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Playing Exponent War: An Exponent Activity for 6th Grade Math

Encourage Math Discussion With This Exponent Activity for 6th Grade Math

An Exponent Activity for 6th Grade or Middle School Math Class

exponent activity for middle school math

Looking for an exponent activity for  6th grade or middle school math students?

We played a little “exponent war” in our 6th grade math today, inspired by a couple of pins I saw on Pinterest.

I made a recording sheet, for each partner to record their exponential form and its value – you can download it by clicking the button at the bottom of this post:-)

How to Play Exponent ‘War’ 

1) Students play in partners
2) Each student gets half a deck of cards (if you keep the ‘face’ cards in the deck, assign a number value to them)
3) Each partner flips over 2 cards – the first is the base and the 2nd is the exponent
4) Students find the value of their exponential expressions
5) The student with the higher expressions ‘wins’ all the cards
6) Play continues until one player has won all the cards (or until time is up:-)

Using Calculators for This Exponent Activity?

I haven’t allowed the students to use calculators to find the values of exponential expressions up to this point, but… I did allow them to use calculators for this exponent activity, because some of the numbers end up being so large! (We used the jacks, queens, and kings as 11, 12, and 13.)

In my first class, students discovered that the calculator converted the values of expressions with large bases and large exponents to scientific notation.

In my other classes, I explained the basics of scientific notation to the students before they began the activity. I also suggested that they might want to stick with bases and exponents less than 9. (My students haven’t worked with scientific notation yet, but if they had, it would have been great to integrate that knowledge into the activity).

Having the choice to stay under 9 or to use those larger numbers was a great opportunity for self-differentiation!

playing exponent war in middle school math

The students really enjoyed the activity. It  was interesting to listen to their comments about how they knew which one was larger, before they actually calculated the values. They want to play a little longer tomorrow, so this was definitely a hit!

What is your favorite exponent activity for 6th grade or middle school math class?


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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