Yoikes! – a classroom maths game

I first came across this game some thirty years ago when I was shown it by Stephen Froggatt a former maths teacher.

The students need to have a set of ten boxes about a centimetre squared each with an eleventh box, a bit larger, off to the right. I used to generate sheets to stick in the back of their books but most pupils got very quick at doing this!

Yoikes! sheet for pupils

“Yoikes!” sheet for pupils

The game works by someone somehow generating two digit numbers. Each time, the students have to write the number into their grid. The aim is that after ten goes they have magically placed them in numerical order from left to right. Obviously, this doesn’t happen very often, so every time they¬†cannot fit a number into the grid they must put it into the ‘bin’ on the right. A score of two in the bin is not too bad. Depending on your class, you might allow students to express their mild irritation at putting a number in the bin by saying “Yoikes!” at an appropriately subdued volume; this of course never works!

I had two large metal dice one 0-9 and one 00-90 which I used for many years until they went astray in a house move; pupils were obviously keen to use my special “Yoikes!” dice! You could use a 100-sided die or various electronic options. More recently I had two ten-sided dice on my IWB “Yoikes!” page which was quick and easy if less fun and interactive.

There is excellent potential for revision of numerical properties of these randomly generated values as the game progresses, depending on the age of the pupils, such as odd and even, times tables, squares & cubes, factors & multiples and primes. The filling of the grid offers up good discussions of randomness, likelihood and probability; there are always students who try to buck the odds each time and of course lose out in the long run.

Finally there is a special “Russian Roulette” version of the game with just two boxes…

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