Prime Climb is so mathematical that great questions are easy to create from the game. Teachers have used Prime Climb in the classroom with great success, especially with students in grades 3-8. Even without the game, you can use these images from co-creator Dan Finkel’s TEDx Talk to launch a conversation on how the colors relate to the number.
See, for example, these Prime Climb Activities from mathforsuccess.org, Rounds 1, 2, and 3.
Here are some lessons to try after you play Prime Climb with students. These lessons especially target Common Core Math Standards 3.OA.C.7, 3.OA.D.8, 3.OA.D.9, 4.OA.A.3, and especially 4.OA.B.4 & 6.NS.4, as well as Math Practices 1 and 7.
Prime Climb Instant Warmups
The image says it all. With that roll (6, 3), and a pawn on 48, questions beg to be asked:
- What is the largest number you could move to?
- What is the smallest number you could move to?
- Can you move to a red circle (a prime number bigger than 10)? If so, which ones?
- What are all the numbers you could move to on this turn?
You can make any or all of these a warm-up question, and it takes about a minute to generate a new problem: just place a pawn on the board, roll the dice, and take a picture.
- The largest number you could move to is 96, via 48 ÷ 3 x 6.
- The smallest number you could move to is 5, via 48 ÷ 6 – 3.
- You can move to 11 via 48 ÷ 6 + 3. It is possible to prove that you cannot move to any other prime greater than 10 without writing out a complete list.
- My list of moves is 5, 10, 11, 14, 18, 22, 39, 45, 51, 57, 96. Is it complete?
- Challenge students to get the most numbers they can. Notice how the colors can be used to check for divisibility from any given space.
The New York Times Puzzles
When Prime Climb first came out (and had a different name) it was featured in the New York Times.
Can you solve those original puzzles from the New York Times Numberplay blog?
- How can you get two pawns from 0 to 101 in four rolls (that’s eight numbers) without any number appearing on a die more than once?
- It’s possible to solve the last problem with the additional stipulation that three of your four rolls sum to the same number. Can you find out how?
- On what number do you have the highest chance of being able to get to 101 on your next roll? (You don’t have to use both dice rolls when you reach 101, though of course you may.)
- In the middle of a certain game, Katherine and I were down to a single pawn each. Hers was on 24, and mine was on a certain unnamed number. I rolled a little too forcefully, and the dice went off the table on her side.
“Ha,” she said. “If you had been at 0, you could have hit me.”
“Then I can hit you from where I am!” I said.
What number was I on?
See Numberplay for solutions.