CARD GAMES: A COMPLEMENTARY TOOL FOR LEARNING MATHEMATICS

S. Lantarón Sánchez1, M. López González 1, J. Rodrigo Hitos2

1Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
2Universidad Pontificia Comillas (SPAIN)
When teaching mathematics, it is important to offer a variety of fun, engaging, and interesting activities that promote the students’ interaction, capture their interest, and encourage their participation. This is so much so that many countries are now incorporating these types of activities into their curricula.

Nowadays, it is well-known that games and mathematics are increasingly becoming more intertwined. Board games in general (particularly card games) make use of strategies and in many cases, concepts which are undoubtedly related to the field of mathematics.

Games are one of the most interesting resources that can be used in a classroom at all levels. They promote student engagement, which increases if the game is known and is familiar to the students. This can be seen with the games presented in this work. These games are played with cards and are based on already existing well-known games.

The most enriching aspect of using games in mathematics lessons can not only be found in the playing of the games themselves, but also in the series of events that should always follow: an analysis of the resolution processes, a discussion about the solutions and the results, etc. It is not just a question of playing, but of using the game as a didactic resource. The inclusion of games must be done following some basic guidelines, which favor the success of their use in the classroom.

Given the above, why not introduce them naturally into classes? It seems evident that they can be an effective tool to engage, motivate, and reinforce certain concepts.

In this article, we analyze two card games which were invented and created by the work’s authors and which are effective in the meaningful learning of mathematics. These games specifically focus on the study of real-valued functions of real variables; a topic which is included in high school syllabi and in the first-year courses studied during technical degrees. They are considered an adequate resource for learning this part of mathematics. They are based on existing games on the market and therefore can be easy for students to get the hang of. The concepts from these games have been reworked and adapted to the topic in question. The games have been called:
• Sobrevivefun
• Lleva cartas matemático

These games are strategy based, that is, the players must think and look for the best solutions and ways to win. What’s more, the strategies used should be supported by knowledge that students already have about real-valued functions of real variables. With each game, the topic’s concepts are reinforced and strengthened.

Games can serve as a tool for reminding and strengthening a wide variety of mathematical concepts. This can be also beneficial for many other subjects where the cards can be adapted to the topic, but the main concepts from the games are kept the same. Therefore, they can be useful to other teachers who can use them according to their needs and the subjects they teach.

We believe that the games proposed fulfill the requirements that games must meet in order to be effective as didactic tools:
• To have simple rules and be brief.
• To be attractive in presentation and development.
• To not be a game of chance.
• To be a game that the students know and that can be "mathematized".