Topics: Multiplication, area, strategy, addition.
Materials: Crayons, Blockout game sheet
Recommended Grades: 3, 4
Common Core: 3.OA.A.1, 3.OA.C.7, 3.MD.C.6, 3.MD.C.7
Roll the dice and shade in a rectangle. How can you claim the most space on the board? For 2-4 players.
Why We Love Blockout
This is one of those rare games that reinforces both the skill of multiplication and the visual model that makes sense of it. Blockout can be played competitively or collaboratively, and is a wonderful game to introduce or reinforce the concepts behind multiplication.
How to Play
- Players choose colors, then take turns rolling the dice, and shading in a rectangle given by the dice rolls. If you roll a 2 and a 5, you can shade in a 2 by 5 (or 5 by 2) rectangle. No one can shade in a square that has already been colored.
- If there is no room to fit the rectangle you rolled on the board, you pass. If all players pass in a row, the game is over.
- Players get a point for each square they have colored in at the end of the game.
- Students can play in groups of 2-4. It is also possible to play individually or collaboratively. For a collaborative or solitaire game, players roll and try to cooperatively fill up as much of the board as possible. If every player must pass in a row, the game is over. The fewer the number of leftover squares, the better the game.
Tips for the Classroom
- Take a volunteer and demonstrate the first several turns of a game of Blockout.
- For the first time playing, students can play as above. For subsequent games, you can show students how to track their points as they go. For example, they can write 2 x 5 = 10 inside the 2 by 5 rectangle, and know that they have 10 points for that turn. This connects the game to multiplication without making it feel to academic right away.
- Players take turns rolling two dice, and drawing a rectangle on the game board with side lengths given by the two numbers they rolled. For example, if you rolled a 3 and a 6, you would draw a 3 by 6 rectangle, placed horizontally or vertically on the board.
- Your rectangle cannot intersect or be contained in any previously drawn rectangles. If you cannot add a rectangle to the board on your turn, pass the dice to the next player. If all players pass in a row, the game is over.
- Players get a point for each square they’ve drawn a rectangle around. For example, a 3 by 4 rectangle is worth 12 points. Whoever boxes the most squares wins.