses an organizational scheme, uses sensory words and figurative language, rethinks and rewrites for different audiences and purposes, checks for a consistent point of view and for transitions between paragraphs, uses direct feedback to revise compositions)

3. Editing and Publishing: Uses strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g., eliminates slang; edits for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling at a developmentally appropriate level; proofreads using reference materials, word processor, and other resources; edits for clarity, word choice, and language usage; uses a word processor or other technology to publish written work)

Standard 3. Level II. Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions

9. Uses conventions of spelling in written compositions (e.g., spells high frequency, commonly misspelled words from appropriate grade-level list; uses a dictionary and other resources to spell words; uses initial consonant substitution to spell related words; uses vowel combinations for correct spelling; uses contractions, compounds, roots, suffixes, prefixes, and syllable constructions to spell words)

10. Uses conventions of capitalization in written compositions (e.g., titles of people; proper nouns [names of towns, cities, counties, and states; days of the week; months of the year; names of streets; names of countries; holidays]; first word of direct quotations; heading, salutation, and closing of a letter)

11. Uses conventions of punctuation in written compositions (e.g., uses periods after imperative sentences and in initials, abbreviations, and titles before names; uses commas in dates and addresses and after greetings and closings in a letter; uses apostrophes in contractions and possessive nouns; uses quotation marks around titles and with direct quotations; uses a colon between hour and minutes)

Listening and Speaking

Standard 8. Level II. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

1. Contributes to group discussions

5. Uses strategies to convey a clear main point when speaking (e.g., expresses ideas in a logical manner, uses specific vocabulary to establish tone and present information) from different sources; uses appropriate visual aids and media)

Visual Arts

Standard 2. Level II. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art

3. Uses visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas


Standard 2. Level II. Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs

1. Uses a word processor to edit, copy, move, save, and print text with some formatting (e.g., centering lines, using tabs, forming paragraphs)

Life Skills - Working With Others

Standard 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group



Students will be able to:

  • understand estimating and the process of rounding
  • understand scenarios and situations were estimating is beneficial
  • communicate and collaborate in small groups
  • brainstorm, design, and create an engaging game that allows students to practice and demonstrate rounding numbers
  • work collaboratively to problem-solve and make decisions regarding the design and creation of a game
  • use grade level appropriate writing conventions, applications and strategies
  • incorporate the teacher’s parameters in the design
  • use word-processing
  • present and demonstrate their game to the teacher and classroom


Web sites for rounding practice and math games:

Rounding Flashcards

Rounding and Estimating Games


Farmer’s Market Rounding by Julie Dalton

Numbers Elementary: Rounding by Mike Schmuck

Rounding: My Path to Math by Marsha Arvoy and Dorianne Nardi

Coyotes All Around (Math Start 2) by Stuart Murphy


  • various children’s games
  • chart paper
  • paper plates
  • beans, coins or chips (used for game pieces)
  • dice
  • spinners
  • construction paper
  • tag board
  • index cards
  • paper clips
  • sentence strips
  • brads
  • tape
  • markers
  • rulers
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • computer or word processor
  • Project Planning Sheet
  • Self-Evaluation Sheet
  • Teacher Evaluation Sheet


estimate rounding numbers  


Day 1: Building Background (Note: The purpose of today will be to discuss and chart students’ prior knowledge of rounding and real life uses of estimation.  They will also analyze games to discover components, design, and objectives of several games.)

1. Ask class these questions to create dialogue:

  • How do we round numbers?
  • What are the steps?
  • What is estimating?
  • What could be a situation when you might need to estimate?
  • What are some of your favorite card and board games?
  • How do you play your favorite game?
  • How do you win your favorite game?

2. Divide the class into groups of three or four students, keeping in mind language levels and academic abilities.  These students will work together during the course of this lesson.

3. Pass out games and a “Game Analysis” sheet to each group.  Students will fill out the sheet to analyze features of the game.  Focus will be on game design, objective, directions, and necessary skills needed to play the game.

4. Bring groups together to discuss students’ discoveries.

5. Chart findings for future reference.

(Note: Steps for Learning – The purpose of the following activities will be for students to determine components of their game and present design challenge.)

6. Present the design challenge.  Explain to students that they are designers whose challenge is to design an original game that will require the players to use rounding to play the game.  Announce that they will work in groups of three to four to complete the challenge.

Tell them that eventually, students will play the completed games from another third grade class.

7. Present students with the materials they will be able to use to make the game.  Explain that they do not need to use all of materials in their design.

8.  In their student groups, they will brainstorm design ideas.  They will write, sketch, or model ideas on a large sheet of paper.  Tell the students that the emphasis should be on teamwork: listening to each person’s ideas, sharing the work, and taking turns.  Reinforce that all ideas in a brainstorm are great ideas and that brainstorm ideas do not have to be practical or doable.

9. Gather students to whole group meeting area to share a couple of ideas with the class.

Day 2: Project Planning and Designing 

1. Reiterate design challenge to students: Explain that they must make decisions about the game they will create.  Ask them:

  • What kind of game will you make? Board game or card game?
  • When do the players round numbers?
  • How many players?
  • How do you win?
  • What would be a good name for the game?

2. Give challenge parameters. The game must: have clear written directions, a name, require rounding three- and four- digit numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand to play.

3. Let the designing begin! Pass out the "Project Planning Sheet."  Students work in small groups to decide the objective of their game, how it will be played, the rules, etc. Emphasize teamwork.  Go around to each group asking probing questions:

  • How will the game be played?
  • When do the players need to round?
  • What strategies do the players need to use to win?
  • How will you make the directions easy to understand and follow?

4. Students begin creating their games. Encourage students to split up the work in order to work more effectively.

Day 3: Project Planning and Designing (continued) 

1. Students continue working in small groups to finish their game design and drafting instructions.  Teacher should continue walking around to groups to consult, encourage, or answer any questions.

2. With teacher’s okay, students begin word processing the instructions to the game. The teacher can assist with formatting if needed.  The teacher provides trouble-shooting assistance with technology as needed.

Day 4:Project Planning & Designing (continued)

1. Work time – Continue if needed.

2. Students will print their directions to proofread for grammatical, mechanical, and spelling errors.

3. Once the directions are edited, students make finishing touches on their games and prepare to present and demonstrate to their peers.

4. Students complete self-evaluation to reflect on their design and the game creation process.

Day 5: Sharing

1. Student groups will present their game to their peers and teacher. The presentations should include:

  • an explanation of how to play the game
  • a demonstration of the game
  • how the game requires the players to practice rounding
  • what will make the game fun for kids to play

2. Peers will give feedback and suggestions for any changes or adjustments that need to be made for the game to be successful.

3. If groups find that their design needs some changes, give them time at the end of the period to redesign and present their changes.

4. Teacher will plan a time when students can play their games with another class.


The teacher will interact with groups to listen to their conversations, observe and ask questions to push student thinking. The teacher will use a rubric to evaluate student group work and finished product. Students will complete a self-evaluation.  

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students may create other multimedia designs to convey the same information, i.e. books, posters, Web sites, etc. Students may create other games with a concept of the student’s choosing.

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