Trying to find math inside everything else

Totally Radical

So I’ve been working on creating this board game, Totally Radical. (Tagline: Don’t Be a Square.) After some play-testing and adjustments, and bouncing ideas off of other teachers, I’m ready to post about it.

(But first, thanks to my co-teacher Sarah for helping come up with the game, my coworkers Cindy and Jenn and my Tweeps Max, Jami, and Jamie for playtesting.)

The idea behind the game came before I didn’t really have a good application for simplifying radicals. But I’ve been annoyed at how I see math games designed: do some math action and, if you are correct, you then get to do some game action. While this is certainly how some games work (like Trivial Pursuit), it just separates the math from the game and makes the math seem worthless. So I wanted a game where the math action WAS the game action.

You can read the rules of the game right here: Totally Radical Rules. During the game you have a choice of 5 actions: 3 involve actions we take when simplifying (breaking a number into two factors, taking a root and putting it outside the radical symbol, multiplying two terms together) while two are purely game actions (draw a card, play a special “Action” card).

Other touches of note: the factor cards are exactly half the size of the radicand cards, so that students break up “larger” numbers into “smaller” ones.

You can use factor cards on their own or combined into multi-digit numbers, like so:

(the top would be two factors, 2 and 5, and the bottom would be one factor, 25)
The numbers in the radicand cards are not just simple numbers. There’s prime numbers, composite numbers that can’t be simplified, perfect squares, as well as numbers that can be simplified (going all the way up to 250).

So, how can get this game, you may ask? Two ways!

Make It Yourself

If you want it for free, or are just in that #Made4Math mindset, you can print out the following files on card stock:

Prototype Factor Deck

Prototype Radicand Deck

Cut the cards out and label the backs. Print out the instructions (found here). You’ll also need to make a board: 4 big radical signs (I also recommend cardstock.) That might look something like this:

(I also drew in spots to put the card decks in).

Don’t want to make it or want the awesome one pictured above? Then go for option 2:

Buy It

I found this great website called The Game Crafter where you can send in artwork, pick out the pieces, etc, and they will print and construct the game for you. So if you click the button below, it should bring you to the shop to buy it.


Comments on: "Totally Radical" (10)

  1. Kevin Hall said:

    You say that when we cut the cards out, we should label the backs. What should we label them with? That part wasn’t clear to me. Cool game!

    • Good point. I was just label them with “Factor” and “Radicand” respectively. That’s how they are referred to in the instructions.

  2. Kevin Hall said:

    OK, I figured that since they were different sizes it wouldn’t be an issue. Thanks! Hopefully my family will buy me the real box set for Christmas or something.

  3. […] James showed us a board game he is creating on factoring radicals, and shared a company that creates the boardgames for you. It is called, and they will print your game, construct a box, and ship you the final product. Very cool. James has full instructions on the game on his site. […]

  4. Thanks for sharing this idea! My favorite game for simplifying radicals is a version of Sequence I made.

  5. I would LOVE if you would youtube someone playing (and maybe even making the game?)

    Sounds like such a great idea!!!

  6. zyro manzanilla said:

    this game is awesome

  7. zyro manzanilla said:

    how did you come up with it?

  8. […] board game I created last year (and you can also make your own free following instructions here, or buy at the above link). In this game, the game actions were designed to match up with math […]

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