The Magic Castle



by Ann Adams

Ann teaches second grade at Longfellow Elementary School. She is married and enjoys bicycling and roller blading.

Instructional Objective The objective of the game is to reinforce subtraction using a board game format.


Learners/Context The game was designed with second grade Spanish l immersion students in mind which is why the instructions are in Spanish. By playing the game students will be reinforcing subtraction math facts from 1-12. Younger children, 5 to 6 years old, who have been introduced to subtraction could also play the game.

The board game would be used as review or remediation in teaching players subtraction skills.


Rationale I decided to use a board game so the children could practice their basic subtraction skills while being motivated by a game. By using a board game the students are reinforcing their counting, number recognition and subtraction skills by using a number line, recognizing the number of dots on the die and by counting the number of spaces they have to move their marker.


Rules One to four players can play. The game takes approximately 15 minutes to play depending on the number of players and the subtraction skill level of the players.

To choose who goes first, the players roll the die. The player who rolls the highest number goes first. The player who rolls the second highest number goes second, etc.

The first player rolls the die. The player then subtracts the number he/she rolled from the number that he/she is at on the board. For example, if the player is on the number 8 and rolls the number 5 he/she moves their marker 3 spaces because 8 - 5 = 3. The players can use the number lines on the sides of the board with a paper clip to help them subtract if they need help calculating.

The players continue playing the game in this manner. The player who arrives at the castle first wins the game.

Design Process I got the idea of throwing a die and applying it to subtraction from a page in the second grade math book. The page gives the students several blank math equations for the students to make up by throwing a die ( ____ - ____ ).

When the students do this page I need to emphasize that in the first blank space they need to write the numbers 6 through 12 in order to subtract correctly since the numbers on the die range from 1 to 6. Because of this, the numbers on the game board range from 6 through 12 so the players are able to subtract.

I decided to put number lines on the game board as a job aid. I thought the players who haven't memorized their basic subtraction facts could use them. This is also a good way to verify that the other players are subtracting correctly. I was going to make separate number lines and then decided there was enough room on the board to draw them. By including the number lines on the board this is one less game piece for the players to lose.

I got the design for the board in my file box of MacMillan art ideas. Every couple of months I receive a packet of art ideas which sometime include file folder games. I found three potential game boards and decided on this one because it was attractive and because it had more spaces on the board. I had to use white-out to remove the English words. The square on the lower-left-hand side used to say cards. I decided to write the name of the game there because I didn't know what else to do with this big-white square.

Actually writing the numbers on the board took some planning. First I had to decide how many of each number I was going to have. By doing some simple math I decided to have five 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s, and four 11s and 12s. I wasn't sure if I should make them loop around which would make some of them be upside-down or if they should naturally curve around and be right-side-up. I decided on the latter but not before I made a few mistakes as you can see by looking at the white-out on the board. I also didn't plan the number layout very well. You'll notice I have two number 11's together. I probably should of had one less 11 and one more of something else so I didn't come out with two of the same numbers together.

I made the markers from some little transparent chips I had. I put stickers on them to differentiate them. I devised these markers just so I would have something to turn in. I would eventually like to buy some little animal or people markers.

You'll notice that the directions I attached to the outside of the board are in Spanish. I did this so I could actually use the game in my room with my Spanish Language Immersion students.

I enjoyed designing this board game. I liked being able to pull ideas from different sources and bring it all together into one neat package. In my MacMillan file I have several file folder games that I have never implemented because I didn't like the way they were designed. After designing this board game I'm looking forward to "altering" these game designs so that they are better suited for use in my classroom.