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5 in a Row: An Ever-Changing, Self-Timed Game that Students LOVE!

5 in a Row math games

I moved down to 1st grade, from 3rd, this year to start a 3 year loop with my class.  I am very excited to try this out as my colleagues have had a lot of success with this model.  But, that change is a big change, especially in August.  I was trying to think of ways to practice number recognition as a review for my kids at the beginning of the year that were fun and engaging.  I knew we’d spend the entire year looking at numbers during our calendar time so I just wanted a fun review.  I also knew how much I love a brief reprieve in the classroom so I wanted a game that didn’t require me to be involved in every step along the way.  Our first 5 in a Row was reviewing numbers 0-20 the first week of school and I knew it was a hit!

Numbers 0-20 cover

I was so excited I was able to create a game that was self-timed, and changed every time we played.  I also loved that I could use those couple moments to clean up a table, organize a couple things, or sit for just a second to check my email. Those couple moments here and there throughout the day are so great for my mental mindset and to keep my stress levels down.  I figured out some new ways to use Powerpoint but because it was just Powerpoint it was super easy to use, and great when I left it for a sub.  And the best part is, the kids LOVED it!  They were all engaged in the game, were excited to participate, and begged to keep playing!  Because they loved it so much, I made more versions for number recognition and for other skills I knew we’d practice this year.

Numbers 0-120 cover

Here’s how 5 in a Row works:
You print the game boards and cut them into 3 strips.  (In some of the sets, especially the facts sets, the final, larger game has so many numbers that are being potentially played, so you can choose to give students all 3 boards to play and they’ve been designed to work fine that way.)  You can choose to laminate the boards, but I honestly never have because it’s just so much easier to print and cut each time, and I’m only using a few pieces of paper each time.  Laminating is definitely not one of my favorite teacher things so I only do it when I really need to.

Then, you open the Powerpoint.  You will be given a warning message about macros.  Yours might look slightly different depending on your version of Powerpoint.  But, on mine it gives me a security warning and says that the macros have been disabled.  You click the options tab.5 in a row macro warning

You must choose to approve the macros in order for the slide randomizer to work correctly.  This is the beauty of 5 in a Row! Using the custom randomizer means that every time you play, it’s a brand new game with new possibilities!

5 in a row macro enable

Once that’s done, you click to launch the slideshow.  It auto plays and the students find the number to cover on their gameboard.  A lot of the sets have numbers included more than once so there’s strategy in figuring out which of the numbers to cover at the time.  It’s secretly building some critical, higher order thinking skills, while students are having a fun time playing.  The game is self-timed, so it’s playing as you’re sitting down for just a second, or putting papers in mailboxes, or whatever you can squeeze in in those precious moments.Numbers 0-20 5 in a Row

Students yell 5 in a Row once they have covered 5 numbers in a row (pretty self explanatory, right?).  At that time I hit the “esc” key to exit the slideshow and am able to scroll back through the slideshow to check to be sure that the number has actually been played, which I  recommend to help keep students honest.  If we are playing another round, I pass out new gameboards (or if you laminated you can erase and reuse), click to randomize the slides again, and we’re ready to play again.  I love that it’s a brand new game each time with just the click of a button!  You can choose to have students shout out the number once they’ve figured it out, or not to keep students really practicing independently.

Here’s another quick video that shows how the game is played.

Because my kids loved playing it so much, I made a version to help us practice our addition and subtraction facts.

Add & Sub Facts 0-10 Bundle

Here’s a video of us playing 5 in a Row in our classroom.  It shows the screen side of things, but what is really the most amazing part for me is how quiet my room is because the kids are concentrating so much.  This is a video I posted of my kids playing, and you can hardly hear them!  With this bunch of kids, engagement isn’t often quiet, and this game gets them excited like nothing else we’ve done!

And here’s one of my students’ playing cards from that day.Subtraction Facts 5 in a Row

I’ve been sharing this video of us playing Addition 0-5 5 in a Row on my Facebook page since I took it and had a ton of requests for versions with multiplication and division.  After some time, I was able to get them made.  Just click the picture below to head to my store and check out the bundle.  The individual sets can be purchased separately as well.

Mult & Div Facts 0-10 Bundle

I also just posted another free game for identifying Fractions of a Shape.  I know how hard fractions always were for my third graders and I know they need practice in lots of different ways.

Fractions of a Shape cover

I’ll be continuing to create new versions of this game as we work through different skills in our room, and in response to your requests and the requests from friends.  I’ll keep this post updated as I add new versions.  You can also find all of the games in my TpT store here.

If you’re using 5 in a Row in your room, I’d love to hear what you and your students have thought of it in the comments below!

5 in a Row math game

Hi! I'm Tessa!

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