Crocodile Dentist

I get great review game ideas just browsing toy stores (and way way too many games). Crocodile Dentist was born this way. The game is sometimes hard to find, but seems to currently be available on Amazon.*

Gameplay is in groups, and nearly identical to Danger Cards, a review game I wrote about earlier. But in this one the croc is the star of the show, although the kids still do lots of math.


Set Up

You will need the crocodile (obviously) as well as the Keynote presentation I use for the classes. I also print out worksheets for each round. Below is also the link to the Pages worksheet set I made for the lesson I ran this week. Most of the problems are snapped from Sullivan's Algebra with Trigonometry book.

Download Keynote
Download Pages WS


Game Play

Here are the rules straight from the presentation that I share with the kids, I've added a bit of extra explanation as well.


At this point I jump immediately into the math by having the students work through the first page of questions. Teams hand in their worksheets as soon as they are done. Once most of the teams have handed in their sheets I cajole the final team into turning in theirs. During this part of the game I usually wander around the room making sure everyone is participating.

Once all the sheets are turned in I score them really fast and we discuss any questions that seemed universally unclear. I remind the kids before the game begins that this is primarily about review. Each team gets points for each right answer. The team with the most points goes first in the Croc Round and then play continues clockwise from group to group. (I've tried other turn systems but this seems to be the easiest for me to not mess up during the game.)


The Dentist Round works exactly as described on this slide. This is always intense because the winner of the round will nearly always be suspenseful, although the teams who were successful on the problems will have an advantage. To keep everything moving I usually only let one kid at a time come up to the table where the croc is.


The bonus round immediately follows the dentist round. The winning team plays for candy.


The round is nearly always a blast, because over and over again kids will take "one too many trips to the well" and not get any candy! It's hilarious. Further, if they manage to push four teeth successfully I usually start offering them deals encouraging them to press their luck (and get eaten) good times.

And that's it. Once the candy round is done we jump into round 2 and repeat. If you want you can keep score and have a grand champion at the end, I sometimes do this but it's not really needed. At the end of class I direct students to a Google Doc where they can access all the problems and solutions for additional review. This review game is a blast. If you give it a shot in your classroom let me know how it goes.

Links to are affiliate links when reasonable.

Danger Cards Remix

The other day my seniors, who are reviewing for their IB exam, wanted to play the Danger Cards game for a review session. I told them they if they made it, we could play it. Here is what I did.

danger pic 1

I quickly reformatted my Keynote slideshow to a Google Doc Presentation. The Danger Cards presentation is not fancy or anything anyway so nothing was really lost in the transition. I retitled the question slides with student's names and added blank answer slides after each question slide. Each student was responsible for creating one question slide and completing the subsequent answer slide. At this point I shared the Google Presentation with everyone in class giving everybody edit rights.

I told students that the slide deck needed to be finished by the night before we were going to play the game in class so that I would have time to choose the final set of questions we would use. They were also on the honor system not to cheat and study the questions (or more importantly the answers) their peers had written.

danger pic 2

Although the questions the students came up with were not in any way earth shattering, and the formatting of the slides was not as beautiful as it could have been, for a lesson developed in less time than I have spent writing this post about it, it was definitely a success. Students also had a solid bank of questions and answers (including many we did not get to use in class) that they could use for additional review.

Here is a link to a Google Presentations version of Danger Cards you can make a copy of and use with your classes if you want to try this activity out. Check out the original Danger Cards post for more details about the game.

The Pyramid Game

The other day, in a post about the lately very funny Family Feud, Dan asked

«Which game show works in the other direction, giving you lots of items and asking you to move one level of abstraction higher to the category that includes them?»

There are probably multiple answers to this question, but the most obvious answer to me is the bonus round from the $100,000 Pyramid, known as The Winner's Circle.

The game is best learned by watching a few You Tube videos (of which there are hundreds). But here are the basics. There are two primary players. One player gives the clues to six subjects of increasing difficulty and the other player is trying to guess the subjects that those clues fit into. The clues must be in the form of a list of items that fit the subject or category. So if the subject was salad dressings the clue giver could say «French, thousand island, or Italian» but they could not describe the category saying something like «It's what you put on a bowl of leafy vegetables.»  The clue giver is also not allowed to use charades, synonyms, or prepositional phrases. So, for example, for the category «Things that are quiet» «moviegoers» would be a permissible clue, but since «people at a movie» is a prepositional phrase it would get you buzzed. It's fussy sure, but that is what makes it great.

I have used The Pyramid Game as an occasional segment in my classroom since my first year of teaching. At the beginning it was very rudimentary:

Before I had a projector I played the game by holding up big index cards. I apologize about the Word Art. I was young.

Before I had a projector I played the game by holding up big index cards. I apologize about the Word Art. I was young.

The first time I played this game in class there was no YouTube so I actually spent a few days video-taping Winner's Circle segments at home, signed out a TV cart at school, and showed some clips during class. Today I would probably flip the introduction part and have kids watch a couple of the YouTube clips beforehand and then maybe show one more in class.

Click through for the clip. Great one because Billy Crystal is the Pyramid master. And because Dick explains the rules as well. This video seems to load slow, so cue it up ahead of time.

Click through for the clip. Great one because Billy Crystal is the Pyramid master. And because Dick explains the rules as well. This video seems to load slow, so cue it up ahead of time.

Students play in pairs and while only two students play at a time it is easy to get the entire class involved because, especially at the beginning, hardly anyone will win the game! After the group loses everyone else can chime in with the clues that were missed in the heat of the moment. The harder subjects can really get you thinking. A great strategy is to try to approach the category from multiple different directions. If the category was «Things that you join» you could try the obvious «a club» and then also «pieces of wood» (yes «of» is a preposition, but it is allowed).

There are a whole series of videos showing what not to do in the Winner's Circle. Great for teaching the game.

There are a whole series of videos showing what not to do in the Winner's Circle. Great for teaching the game.

Here is one of the first slide deck iterations. A student came up with the category pictured.

I thought this was pretty good at the time!

I thought this was pretty good at the time!

You can also tailor the game to your classroom. I am going to use this game at the end of class a couple days this week, so I will include categories like «Facts about the Unit Circle» and «Trig Identities.» The frequent TV show categories similar to «What Goldilock's Might Say» are also great for classroom use, «What Mr. Roy Might Say» is also usually a hit. Just like on Family Feud and Dan Meyer's clip if you open the door to racy responses the students will run right through it, you have been warned.

Students initially find this game extremely challenging, but also grow to really enjoy it (You might need to play it a couple times to appreciate this). I have had students get so enamored with the game they devise their own clue sets for classmates to try. They frequently go for the ludicrous «Things a Vegetarian would not Eat», «Bad Jokes», or the impossibly difficult «Words that Rhyme with Orange», «South Dakota towns» etc.

Dan's post inspired me to touch up my Keynote* slide deck so that it looked more like the classic TV show from the 80's and so that it would also be as easy as possible for someone other than me to use in class. The deck I am posting here has five rounds ready to go. There are also a few template slides at the end explaining how to easily customize the game for your classroom. Finally, I added a rules slide at the beginning to explain the game, but definitely show them some clips from TV as well.

Here is a screenshot of the latest iteration. Click through to download the Keynote slide deck.

Here is a screenshot of the latest iteration. Click through to download the Keynote slide deck.

*In a perfect world I would program this in Flash, but for the time being a slide deck works pretty well, you will just need an additional timer, and you can't really go back if the students pass on a subject.

Gator Golf

I love review games. Occasionally in high school I got to plan review games for my classes and it was awesome (I know, I know I am wicked lame) Anyhow, I think I first heard of using Gator Golf for a review game from the book Rookie Teaching for Dummies but I can never leave well enough alone so here is my twist on it.


Divide the kids up into four teams -do this any way you see fit. Give each team a portable whiteboard to write down their final answers, along with scrap paper and golf pencils (obviously) to make notes if necessary. You will also need to get the Hasbro game Gator Golf. I also went to Home Depot and got some putting green carpet, and some tees and a putting glove at a golf store, you could probably make due without these but I love little details. Dividing class into groups and giving each group a whiteboard is a strategy I use again and again for many review games and it works pretty well.

The Game

The game is played in multiple rounds

Round 1:

This round relies most heavily on the keynote presentation (see link below). In round 1 there are 16 multiple choice questions (the questions I included are all about trigonometry). When a question is revealed each team answers it on their whiteboard and then "locks in" the answer by flipping their board upside down. Once three of the four teams are locked in I cajole the last team into finishing as well. At this point the answers are revealed. The team in «control» reveals their answer first followed by the rest of the teams. If the team in control answers correctly they score a tee, if not, the next clockwise team has a chance to steal, etc. After each question is finished control passes to the next clockwise team around the room, the team in control is indicated by the location of the alligator in the slide deck.

Golf Round:

After the 16 questions are up I tally the tees that each team earned to determine each team's golf position. Sort of like in Hole In One on The Price Is Right (another post for another day) The team with the highest score gets to putt closest to the gator (but not too close). I usually wait until after the scores have been tallied to reveal the gator which always goes over very well. Prior to this just the green is on the floor and so the kids' curiosity is piqued. Everyone gets one putt, they score one point for hitting the gator at all, and three if the gator devours and spits out their ball. It is really important to allow the kids to have some fun golfing while also not getting so bogged down in the golfing part that no additional math gets done. If you move swiftly you should be able to get through the golfing business in no more than 7 minutes or so. If your class is enormous, you might want to have only half of each team golf during round one.

Yash lines up for a put.

Yash lines up for a put.

Round 2:

Each team gets a few minutes to peruse the longer form questions from the round two document (included in the zip file) then I have the teams in reverse order of score select a question (or two based on time) that they want control of. After this selection each team gets a few minutes to work together on their questions and write up solutions on the classrooms whiteboards (not the mini ones) for everyone else to see. If teams have extra time they can try to solve the questions their team did not select in hopes of stealing another teams questions. Once time is up I score each question, one putt per correct answer and we golf once more. This golfing round goes much more quickly since there are a maximum of 10 puts, probably much less.

Final Round:

If there is time, I will have teams wager part of their score on one final putt. To determine the grand champion.

I actually didn't give any of the teams any prizes for winning the golf game this year, just the glory of being champions. Candy would work fine but is not really necessary, I would certainly advise against giving any sort of bonus points as a prize.

Other Thoughts:

I hadn't played this game in a few years, since the first gator met his demise, but I saw a new release of Gator Golf recently and picked up a copy. The game takes a bit of work to set up but always goes over very very well. I love tweaking rules and things so am always changing the games around to try to make them better. This time for example I had red tees and white tees mixed in my golf hat and when teams scored a point during round 1 they drew their tee out of the hat, red tees counted double. 

Whatever you do with the rules be sure to tell the kids what they are ahead of time and stick to them, kids go crazy when you change the rules in the middle of a game. Also during round one don't hesitate to stop the game and "go over" the tricky problems. This is a review game after all.

I wish I could stage shots like this.

I wish I could stage shots like this.

Files: This file includes the Keynote slideshow I used for round one. Lately when I am making a slideshow for a game I create a Pages document with all the questions to begin with so I have included that document as well. I also included a copy of the Round 2 questions. These are both in PDF form also. The questions for this game are all about Trigonometry covering through trig equations but the game can easily be adapted for most other topics. 

*If I link to something for sale on Amazon it will most likely be an Amazon Affiliate link. Maybe someday these will pay for the blog (but as of this writing I have a click through rate of 0, which is not surprising because this blog is brand new, but anyway)