Trashketball - My Favorite Review Game

01 March 2015

Hands down, my favorite review game is “Trash”ketball.  I have fun every time my students play it and my students LOVE it.  I’ve even had former students come by and ask me to teach their current teachers how to play it.  

Trashketball: My Favorite Review Game - keep kids excited and engaged, free download included |

I didn’t come up with this idea myself.  I totally stole it from Kate Nowak.  I’d love to link to the blog post where I originally saw it, but after some digging, I couldn’t find it.  I have played this game many times and have added my own spin and extra rules.

How to Play Trashketball

First, you need a bunch of worksheets that practice a desired skill.  I normally have 1-2 worksheets for each skill of the unit.  The game works best if you have about 10 worksheets.  The students will not get to all of the worksheets, that’s expected.  When I play Trashketball, I typically make my own worksheets.  They’re not pretty at all (sometimes it’s just photocopies of problems I have written on paper with a marker), but it doesn’t really matter.  If you don’t want to make your own worksheets, there are multiple places online where you can get free worksheets (I like Kuta).  Notice that all of the worksheets have a large letter at the top.  This is so that you can quickly differentiate between worksheets.  This game can get fast paced, so details like this are important.

Trashketball: My Favorite Review Game - keep kids excited and engaged |

Make a key for all of the worksheets.  I usually draw blanks for the students to write their answers on; it makes checking much faster for me.  Sometimes, I won’t check their individual answers, I just make them put the sum at the top of the page.  I like to write my answers in marker and staple all of the keys together.  I can check faster that way.  Do whatever will be quickest for you.

Trashketball: My Favorite Review Game - keep kids excited and engaged |

Make a zillion copies.  Yes, this game is a MAJOR tree killer.  That’s why I only play it a couple of times per year.  I’m sure there are ways to go around this.  Part of the allure of this game is that you get to throw wadded up paper.  When you make your copies, make them collated.  Then, when you pass out papers each student will get a different paper without any extra effort from you.

I also like to print a roster of my students so that I can keep track of which students have completed which worksheets.  I’ve found that this dramatically reduces cheating attempts, helps me keep an eye on students that may be struggling, and helps me identify superstars.  This is totally optional.

Trashketball: My Favorite Review Game - keep kids excited and engaged |

Set up trashcans and a “foul line”.  I have two trashcans, so I make one close for a “one-pointer” and one farther away for a “two-pointer”.  Sometimes I allow pre-approved trick shots for a “three-pointer”.  Trick shots I’ve allowed in the past include throwing it over your shoulder, throwing it with your non-dominate hand, and the whole class drumming on their desk to distract you.  Three-point shots can get rowdy, so know your class and your re-directing abilities.  :) 

Trashketball: My Favorite Review Game - keep kids excited and engaged |

Pass out a worksheet to each student.  Students will work on the worksheet.  When they are finished, they will come to you to check it.  

Check the worksheet.  I typically do not tell my students which problems that they missed, only how many problems they missed.  If the student missed any questions, they go back to their seat to figure out where they went wrong.  If the student is correct, they get to “shoot”.

Trashketball: My Favorite Review Game - keep kids excited and engaged |

I make the students keep score themselves.  I also tell them that if there is even an inkling of cheating, game play will stop immediately and the rest of the worksheets will be homework.  I have smaller classes, so I usually do two teams and have them keep score on the whiteboard.

One of the cool things about this game is that you can tweak the rules to fit whatever your students need.  You can have your students work in partners or work alone.  Students can be allowed to use their notes or have to do everything from memory.  There is no one certain way to play this game.

I played this when my students were practicing special right triangles.  You can download the worksheets that I used here and here.  The answer key is not included.  

You should try this game; it’s a blast!

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  1. Thanks for this idea. I'm trying it out tomorrow. About to go make my million copies : )

  2. Trix, how did it go? I love this game so much!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This sounds great! How many attempts do they get at making the shot?

  5. After my students complete a worksheet, I give a grade, but do not return it. (Ss know what they missed- I check it in front of them, they self check as a class, or whatnot. If a students made several mistakes that most students did not make- I return the paper for them to correct. Otherwise, I do a quick -"Here are some common mistakes I noticed." I teach Spanish one, so a few mistakes are normal.) Anyway, I then place the paper back into the printer and use the other side. Student may end up with another student's work on the back, and sometimes they read the name, but there are not too many marks on them, and it's usually an old paper, so no one really cares too much. I also use columns and make mini practices on 1/4 of the sheet. It looks like you have just a few problems, so 1/4 sheets, and printing on both sides will make a big difference in a year. I don't feel guilty about not returning simple practice, b/c IMHO, students get off task/distracted when I pass back papers, and just recycle them right away anyway. Ss are aware of mistakes made when we check work as a class. Thanks for posting your game!

  6. This is a great idea! I thought of a tree saving idea....just place the worksheets in sheet protectors and have the students write their answers on notebook paper. I can't wait to use this idea. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Perhaps a greener alternative could be having a box of balls that can be tossed, and then students can be required to accurately complete a certain number of task cards (3-5) before they get to shoot.

  8. I've also played this game reusing the same paper from recycling (have 2-4 "balls"). Two teams, each team gets a chance to answer a math fact (flashcards work great for this). If they answer correctly, they get a point (track score on whiteboard)and can shoot for an extra point. If answered incorrectly, the other team gets a chance to "steal" the point if they answer correctly AND make the basket.

    Hopefully that made sense...It's day 2 of my first year so my brain is fried!

  9. Love this game! I play this game with my students as well and they love it. My version is a little different, but I might try this way soon. Thanks!


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