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I've been teaching high school math for over 20 years. I write about my experiences here and also share activities that I have done with my classes that have been successful (and some that have been not so successful).

Math Review Game "Trashketball"

Trashketball is a fairly well-known math review game. You may have already played it. Maybe you played it when you were a high school student!

I first heard about Trashketball over 20 years ago from a colleague who had learned about it from a teaching conference. At that time I had been playing Jeopardy in my classes regularly. But I didn't love Jeopardy because of the speed aspect.  Read more about why you should not reward speed in a math class.

With Jeopardy, the first team to give me a correct answer was awarded the points. But with Trashketball, every team gets a chance to answer the question and then throw a ball (or wad of paper) in the trashcan (or an empty box) to earn more points.

Check out my related post: 5 Engaging Math Review Games that Don't Require the Internet

I have probably made at least one hundred Trashketball games over the years. Or actually, I have probably tweaked the same 50 versions multiple times. πŸ˜„

Spoiler, I'm giving away one of my Trashketball games for free. Scroll to the bottom to get your copy!

Scroll to the bottom of this page to get this for free!

One year, instead of throwing a ball into a box, we did mini golf. I had a team teacher who loved golf. In the industrial arts class, a student had made the team teacher a mini golf putting ramp with a 90-degree turn in it. When a team got a question right, they would try to putt the golf ball in the hole for extra points. I think I called it Golf Review Game during those years.

Suggested Rules of Trashketball

●Use a trashcan or an empty box as the “goal”.

●Use a Nerf ball or a wad of paper as the “ball.”

●Put 2 lines of painter’s tape on the floor marking the “1-point line” and the “2-point line.”

●Put the students in groups of 2 or 3.

●A group chooses a problem.

●Each group works on the problem at their own pace. There is no reward for the fastest team.

●One member of each group shows the teacher the answer. (Students should not shout out the answers.) If the answer is correct, the group gets 1 point and gets the opportunity to “shoot” from either the 1-point line or the 2-point line.  So a group can earn up to 3 points on one question.

●Students only get one opportunity to show their answer to the teacher.

●The teacher keeps track of the points for each team on the board.

☆Tip 1: assign each group member to be player A, player B, and player C. Teacher then rotates which player comes to show the answer.

☆Tip 2: the students often like to come up with fun team names. Give them a theme such as Ice Cream Flavors, Animals, Sports Cars, Disney movie, etc.

πŸ•’The game can take about an hour to play.

How to Make a Trashketball Game in PowerPoint

*I'm using Microsoft 365 on a PC. I also have a Macbook that has Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac.

✓Open PowerPoint and start with a "Title Only" slide.

✓Add as many "Title Only" slides as questions. You will use the first slide for the "main slide". Make this the first slide of the presentation.

Choose the Title Only slide for all of your slides. For the questions, but the question number in the "title."
This will make the hyperlinking process easier.

✓For each question slide, be sure to put the problem number in the "title" of the slide. This will make the hyperlinking part easier later. 

Only "1" is in the title of the slide. The instructions, "Determine if the following...." are in a separate textbox. 

✓Add your questions and answers. One question per slide. Animate the answers so that they appear "on click" (in other words, the answer will appear when you press either the space bar, the right arrow key, or the Enter key on your keyboard).

✓After you add the questions, go back to the first slide and create several textboxes with numbers that correspond to the question number (see below).

This is the "main slide".

✓Add a hyperlink to each textbox to take the user to that problem number. In other words, the textbox with "5" in it, should hyperlink to the slide where question 5 is. This part can be time-consuming, but once you have done it once, you can make a copy of the PowerPoint and change the questions for a different topic.

⇒To add the hyperlink, choose the textbox that you want to link, right-click, then choose "Link" (or "Hyperlink" depending on which version of PowerPoint you're using). On the left side of the pop-up menu choose "Place in This Document," then choose the slide that you want to link to. (On a Mac, choose "This Document," then choose the slide you want to link to.)

✓On each question slide, you will need to add an icon that will be hyperlinked to the main page. I prefer to use the icon of a house which you can find under Insert > Shapes then scroll all the way to the bottom to find the Action Buttons. You can change the color of the house icon!  I suggest you add the icon, add the hyperlink, then copy and paste the icon to all of the slides or add it to the Slide Master.

✓If you want to give a reward for the winning team (stickers, candy, bonus points, homework pass, etc), prepare for that.


If you have a class of students with a wide range of abilities, then the one-question-at-a-time aspect may turn off the slower students (because they don't have time to finish) and may turn off the faster students (because they don't want to wait for the slower students), then you may want to try this variation:
  • Give all of the students all of the questions at once (you can just print the question slides from your PowerPoint presentation and make one copy per group).
  • Groups work at their own pace.
  • When a group has an answer to the question, they show the teacher.
  • If they get the question right, they have the chance to “shoot” from either the 1-point line or the 2-point line.
  • If the group gets the question wrong, they return to their group and try again.

Want a free copy of one of my Trashketball games? Scroll to the bottom of this page!


You may be interested in some prepared Trashketball Games I have:

πŸ‘‰Rational Expressions Trashketball 

πŸ‘‰Quadratic Functions Trashketball this one is FREE!

πŸ‘‰Exponents and Logarithms Trashketball 

πŸ‘‰Sequences and Series Trashketball 

πŸ‘‰Law of Sines and Law of Cosines Trashketball

πŸ‘‰Conic Sections Trashketball

πŸ‘‰Polar Coordinates and Graphs Trashketball 

Join me in my Facebook group. for upper high school math teachers.