Using Nintendo Wii Sports for Addition and Subtraction

We have had our Nintendo Wii in our class for about a week now and the children have been busy making their Mii avatars. They have truly engaged with it and seem to appreciate and understand the valuable role it can play in our class to have fun and support learning.

One idea I mentioned a few posts ago was that of using Wii Golf for addition, here are some more lucid thoughts and experiences of using it in the classroom.

Wii Golf Subtraction

We had 20 minutes at the end of the day so as whole class we talked about using Wii Golf to help with some subtraction work. The children have been doing the chunking division method (!) which requires them to use all four operations so more subtraction work was going to be valuable.

Look at mii golf!

Pic: Look at Mii golf!

I started up a quick round of golf and took a shot. I was expecting to get some information about how far the ball had gone and then subtract this from the total yardage for the hole.

Hole Length – Shot length = Distance remaining

However when you have taken a shot in Wii Golf it displays how much further you have to go. There is no information about how far you have hit the ball. Consequently we had to change our sum and I asked the children about how we could work out the shot length – it was a good teaching point. The children at this point had their own small whiteboards to do work on. Our agreed sum for Wii Golf would be:

Hole Length – Distance remaining = Shot length

Soon the children were busy on their boards and were immediately totally engaged with the task. That comes as no surprise to me – about 95% of the class have a Wii at home, this is what they enjoy being engaged with. The shots will always be 3 digits or less and in that way are perfectly differentiated for my year group.

Wii Baseball Addition

Whilst the children were having a break time my teaching colleague Rick and I had a little play on Wii Baseball and soon more ideas for supporting maths were being batted (sorry) around. If you go to the Practice in Wii Sports and then Baseball you get the chance to hit 10 pitches – on screen you receive information about how far you have hit the ball in metres, perfect for generating addition sums.

Nintendo Wii Baseball

Pic: Nintendo Wii Baseball

As a class I showed them what I wanted to do, hitting the ball and recording the length of the shot and then we worked on the addition to come up with the total metres. I asked children to come up and take 10 shots and we all then recorded as they went on our boards. If they didn’t hit the ball we just recorded the metres they did make. I soon discovered a baseball demon who hit about 6 home runs and 10 excellent shots. I asked the class to split the 10 numbers into two groups and then do 2 sums. Again the highest number was 187 metres, which is pretty good for a ten year old by the way, so the addition sums were ideally pitched to the Year 5 age group.

An added bonus was that after you have hit the ten shots the total length of the home runs are added up and displayed on the following screen. So if the children who were batting hit home runs we had to do a second calculation for home run length. i muted the projector display until we had done the calculation, modelled the work and then revealed the answer. 

As a whole class I was able to see on their whiteboard the work they had done and picked up quickly on errors with their method or setting out. However this could easily be done as a small group activity during a lesson. 

The children in that 20 minutes were happy, engaged, focused, on task and doing 3 digit subtraction and addition practice. It is important that we begin to realise the potential of these gaming platforms to support learning. I look forward to exploring more Nintendo Wii ideas soon.

  1. Hi, it’s good. Math games for means give parents and educators a method to teach children in a fun and enjoyable way. A variety of educational video games is available for the Way consol in a wide range of prices and recommended age levels.

  2. Just a quick report back on this. We’ve had the Wii for a week now and are loving it. Especially enjoying Wii Fit for indoor exercise. The kids are too young for the math you propose right now, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other ways they can learn with this amazing machine.

  3. Love how you are innovating with these tools. Wish I had them in my classroom….. guess I am going to ask for a wii in my school. They have to say yes don’t they?

    Keep on blogging. Your site rocks.

  4. Fantastic idea. I to have been using the Nintendo Wii to teach senior Physical Education in the areas of exercise physiology. By attaching kids to heart rate monitors and having them complete a sport simulation, say wii tennis then recording results and comparing them to the real sport you can get a really good idea of how exercise intensity and duration affect both the heart and respiratory rates

    I think the possibilities and applications of these programs are endless, i really like your thinking

  5. @Chris – You could look at average shot length on baseball, it shows the speed of pitch too which you could average out. Graphing of this data would be good too @jayerichards threw that idea in from Twitter.

    I have just thought – how about taking the average baseball hit and then drawing that line on some famous baseball grounds in the US using Google Earth? Or even see if your average hit could hit a baseball on the roof of Grand Central Station or over a famous river!

    @Jane @Bill Looks like Christmas will be fun!

    @EBD35 – Unless the Wii could somehow run the drivers for the IWB (unlikely) I cannot see a way to connect the board. Of course there is a way create your own hacked IWB with Wii remotes etc.

  6. Hi Tom
    I have been toying with the idea of using a Wii in my classroom but being a gaming console dunce I was wondering wht was available that could be used with my class. I love the ideas here and look forward to hearing more ideas. If I go down the same path I will certainly share my experiences too!
    PS. My daughter (14) is getting a Wii for Christmas but she doesn’t know yet – maybe I can have it during term time when she should be doing homework and study!!
    Cheers
    Jane

  7. This is a great idea! My biggest problem as a kid with math always was seeing practical uses for what I was learning. You’ve found a wonderful way of connecting Math to their world. Can’t wait for Christmas now. My own kids don’t know they’re getting one of these games.

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