Math = Love: Ghosts in the Graveyard Game: Independent and Dependent Variables

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ghosts in the Graveyard Game: Independent and Dependent Variables

I recently played Ghosts in the Graveyard with my Algebra 1 students for the first time.  Maybe I should rephrase that.  I recently played Ghosts in the Graveyard with my students for the first time ever.  It's October, so the theme is appropriate.  Plus I needed a way to review dependent and independent variables after being out of school five days (three school days plus a weekend) for fall break.  

Ghosts in the Graveyard is a review game created by Kim Hughey.  She hasn't blogged in years and years, but she still has ton of awesome posts to look through on her blog!  Her blogpost has a great summary of how the activity works.  

I made eight challenge cards for my students to work through in pairs.  The sentences on these cards were taken from worksheets I found online.  This is the worksheet I stole from the most.  

Students were also given a sheet to write all of their answers on to be checked.  I found that this activity works best with students in pairs.

With this sheet, students were able to start with the challenge number of their choice.  I tried playing this game once without a recording sheet like this, and it was quite chaotic. 

After each pair would finish a challenge, they would bring it up to my desk to be checked.  Since each challenge had three different questions, one of two things would happen.  I would tell them that they were all correct and give them a ghost to place in the graveyard, or I would tell them the number of questions that were correct or incorrect.  They became very mad at me when I wouldn't tell them exactly which questions were correct or incorrect.  It's okay.  They lived.  And, they were able, usually, to figure it out themselves!  

To make giving out ghosts easy on myself, I found a ghost clipart picture and printed it out a zillion times.  

The group members would write their name on their ghost and tape it to the tombstone of their choosing on the dry erase board.  When there were five minutes remaining in class, I would announce the point values of each tombstone.  I chose point values of 10, 20, 25, and 50 points.  I just wrote these on a sticky note and stuck them on the tomb stones.

I did try playing this with six tombstones once instead of four.  It didn't work out nearly as well, but that was also the same game in which I tried playing it in 25 minutes instead of a full 50-minute period.  This game really does need a full 45-50 minute period to work well.  

Want the files for this specific ghosts in the graveyard game?  You can find them here!


  1. Hi Sarah. This activity looks fun. I'm sure it could be adjusted it for whatever time of the year it is... (say turkeys in the oven or arrows in a heart....). One question, how do the points play into the activity. Are the kids just excited to get points?... Do the pts go towards any reward?... Thanks for the upcoming reply!

  2. Hi Sarah!
    I love this activity! Thank you for the idea to get better and do more with independent and dependent variables.
    I agree with above- can you explain what they do with the points from the tombstones?
    Also, do you by chance have an answer key you can include or show so I can check my work! :)
    Thanks in advance!

  3. My teachers are going to try to do something similar to this for their midterm review with parts of the snowman. We'll let you know how it goes! Thanks for always sharing so much.

  4. I color coded the half sheets that had the questions with the ghosts. It made scoring it go a lot faster and there wasn't as much downtime at the end. Each group was a different color.