One of my favorite games to play in math class is Mingle. I learned about this processing activity through this video from Barbara McCormick on the Teaching Channel. Mingle
Mingle is a number sense and counting game. When it is time to play Mingle, we review the rules then scholars walk around the classroom with their hands behind their backs saying "mingle, mingle, mingle" until I call out a number. Once the number is called, students quickly sort themselves into groups of the stated number. We count and check the groups together. When the number of students in the class cannot be made into an equal number of groups, I engage the students who are "remainders" by having them do something fun like do 5 jumping jacks or count backwards from 10 super fast.
The scholars (and I) love Mingle so much that I wanted to continue to use the processing strategy to teach/practice other kindergarten math standards beyond counting and creating groups of a specific number. So, I began to tweak the game a bit. When we were learning about 1 more/1 less, I would question scholars: 'If your group had 1 more, how many would that be?' or 'If your group had 1 less how many would that be?'...2 more?/2 less? I would record the equations on the board for modeling purposes.
As we began investigating composing and decomposing numbers, it was easy to see how Mingle could be used to demonstrate the composition of groups using small numbers. This game made investigating all the ways to make 3,4 and 5 very engaging! Once students were in groups we would decompose by boys/girls, again recording the equation on the board for modeling purposes. This week I even inserted myself into a group to model the idea of 3 addends in a balanced equation. 1 girl + 3 boys + 1 teacher = 5 people or 1+3+1=5.
As is true with all classroom games that will be used on a regular basis, it is important to take the time to teach procedures up front. I know, for our class, this simple game has provided many engaging learning experiences.