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Playing Uno - The combine like terms version

posted Oct 9, 2013, 6:40 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated Jun 12, 2018, 5:54 PM ]
So today I threw out a picture of my 8th graders playing "combine like terms" Uno on twitter and was about blown away by the retweets, favorites and questions about where to find details. Since they started from an idea given by Mike Klavon at our local ISD (Ottawa Area ISD), they have been rumbling around in my head.  The fun thing - it actually worked!  Here are the details, the cards I used and pictures to try to make it more realistic.

1) I made these "cards" in a word document.  It's a google doc that I linked here.  Cards for CLT Uno
                                                                  A group in the middle of a hand of Uno!  .....   

2) I made five copies of the cards, each on a separate color of card stock.  I sorted the cards so that each deck had all terms and extra cards (wild, skip, reverse) but were varied in color.  This gave me 5 decks of cards total.  My groups then had 5-6 students per group and that was a decent number.

3) Rules for playing:  (You can do what you want, but here's how I ran it.)
  • Each student receives 5 cards and the deck is placed face-down in the middle of the group.  The first card is then turned over and faces up.  (The normal 7 to start seemed like too many to get a winner within a decent amount of time.)
  • Students can play either a like term card or a like colored card on their turn.  If they can't play, they draw ONE card.  (IF they draw until they can play, it may be a long time. :))
  • Skips and reverse cards only work for their given color and wilds work whenever.
  • When playing a wild card, a student must call out a like term, NOT a color to continue.
  • When a player has 1 card left, they must call Uno.  (Like the real game.)
  • The player who gets rid of all their cards first wins.
4) Once a team completed a game, I asked them to call me over.  I then chose 5 cards from the pile and asked them to write the terms as an addition sentence.  I provided a half-sheet of paper for this work.  I then asked them to simply their expression.  Once they did this, they could then play again.  Once someone won, they needed to do another addition problem.  (You'll see on the sheet that I had them pick 6 cards and then 4 cards another time.)

It took anywhere from 5-10 minutes to get a first winner.  We then kept playing for another 7-10 minutes and there were some winners, but not many.  I felt this went well and heard lots of "I love this!", "This is fun!", "I hope we get to do this again!".  I also heard, "You can't play that because x and x squared aren't like terms."  Isn't that what every math teacher wants to hear?  Correct content and fun at the same time.

Ideas for future/to change?
If I had time, I would have made a few more decks so groups could have been 4 students.  They are time consuming to make, but well worth it!
Maybe do more with the pulling out of cards to simplify and get answers for combining like terms?

Good luck - let me know how it goes via twitter (@tmaynard5) or email (tmaynard@zps.org)