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Fun and Effective Math Review Games: Bucket Problems

If you’re looking for fun math review games and an engaging math review activity, Bucket Problems is your answer. Whether you're looking to review for a chapter test, a unit test, a midterm exam, a final exam, state testing, or PSAT/SAT, this math review activity works with them all!

Bucket problems is just what it sounds like... you cut up problems into individual strips of paper and put them in a bucket for students to solve. If you teach students who struggle with math, being handed an entire review packet is completely overwhelming and very unlikely to get finished. With Bucket Problems students are able to focus on just one problem at a time which reduces math anxiety and helps students feel accomplished.

For the Bucket Problem math exam review game all you’ll need is a worksheet, chapter test problems, final review guides, SAT released questions, or state exam released test questions along with the answer key, scissors (for you), and a bucket.

Math Review Game Preparation

1. Print your worksheet, chapter test problems, final review guides, SAT released questions, or state exam released test questions

2. Cut each problem into its own strip

3. Place all the strips in the bucket

4. Post the answer key above the bucket for students to self check

Here's a helpful image to help you visualize this math exam review...

How to Play the Math Review Game

The objective is to finish as many problems as you can in the time allotted. I recommend no more than 20 minutes to keep engagement up. Here are the rules you’ll want to explain to students:

1. With students in teams, select one student to be the “runner” for their team. Pro tip: I like to just assign it to all “seat 3’s” to save time and create less confusion.

2. The runner is the only student who can get out of their seat during the game

3. The runner comes to the bucket, gets ONE problem, and returns to their team

4. The team members all work individually to solve the problem on their own paper or white board, they can ask teammates for help or clarification, and they check their answers with each other and come to agreement

5. Once the whole team agrees on one answer, the runner checks the answer with the answer key. If they were correct, the runner returns the problem to the bucket and gets ONE new problem from the bucket, repeating the process.

6. If their answer was incorrect, the runner returns to their team and team members try to find the error. They can raise their hands and ask the teacher for help if no one on the team can find an obvious error. They correct the error, the runner returns the problem to the bucks and gets ONE new problem from the bucket, repeating the process.

To Wrap Up

The bucket problem strategy boosts student retention by incorporating problem solving, teamwork, and self-checking. It also keeps math anxiety low by helping students focus on just one problem at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Students love the competitive nature of the game and usually try to be the team to finish the most problems, however it’s important that you’re encouraging students to be patient with team members so the focus is not on speed, but understanding.

I hope you love this game as much as my students and I do! Got a question about bucket problems? Head over to instagram and send me a DM! I’m happy to help!

And if you teach students who struggle with math don't forget to grab your FREE copy of my PDF guide, 10 Powerful and Easy Math Intervention Strategies!

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