Using Battleship to Play Math Games: Education Through Fun

Updated August 6, 2021
Board game Battleship

Battleship is a strategy game focused on eliminating opponents' ships off of the board before they take out yours, but a secret undercurrent of the game is its unique connections to fundamental mathematic concepts. Battleship math games offer kids the chance to apply theoretical concepts in a practical way while keeping their attention thanks to the competitive game play. Take a look at how teachers can integrate Battleship curriculum into their math units and how parents can support their children's education using Battleship-inspired games at home.

Battleship and Mathematics Theory Collide

Playing games in the classroom is especially helpful for kinesthetic and visual learners, and Battleship requires students of all ages to practice thinking and problem-solving skills that are critical to understanding mathematics. For the youngest players, it is a game of memory, logic and strategy, and for the more experienced players, it gives a look into complex probability ratios.

Hand sketch sepia battleship game on sea

While playing the game, children become familiar with the following:

  • Grids
  • Columns
  • Rows
  • Points
  • Graphs
  • Ordered pairs

By having a classroom game day once a week and playing games like Battleship together, many teachers find that their students become more enthusiastic about math. Because children all learn inherently differently, and there's a lot of fear about learning math, math games can help them to enjoy the process and be more open to absorbing the information.

Online Battleship Games to Play

Whether you have access to online tools in your classroom or want to reinforce mathematics with your child at home, online versions of Battleship are a quick and fun way to give kids some extra math practice. Requiring only an internet connection, these free games are perfect for kids of all ages, and even adults too:

  • Strategy Ships - This online version of Battleship has great graphics for a free game, delving into a 3-D view of the grid where you can watch the ships themselves shoot off their missiles at the opposing side's ships. Overall, it's easy to navigate setting up your six ships and then attacking on the board, so older elementary school-aged kids should have no problem using it.
  • Battleship Game - This minimalist approach to battleship takes the details out of the game and presents a simple, color-coded 2-D version of the game. Great for kids who are easily overwhelmed with a lot of graphics and easy to use, this is another digital battleship tool you can use at home and in school.
  • Advanced Battleship - Multiply your ships by the dozen and take it back to the historic high seas and you've got yourself this online version of the classic game. Given that there are greater number of ships to manage and hit, this game is perfect for kids with more experience strategizing and patience predicting probability.

Other Types of Math Practice Using Battleship

There are other types of mathematics concepts that students can practice while playing Battleship games. Math requires the types of problem-solving skills that students naturally use when playing the game.

Find lesson plans that use Battleship at:

  • At Danielle's Place the Battleship game is used to review number problems. There are several games on this page so scroll down.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers has a large list of mathematics curriculum all based on the classic board game which you can purchase for a nominal fee. For example, one teacher has their custom Valentine's Day Battleship curriculum available on the website for $3.25 for the 30-page PDF.

How to Teach Algebra With Battleship Math

Two of the primary concepts that are taught when playing the Battleship game are plotting and naming points on coordinate grids. Playing Battleship will give students the firsthand experience needed to feel comfortable using the following techniques in the classroom and beyond:

  • X-axis
  • Y-axis
  • A point contains an x- and y- coordinate
  • Origin
  • Quadrants
  • How to locate a point
  • How to name a point

If you'd like a more traditional approach to integrating Battleship into your classroom curriculum, take a look at these printable Battleship sheets, which adds an extra step to every hit, making both children engaged in a game solve a mathematics equation before announcing if their ship has been hit. It's a great way to bring the fun of the board game into your classroom. For practice with one step equations, the Quia site has a Battle the One Step Equations game. The student sinks his opponent's battleships by correctly solving one step equations that utilize positive and negative integers.

U.S. Navy Capt. plays the board game Battleship with a kid

Other Games That Teach Math Concepts

Battleship is not the only game that teaches math concepts. At the most basic level, any game which requires counting, matching, or grouping helps children to learn and understand math concepts. Games of strategy and logic encourage problem-solving skills as well as build confidence in students, like these here do:

  • Chess
  • Monopoly
  • Checkers
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Dominos

Math Lessons Disguised as Break Time

Playing Battleship is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon, but it also comes in handy when you're needing to reinforce mathematics skills. Math is largely abstract, but playing games like Battleship helps to bring it into a more concrete focus for students of all ages. Whether you are using the classic board game, a pencil and graph paper, or an online version, Battleship will help your students or children master difficult math concepts with ease.

Using Battleship to Play Math Games: Education Through Fun