# 7 Ways to use counters NOW!

**7 Ways to use Counters to build and increase fluency**

** **Counters are so widely available and a versatile resource! They can be used to represent a multitude of different things as well as often specially featuring in mathematical problems and games in their own right. Counters can be used in mathematics in a number of ways, for example to show patterns, to model our thinking or to keep track of moves.

This feature brings together EDUCATIONALLY RICH TASKS (low threshold – high ceiling) that require, to differing degrees, the use of counters. In some of these examples, they have been used as manipulatives to support children's mathematical understanding. The manipulation of counters helps to embed understanding of particular concepts.

It is a widely held view amongst educators that mathematical games have the potential to support children’s learning in mathematics.

Over three decades ago, Ernest (1986) put forward a rationale for using games in the mathematics classroom, suggesting that games could be used to teach a variety of mathematical ideas, and were perhaps particularly powerful for supporting children’s understanding of mathematical concepts; allowing for consolidation and practice; developing problem-solving skills; and, enhancing children’s motivation to engage in mathematics. In addition, it has been argued that opportunities to play mathematical games supports social skill development (Koay, 1996), encourages mathematical reasoning (Olson, 2007), allows for a differentiated approach to instruction (Buchheister et al., 2017; Trinter et al., 2015), and can be used to explore multiple connected mathematical ideas (Clarke & Roche, 2010).

Indeed, there is empirical evidence to suggest that games are efficacious for engaging students in mathematics learning (Bragg, 2007; Campos & Moreira, 2016) and improving student learning in mathematics (Bragg, 2012b; *Russo, Russo & Bragg *Bright, et al., 1985; Swan & Marshall, 2009), including for students in the early years (Cohrssen & Niklas, 2019; Elofsson et al., 2016).

A recent meta-analysis exploring the effectiveness of mathematical games across all levels of education revealed that games had a **medium positive impact on academic achievement compared with what were described as “traditional methods” of mathematics instruction, such as worksheets **(Turgut & Temur, 2017, p. 196).

**We offer TASK BUNDLES - check out our RED TASKS and BLUE TASKS.**

Many of our TASKS use counters. Here are **7 FREE TASKS that use Counters:**

Here are some **LINKS** to other **RESOURCES** and **REFERENCES** which may add value to your thinking and Teaching and Learning:

Bragg, L. A. (2007). Students’ conflicting attitudes towards games as a vehicle for learning mathematics: A methodological dilemma. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 19(1), 29–44.

Cohrssen, C., & Niklas, F. (2019). Using mathematics games in preschool settings to support the development of children’s numeracy skills. International Journal of Early Years Education, 27(3), 322-339.

Clarke, D., & Roche, A. (2010). The power of a single game to address a range of important ideas in fraction learning. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 15(3), 18-23.

Ernest, P. (1986). Games. A rationale for their use in the teaching of mathematics in school. Mathematics in School, 15(1), 2-5.

Olson, J. C. (2007). Developing students' mathematical reasoning through games. Teaching Children Mathematics, 13(9), 464-471.

Turgut, S., & Temur, Ö. D. (2017). The effect of game-assisted mathematics education on academic achievement in Turkey: A meta-analysis study. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 10(2), 195-206.

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