Differentiate Your Math Games: 7 Ways To Play Top It w/ a Freebie!

Do you love playing math games in your classroom as much as I do?!  I teach 90% of my math instruction in small groups, so games are a must! I think math games are one of the easiest ways to differentiate instruction within our math block, while making sure students are having fun, engaged, and working with hands-on manipulatives.  
In my classroom, one of our favorite games to play is Top It from the Everyday Mathematics program. My kids love it! We change the rules throughout the year so that the game becomes increasingly more challenging for my kiddos.

Top It is a two player game.  Essentially, it is the game of “war” that you played as a kid with playing cards! To play, you need at least two copies of single digit number cards.  Players put all cards face down in a pile. They flip over the cards and the player with the greatest value, sum, or difference (depending on the rules) wins all the cards from that hand. (The kids can use a dry erase board if they need a space to show their work.) Players continue until all the cards in the deck have been collected.  The player with the most cards wins the entire game! Then, students repeat and play again!

Today, I’m sharing 7 different ways for your students to play Top It! 
This version is perfect for kindergarten students who are learning how to identify and understand the value of numbers 0-9.  The player with the greatest number wins both cards for his/her pile! 🙂
This version involves not only comparing numbers but place value understanding, too. Each student flips over two cards. Players make the greatest number possible with their two cards. The player with the greatest two digit number wins all four cards for his/her pile!
Play this version the same way as the previous game, except with three digits! Students will practice placing numbers into the hundreds, tens, and ones place to make the greatest three digit number.  The player with the greatest number wins all six cards for his/her pile!
For this version, each play flips over two cards. Players add their cards together. The player with the highest sum wins all four cards.  Repeat, and play again! 
For subtraction top it, students should subtract the smaller number from the larger number. The player with the greatest difference wins!

Students will flip over three cards and add them together. The greatest sum wins that round and gets all 6 cards to add to his/her pile! Repeat until all the cards are used.
This version is great for the end of first grade and second/third graders. Students flip over four cards and create 2 two-digit numbers that they will add together. The player with the greatest sum wins all eight cards for his or her pile. 
You can click HERE to download the following number cards
 for your Top It games! You can also click on any of the pictures below. 
These cards would also be great to use for small group math work and whole class lessons.

Math games are an easy way to differentiate within your classroom – and they’re FUN! 🙂 
I hope you and your students have fun with all of these variations of Top It! 

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  1. I love all your ideas! We play different versions of Top-It all the time and my kiddos love it! They invented one called "Lightning Top It" where each players takes 2 cards, adds them together and then the first person to say the correct answer wins. This was great to get them motivated to learn those facts QUICKLY! ~ Lisa

  2. Thank you so much for sharing these games. I can't wait to use them with my Math SRBI group! I have purchased several of your products and LOVE THEM ALL. Thanks also for sharing the graphics for the number cards. I had been using playing cards with the face cards pulled from the decks, but these will be so much nicer for my students to use once I print them out onto cardstock.

    1. I make two sets of numbers for the game. The kids just pick their number off of the same center pile and flip them over at the same time. 🙂

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