Probability is sometimes a difficult concept for students to grasp. Probability is the mathematical term for expressing the likelihood of an event's occurrence. For example, if you spin a spinner divided into four equal sections (red, green, blue, yellow), the probability of landing on a yellow section would be one-fourth. A great way to teach elementary children about probability is through playing games. While there are many versions of probability games on the market, creating your own is another option worth exploring and leaves an opportunity for tweaking if needed. This simple board game can be adapted for older students by changing the questions on the cards.
Cut a piece of plywood or cardboard to the desired size of the game board using scissors or a saw. Cardboard is more flexible and able to be bent for storage. Remember to keep the size reasonable for storage purposes.
Create a design for the board, either drawn by hand or computer created. Most game boards have a path to follow. There should be a start space, a finish space and equally divided spaces along the path. These spaces will be where game pieces will be placed during game play and will mark a player's current position on the board. The design should leave an empty space or a rectangular space on the board to mark where game cards will be placed. Clipart, photos from magazines or drawn pictures may be added to the design to make the board more attractive and interesting to the players. Another feature that may be added are spaces marked Lose a Turn, Go Back 3 Spaces or Move Forward 2 Spaces to make the game more interesting. Use a ruler to make sure all lines and spaces are equally divided if drawing by hand. Glue the finished design onto the board.
To create game pieces, find desirable clipart using a word processor. Print the clipart and glue onto cardstock or thicker paper such as the cardboard found on cereal or cracker boxes. Make sure that the pieces you select are a fit for the spaces on the game board design. If not, resize and reprint. Game cards can be made from index cards cut in half or by computer-generated boxes. Write or type a probability problem onto each card. For example, "Johnny woke up with no electricity but had to get ready for school. His sock drawer contained three red socks, five blue socks, and eight white socks. What is the probability that Johnny would pull out two of the same coloured socks in the first two draws?" Number the game cards in the lower right hand corner for matching with the answer sheet.
Using the numbers on the bottom right hand corner of the game cards, create a corresponding answer sheet that the other players can use to check the answers during game play. Laminate the game pieces, answer sheet and game cards for durability. Gather two die, which will be used to determine the number of spaces a player will move along the path if he answers correctly, and place all of the materials in a baggie for safekeeping.
As with any other game, there needs to be a clear set of rules. Create a direction sheet that includes information on how to set up the board for game play, how to move along the spaces, what the special spaces (e.g., Lose a Turn) mean and what to do in the event that a player answers a question incorrectly. For example, if answering correctly means you get another turn or if answering incorrectly means that you do not go forward along the path, then the direction sheet should make that clear to the player. Once the direction sheet is completed, play the game with a friend and make sure that the directions are clear so that any needed changes can be made before presenting it to students for game play.