Spend A Million



by Paul Brice

Paul is a math teacher at a junior high in Encinitas. He is also an avid tennis player and gardener.

Instructional Objective The learners will better understand how much one million dollars is and how this amount of money compares to the purchase price of common items.


Learners/Context Players should be in a 7th or 8th grade average ability math class.

The board game would be used as review or remediation in teaching players the value of one million dollars in everyday products and services.


Rationale Much of what is taught in a math class can be routine. A board game allows the instructor to provide practice in a particular content area without the drudgery of using a worksheet.


Equipment The following equipment is needed:

* a square game board

* 4 game pieces (dollar signs, each a different color)

* 5 stacks of game cards *Car, Entertainment, Food, Personal, and Big Bucks. (A complete game contains 10 Car cards and 30 each of Entertainment, Food, Personal, and Big Bucks cards.)

* 4 calculators (one per player)

* a standard 6-sided die

* record sheet and pencil for each player


Rules The object of the game is to reach the finish area with the least amount of money or having spent all of your money.

Place the board in the middle of the player area with the card stacks on their appropriate corner (shuffle each stack). The Car cards should be shuffled and placed off to the side of the board. Give each player a game piece, a record sheet and pencil, and a calculator. Players take turn rolling the die with the player rolling the highest number going first. The order of play then continues clockwise.

During each player's first turn, the top card is drawn from the Car stack. On this card is the first item this player (let's call her Sherril) receives. Sherril records the car type and price on her record sheet and subtracts the price from one million dollars. Sherril then rolls the die, moves her game piece the number of spaces on the die, and selects the top card from the appropriate stack. This card either gives or takes money from Sherril (usually takes). She records what the item is and adds or subtracts to her record sheet. Her turn is now over.

Play continues in this manner for each player. When a player is done with a card from one of the stacks, the card is placed face down at the bottom of its stack. The Car cards are used only during each player's first turn.

If a player lands on a Go Back space, they must move their game piece backwards to the nearest Big Bucks space and draw a card from that stack. When all players reach the finish area, the player with the least amount of money is the winner. If a player spends all of their money before reaching the finish area, that person wins and the game is over.


Design Process In deciding what content to use for the game, I searched for math skills that my students are weak in and that lend themselves to patterns. Combining like terms seemed like an appropriate topic. The decision to use seven different variables stems from my desire to only use coefficients between -5 and +5 (to keep the arithmetic simple). In order to have enough cards left for play after the hands were dealt out, I decided that seven variables producing 70 different term cards would allow a player to win a hand without the need to reshuffle the discard pile. Having the players search for two sets of 3 of a kind that "zero out" gives the learners practice at combining like terms while making for a short game involving a manageable number of cards to hold at one time.

                Record Sheet                      
          Items            Balance             
        Purchased          $1,000,000