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The Game of 24

When I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher had a copy of the game 24.  When a class period unexpectedly finished 5 minutes early, we would pull out the game and put a 24 card on the board to solve.  If you’re not familiar with the game, use the four given digits plus any mathematical operators to make the number 24.

the game of 24

My current students had never played this before, but we’ve been playing Witzzle every single Wednesday this year.  As soon as I explained that 24 was like Witzzle but with four numbers that always equaled 24, they were ready to go!

Why am I blogging about this?  In my search of math-y activities to engage my students with post-EOI testing, I found a PDF file with two pre-made pages of 24 games.  This file has a page of Level 1 questions and a page of Level 2 questions.

The Game of 24

My students spent much less time completing these than I anticipated.  One student would figure out one of the 12 puzzles and share the solution with all those sitting around them.  This ended up taking around 10 minutes of class instead of the 30 or so I was hoping for.

If I was going to do this with my students again, I would put them into teams and make it into a competition.  This would encourage small groups of students to work together collaboratively instead of just trying to share answers with others.

This activity led to some great discussion about the order of operations.  I think I might do this activity around the same time as order of operation review instead of waiting until the end of the year next time.

I’m thinking that next year I want to incorporate more brain breaks into my classes.  I want to occasionally pause class to give students a minute to re-energize.  I’m wondering if occasionally sticking a single 24 game into my Smartboard files would work.  Any other ideas regarding this would be greatly appreciated!

Michelle Bailey

Monday 1st of June 2015

Try GoNoodle. Some of the activities could be appropriate for your grade. Look at the deep breathing and mindfulness channels.

Also, similar to Game of 24 is Ken-Ken Puzzles. These are similar to Sudoko but with simple math.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 2nd of June 2015

I adore ken-ken puzzles! I will have to look into GoNoodle. Thanks for the rec!


Wednesday 13th of May 2015

About brain breaks, I find that sometimes students are "mathhed out" (like maxed out on doing math), and depending on the activities that you do that day, a brain break can be simply giving them a chance to get up and move. Maybe make them do jumping jacks or do a short exercise.

If you want to include math in your brain break, I would say choose something totally different from the subject matter of the class. For example, have them do something with a geometric shape if you've been dealing with equations for the past 10-20 minutes. Sticking a 24 game into your smartboard files sounds like a great idea also! I also want to include more brain breaks in my teaching next year. So far, I teach in a room without a computer and I want to request to move to a room with a smartboard to be able to utilize the technology in my classroom. This year, I've had to move my class to a different classroom in order to show them videos or anything on the computer. Btw, Do you find that your students are able to see your smartboard without turning off the lights?

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Thursday 14th of May 2015

Great ideas, Adina!

About the smartboard: the lightbulbs directly in front of my smartboard used to be missing. It was the best thing ever (and totally intentional!), but a well-meaning employee installed bulbs over Christmas Break. I often have to turn off the lights for students to really be able to see what I'm writing.


Wednesday 13th of May 2015

"Any other ideas regarding this would be greatly appreciated! "

One option is to start with a target number (here, 24) and vary combinations to hit it.

Another option is to start with the combinations (here, only 4s: and vary the targets you can hit!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Thursday 14th of May 2015

Thanks for the link!


Wednesday 13th of May 2015

you might be interested in this excel file. it generates a ton of make 24 problems. handy.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

Thanks for the link!!!


Tuesday 12th of May 2015

This is a great game. I use it as a warm up/do now with my 8th graders thoughout the year - put four numbers up on the board and have them try to figure it out. There are some hard combinations out there.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

:D I definitely agree about there being some hard combinations! It gives us a chance to talk about growth mindset vs fixed mindset.

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