Math Relay

I was frustrated with review games.  The students that needed the most help didn’t seem to be getting it out of the game.  Although they liked the fun of Ka’hoots those not fast enough just seemed to guess.  I tried Jeopardy as teams but, again, the students who already knew would jump in and do the problem for the group.  Even having a different student present the answer didn’t do what I wanted.  So, I had an idea.  I call it Math Relay.  And although not The Answer to All Your Review Problems, it has made a huge difference in my class reviews.  And students love it.

The first time we play we discuss what a relay race is in track and field.  Enough 6th graders know to have a good discussion.  I then explain that the actual math is still a group task as always – everybody contributes, everybody writes, everybody understands.  The relay part comes in getting the questions and bringing answers up to me.


The first time we play I prepare 4 questions and one challenge.  Later, in the year I can have up to 6, plus the challenge.  I try to make the first one just a little easier than the rest.  It might be a problem we have done in class.  I also cover all of the standards that will be on the test.I print them out each on a full piece of paper headed ‘Do Not Write on This Paper’.  It usually works.  I copy enough for each group in my largest class plus one, just in case someone writes on it.

I place the piles upside down around the room.  I have large numbers up in each corner from a Get to Know You activity in the beginning of the year.  Later I’ll add 5 and 6.  After each period I check the papers to be sure no one has written on them and turn them back upside down.   I also do the problems ahead of time so I have a quick key to use.


Students know that the chairs in each group are ‘numbered’ and which chair they are in.  When I say ‘Go’ chair one jumps up and gets Problem 1.  The group discusses it and then each student writes the solution in their notebook.  Chair 1 then brings it to me to be checked.  If someone else is already there they then make a line across the front of the room so that my view is not blocked.  If the question is incorrect they go back and work on it with their group.  The third time they come up I will give a small suggestion to help them.  When the problem is correct I initial it, they return the problem and return to their group.  As soon as Chair 1’s bottom is in their seat Chair 2 rushes to get the next problem.  It continues until we have only 10 minutes left of class.

The Winner:

When the first group that has completed all the problems has come up I put a 1 next to my initials.  I continue in order until time is up. Only a few groups general have to wait and not for very long.

I go to the group I labeled 1 and check that all four students have done the work correctly in their notebooks.  If they have not, the group is disqualified and I move on to group 2, etc.  I use decorated pencils as prizes, although students liked it better when I used a Jolly Rancher.

After I have found a winner I project the answers so that all groups can see the answer to the last problem they were working on.

Last week a 6th grade boy said, ‘This is better than gym!’  I call that success.

6 thoughts on “Math Relay

  1. Pingback: Math Games! | I Speak Math

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