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Independent vs Dependent Variables Review Game

I created this ghosts in the graveyard review game to give my Algebra 1 students some much needed practice with independent vs dependent variables.

Ghosts in the Graveyard is an incredibly versatile review game structure that I learned about from Math Tales From the Spring. It’s October, so the theme is appropriate. But, you could change the theme to match whatever holiday is nearest.

This game was the perfect way to review independent and dependent variables after being out of school five days (three school days plus a weekend) for fall break.  

Independent vs Dependent Variables Review Game

I made eight challenge cards for my students to work through in pairs.  The sentences on these cards were taken from worksheets I found online.  This is the worksheet I stole from the most.  

Independent vs Dependent Variables Review Game

Students were also given a sheet to write all of their answers on to be checked.  I found that this activity works best with students in pairs.

With this sheet, students were able to start with the challenge number of their choice.  I tried playing this game once without a recording sheet like this, and it was quite chaotic.   

After each pair would finish a challenge, they would bring it up to my desk to be checked.  Since each challenge had three different questions, one of two things would happen.  I would tell them that they were all correct and give them a ghost to place in the graveyard, or I would tell them the number of questions that were correct or incorrect.  They became very mad at me when I wouldn’t tell them exactly which questions were correct or incorrect.  It’s okay.  They lived.  And, they were able, usually, to figure it out themselves!    

To make giving out ghosts easy on myself, I found a ghost clipart picture and printed it out a zillion times.  

Ghosts in the Graveyard

The group members would write their name on their ghost and tape it to the tombstone of their choosing on the dry erase board.  When there were five minutes remaining in class, I would announce the point values of each tombstone.  I chose point values of 10, 20, 25, and 50 points.  I just wrote these on a sticky note and stuck them on the tomb stones.

Ghosts in the Graveyard Review Game

I did try playing this with six tombstones once instead of four.  It didn’t work out nearly as well, but that was also the same game in which I tried playing it in 25 minutes instead of a full 50-minute period.  This game really does need a full 45-50 minute period to work well.  


Thursday 14th of May 2020

I tried going to the original link but it is no longer working. Would you happen to have her originals and can share? I am still trying to wrap my head around this game. Looks fun! Thanks!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Friday 15th of May 2020

Try this link:


Tuesday 10th of September 2019

I color coded the half sheets that had the questions with the ghosts. It made scoring it go a lot faster and there wasn't as much downtime at the end. Each group was a different color.


Monday 14th of November 2016

My teachers are going to try to do something similar to this for their midterm review with parts of the snowman. We'll let you know how it goes! Thanks for always sharing so much.


Tuesday 1st of November 2016

Hi Sarah! I love this activity! Thank you for the idea to get better and do more with independent and dependent variables. I agree with above- can you explain what they do with the points from the tombstones? Also, do you by chance have an answer key you can include or show so I can check my work! :) Thanks in advance!


Tuesday 1st of November 2016

Hi Sarah. This activity looks fun. I'm sure it could be adjusted it for whatever time of the year it is... (say turkeys in the oven or arrows in a heart....). One question, how do the points play into the activity. Are the kids just excited to get points?... Do the pts go towards any reward?... Thanks for the upcoming reply!

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