So I bought Monopoly this summer and started playing with my kids. When was the last time you played? In case you forgot, here’s a quick refresher: it takes a loooooooooooooooong time to finish. I mean, like it *really* does.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how I could use some of the Monopoly cards to teach students the algebraic concepts of Domain and Range.

For most properties, you just have to pay “rent” when you land there if someone else owns it. But recall that there are some special spaces where you can’t make “improvements” (houses and hotels), but where you still owe a chunk of money to the owner when you land there: 4 Railroads and 2 Utilities.

So here are some questions we can use with our students. Can you think of others? Please share in the comments.

1. When someone lands on a Railroad, how much money could they owe?

2. When someone lands on Water Works, how much money could they owe?

The reason I’m excited to try this activity with my students is that I think I can get them to produce a list of numbers *without* mentioning the terms “domain” and “range.” At the *end* of the activity, we can attach the appropriate terminology.

Plus, I might even bring in my actual board so we can do a few trials together. Rolled a 6? You owe $24. Oh, the dude owns both utilities? You owe $60. This could be fun and engaging for students.

Upgrade for Stats teachers: what is the *expected value* for the amount owed when someone has to pay the owner of the Electric Company?

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I like the idea of using Monopoly for functions… here are my quick ideas.

For the rent properties:

If I tell you someone landed on Boardwalk and paid $X, can you tell me what improvements they had?

If I tell you someone landed “somewhere” and paid $Y, can you tell me where they landed, and what improvements they had?

These questions get more at relation vs. function, and inverses.

Chris, thanks for chiming in. Your ideas are awesome! I love it.

I feel as though I can get a *ton* of algebraic momentum from this little board game…

This is a great idea!

I was thinking of starting by playing a few rounds before asking the questions.

Students would play a few “modified” rounds where you can only land on the next railroad or utility instead of any other properties. Explore several turns so the brain actually engages with using domain and range in context.

Then ask the questions about how much they would owe for different examples. As they talk about their answers, loose definitions/explanations would begin to surface, then attach appropriate terminology as you mentioned.

This is a very creative way of getting students to think about concepts such as domain and range. My first thoughts go to using the game as a tool to teach probabilities.

What are the odds of finding a ‘get out of jail free card’ when you land on Community Chest?

If you are x number of spaces away from “Go directly to jail,” what are the odds that you will land there?

What is the probability of obtaining both Park Place and Boardwalk? Or all of the red properties, etc? I think for this, you would need to know the frequency of landing on each space, though that info can be found and provided.

Or, create more complicated algebraic word problems to work through, such as: How many laps of the board would you need to pay off rent on a Boardwalk hotel, assuming you own a house on (and someone lands on each of) Baltic, Connecticut, and St. James, and you collect $200 for passing Go.

You could come up with all sort of hypothetical math questions.

Thanks for suggesting Monopoly as a math tool. It makes you think of it in a whole different way!

@Shaun: like the ideas re: linear functions and probability. Thanks for commenting!