I don’t remember when I first came across this game — I suspect it was during a Math Solutions Summer workshop week. For certain, it is included in several of the multiplication resources Math Solutions publishes, including the Third Grade Month-by-Month resource.
It is empowering to find a game that children can just pick up and play. Circle and Star uses only a dice and a piece of scrap paper. Sometimes I get creative/fancy and use some wooden cubes that I have numbered from 5 to 10 so when the children play the game they’ll have some larger numbers to work with.
So here’s what we do:
1. Roll the die once. The number that comes up is the number of circles you need to draw on your scrap paper.
2. Roll the die a second time (or alternatively, roll the 5-10 die). The number that comes up is the number of stars to be drawn in each circle.
3. Write the resulting multiplication fact as number of circles times number of stars in each circle. Compute the product.
When we begin playing this game, I have students write the resulting multiplication fact 3 different ways:
NOTE: C = number of circles, S = number of stars
C groups of S equals Product
C S’s = product (use the number words)
C x S = Product
The students always are looking for this game on our Daily Five Math board. We both like it – the kids because it’s fun, and I like it as a way to keep students practicing those important multiplication facts.