Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Bank Account Game

When I first started teaching high school math, a colleague made a simple card game that the students LOVED to play. It was kind of like the Game of Life without the board and the little cars with removable blue and pink pegs.

Each student had a blank check register and they would keep track of deposits and withdrawals to their checking account by recording these amounts in the deposit or withdrawal column of the check register based on the cards that they drew and then add or subtract to find the current balance in their account. In this game, each player had a job that earned them an annual salary that was paid out to all the players every few rotations. Hence the students had practice keeping an accurate checking account balance but never had to worry about bouncing a check or having a negative balance. The student who had the highest balance in their account at the end of the game was the winner.

Throughout the school year, I found myself going to her regularly to borrow her card game for a few days and always wanted to make my own set of cards, but never found the time.

Five years later, when I started teaching sixth grade, I realized that this game structure would be a great way for my students to practice working with negative numbers. I still didn't have the time to make a set of card myself, so I got my students involved by asking them to make two deposit cards and two withdrawal cards. I told the students to only use increments of $10 with a maximum of $50 for each deposit or withdrawal. These friendly numbers allowed the students to play the game using mostly mental math by referencing a number line drawn in increments of 10. They loved playing the game with cards they had created themselves and now I have an abundance of student made cards--enough for several groups to be playing at the same time.  Here are some examples that I showed them.

And find some examples of student made deposit and withdrawal cards here.

The goal of the game was not to practice integer computation following a set of memorized rules, but instead for them to get a feeling for moving along the number line especially when the balance changes from positive to negative or vice versa.

I encouraged the students to draw number lines to work with during the game. Next year I will provide large number lines in sleeve protectors that they can draw on with dry erase markers as they calculate the balance in their account.

Here is the link to the Bank Account Game Template.

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea! It always seems better to ask the kids to help. We adults often get so wrapped up in our own heads that we forget to ask the energetic resources right in front of us. The game is nest too as it is rooted in real life experience.