Every kid loves to prove the teacher wrong. With Counterexamples, they get to do this in a productive way, and learn appropriate mathematical skepticism and communication skills at the same time.
It is possible to play Counterexamples with kids as young as kindergarteners as a kind of reverse “I Spy” (“I claim are no squares in this classroom. Who can find a counterexample?”). What’s great, though, is that you can transition to substantial math concepts, and address common misconceptions. Counterexamples is a perfect way to disprove claims like “doubling a number always makes it larger” (not true for negative number or 0) or sorting out why every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. For older kids, you can even go into much deeper topics, like: “every point on the number line is a rational number.”
The language of counterexamples is crucial to distinguish true and false claims in mathematics; this game makes it natural, fun, and plants the skills to be used later. Counterexamples is also a great way to practice constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others (CCSS.Math.Practice.MP3).
You can play Counterexamples as an opening game, but the language of conjectures and counterexamples has the power to animate much deeper rich tasks in the classroom.
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