With children at home for a large chunk of the past year, parents have had to step into teaching roles, and teachers have had to conjure up new methods to reach their students online.
Game-based learning is a proven technique that helps to retain attention, crucial when faced with a tricky online environment. Learning through games also reduces anxiety, increases engagement and promotes involvement for children of all abilities. Encouraging interaction allows those who have weaker skills to learn from their peers without holding back those who are ready to pick up concepts more quickly.
The game you choose to supplement your teaching is crucial; it needs to offer the right balance of learning and fun. Roulette is a perfect option, and there are several online roulette games where you can practice your skills first!
But how can you use roulette to promote learning with numbers? Here are a few ideas.
Adding, Subtracting and Multiplying
While children cannot gamble with real cash, you can help them to practice their numeracy skills by “betting” on the roulette wheel. You can either use basic buttons or counters, or if the children are old enough to understand money, you could use play banknotes or coins. (Of course, if they don’t know how money works, you can also use the roulette wheel to teach them this!)
Given a personal "budget", children choose how much they want to bet on each turn. As they win or lose, they will need to add or subtract their tokens, enabling them to practice core numeracy skills in an entertaining way. Children who are developing their multiplication, or even long multiplication, can learn more about odds and how to calculate what their potential winnings would be.
Fractions can be a difficult concept for children to grasp because you're dealing with numbers that are less than one. Pizza or cake slices is the traditional way to teach fractions, but you need something more to go beyond the basics.
The roulette wheel is the ideal companion for fractions as it’s already neatly sectioned into individual pockets. If you use the American roulette wheel rather than European, you’ll also be able to use it to teach simplification of fractions as there are 38 pockets rather than 37.
By using a game of roulette, you can show different types of fractions. With the visual representation of what 3/38, 10/38 or 30/38 look like (as examples), children will start to understand how to interpret the numbers presented in fraction form.
Children will love to discover that they are secret fortune-tellers. Without even realising it, every day, they subconsciously make predictions about what might happen. For example, choosing clothes to match what they think the weather will be or picking a seat in the school cafeteria based on where they believe they will have the most fun.
This may just sound like regular life choices, but in fact, it's all about probability. How likely is it that something will happen? Probability is how it's measured - and a roulette wheel can help demonstrate this in practice.
Children can be shown that every number on the roulette wheel has a 1/38 chance of landing (using the same American wheel - it’s 1/37 for a European wheel). Every time the wheel is spun, each number has the same chance of winning. However, when the wheel is only spun a few times, the results may seem to be skewed. Introducing the concept of the Law of Large Numbers teaches children that the more times the casino wheel is spun, the greater the chance of the results looking more like the probability you expect.
Probability is an abstract idea and one which can be tricky to properly comprehend. The roulette wheel introduces the subject in an accessible way, and it's easy to spin lots of times to test out the theory on large numbers.