Playing games in the classroom, be they of a cooperative or competitive nature, is a wonderful way in which to increase student engagement and motivation.
Admittedly, the simple act of saying, “Okay kids, so now we are going to play _________ games,” magically heightens “the happiness/alertness factor” in the classroom.
& so … why do I believe in “the gamification of learning”?
Alphabetically speaking, games involve/embrace the following:
- Active engagement
- Challenges – ongoing & ever present
- Challenges – often very “cool”: i.e. “Save the world”, “Save the Prince”, “Climb the mountain, cross the ocean, etc.” with the implied understanding that as a player, “You can do it!”
- Clear goals – players learn to “follow instructions” as they morph and become increasingly complex over time
- Co-operative learning or friendly competition – choose the “type” that appeals to individual students
- Developing strategies – skills acquisition
- Fun – it’s a game! 😉
- Goals – clearly laid out, increasing in complexity as the “user” becomes more proficient/adept
- Immediate feedback – players know exactly where they stand relative to personal goals and/or to other players
- Levels – playing & learning are levelled according to individual strengths and needs
- Practice – often repetitive in nature as well – with the goal of achieving “mastery” in order to reach the next level
- Problem solving – let’s learn “how” and in new ways …. students are able to “try out theories” and take risks, to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills in a safe, fun environment
- Progress – attainable goals; visible; rewards 😉
- Risk taking – players learn to take calculated risks in a safe environment
- Role-playing – creativity – Students choose who or what they want to be – a unicorn? a wizard? yourself?
- Skills acquisition through a clearly outlined process.
… & so there it is – alphabetically speaking – the “the gamification of learning” —- just one among many of the “cool” approaches to learning – one that engages students as active learners.
(Please note: I am grateful to all those who have spoken and written before me on this most entertaining and effective teaching strategy … I tip my hat to you … for your ideas and input — for these are surely not all my own but, rather a co-operative process.)
Pump Up the Volume
Students “zoning out”? Need to pump up the volume in class? Here are some ideas for short classroom breaks:
I work my students hard. I demand a lot from them — I ask for their very best. I am firm but fair. We are busy!
But no matter how intelligent and entertaining (hahahahahaha) I try to be, my students and I (!!!) invariably do at times during the week run out of steam at times and need a little pick me up.
When this happens I turn to two bowls in my classroom filled with little pieces of paper. They are our “GO TO” bowls and the students love them. One is labeled “Seatwork-out” and the other “Get Moving”.
I choose one student to go to one of the bowls and draw a “ticket”. On the ticket is the name of a game that we can play as a class for 10 minutes – & they really help us to perk up!
I find that after moving about and sharing a giggle or two our attention has improved and the quality of my “teaching time” is better. It’s also a great opportunity to continue to build our classroom community, and gives me an opportunity to see how my students interact with one another.
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see two bowls in my room containing the following activating activities to enjoy!
GO TO Bowls:
- Chain Spelling (Teacher says a word; the next person names a word the begins with the last letter of the previous word
- Broken Telephone
- Memory Games (e.g. show a number if items on the Smart Board for 15 seconds – remove the pictures – see how many items students can recall)
- Chair Aerobics (e.g. http://bit.ly/dSl0IX)
- Brain Gym (e.g. http://bit.ly/dyzWUa http://bit.ly/IMU4o)
- Mirror-Mirror In pairs face a partner: one child mirrors the other child’s movements – he/she is the mirror
- 20 Questions
- Letter – Give the students a letter and provide them with one rubber chicken (for example). Students must pass the chicken around the room. Each time a student has the chicken he/she must say the name of a word the begins with said letter … within 10 seconds.
- Letter-Letter – Teacher writes a letter on the board – students are given 20 seconds to record as many words as they can that begin with that letter (individually or in pairs) Boggle – write radon letters or a word on the board – how many words are students able to make from the letters?
- Secret Letter – In small groups students come up with 3 or 4 questions to ask the class. Students take turns answering the questions without using the letter “S” (for example)
- Hangman – play using current classroom concepts & vocabulary
(B) Get Moving:
- Two rounds of Classroom Charades
- Simon Says
- Over/Under Relay – use a student’s soft pencil box, a tennis ball, etc.
- Seven-up-Stand Up / Heads Up-Seven Up
- Hot Potato
- Jumping Jacks
- Trash-ketball- Crumple up paper (from the blue bin) to use as a basketball. Use a garbage pail as the net.
- Freeze – Play a song: everyone dances & freezes when the music stops.
- Snow Ball Fight – My kids love(!) this one. Students record some
- facts about themselves on a piece of paper (e.g. favorite color, animal, number of siblings, etc.). They crumple up the papers & at the count of three they throw the paper balls around the room for one minute (like snowballs in a snowball fight). At the teacher’s signal students stop the “fight”, grab a piece of paper & take turns guessing who created the snowball(s).
- Flight Master – Make a paper plane quickly at home, during lunch, just before recess, etc. (use recycling paper). Students keep them in their desks until later. When we seem to be “fading” we take them out and see whose flies the furthest.
- Musical Chairs
Easy Games to Play at Home or in the Classroom at a Moments Notice
(With little or no materials …)
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see these games being played n the classroom throughout the school year. Enjoy!
(Please note that these games are just for fun & some are clearly more appropriate for the school yard or the home … )
*Memory game: Show children a number of items on a tray. Cover the tray. Have students record as many items as they can remember. Who is able to remember the most?
*Bubble gum blowing contest: Who can blow the biggest bubble?
*Cracker Whistle: Give children three crackers. On the count of three chew the crackers. The first child to whistle is the winner.
*Egg & spoon replay race. Place an egg on a spoon and run! Don’t drop it 😉
*Feather Race: Each person gets a feather (or have a relay race). Place the feather on the floor and blow it across to the other side of the room. The first person to cross the finish line wins!
*Opposite Simon Says. Play Simon Says, the added challenge being that the children have to do the opposite of what Simon Says!
*Balloon relay race: In teams of two: Place a balloon between two people’s shoulders and have them run as fast as they can without dropping the balloon.
*Shoe Toss: Who can throw a shoe the farthest? (Yes! It’s as simple as that!)
*Snowball Fight: Two teams. Everyone crumples up three pieces of paper form the recycling bin. Use a skipping rope to create a dividing line down the middle of the room. On the count of three students toss their “snowballs” onto the other side of the room for 30 seconds. If it snowball lands on “your side” pick it up and throw it back! The side with the fewest number of snowballs wins. Wonderfully exhausting!
*Paper planes. Give each student a piece of paper form the recycling bin. Have them make their own paper airplanes. You can award points for longest flight, further flight, or coming closest to a mark.
*Basketball. Two teams. Each student makes a “basketball” out of paper from the recycling bin. Place two “baskets” in the middle of the floor. Have students stand back. Now throw! The first team to get the most baskets wins!
*Talk-Talk: Stand opposite another student. “On your mark – get set – go!” See who can talk the longest … no pausing! No uhms! Lots of giggles! Whoever wins form the pair now “talks against” the winner from another pair.
*Story round robin. Sit in a circle. You start the story, “Once upon a time ….” after 30 seconds the next person in the circle continues on with the story … and so on, and so on, and so on!
*Last Letter, First Letter: Sit in a circle. The teacher says a word. The next student in the circle must say a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. Keep going. When someone makes a mistake he/she must sit out.
*Making words: Write random letters, a long word or a saying (e.g. “Happy New Year”) on the board. Students must make as many different words as possible using only the letters that appear in the word(s) on the board. Set the time. The student who makes the most words wins.
*Pictionnary (on the board)
*Taboo (teacher assigns the “word”)
Have a peek at this site for additional ideas!!! —-> http://ht.ly/62YQw
Note: One idea for keeping track of games and ideas … and keeping them on hand:
Fishing for Fun
Grab a fish bowl. Bring it into the classroom and create a creative sign that reads “Fishing for Fun”. Every time you think of a game to play or an actvity write it on a cue card/slip of paper and place it into the fishbowl. So now, on those days when you have an extra ten minutes to spare reward a student by giving him/her the opportunity to reach in and pull out a game or activity from the fish bowl! Voila!