Using Games In The Classroom
A few weeks ago we looked at digital review games in the classroom and why you should be using them in your centers, as early finisher activities, and more.
I think that the same idea rings true for board and card games and today I am going to prove it to you!
Why You Should Use Games
Games are underutilized in the classroom. After all, if we can make parts of learning fun, shouldn’t we?
Also, did you know students learn faster through play? According to research by Dr. Karyn Purvis, scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.
Games engage students in learning.
Have you ever watched a student’s body language change as they become bored with your lesson?
It isn’t pretty.
How can we avoid our students’ disengaging with what is happening in the classroom?
Play more games!
Now, I’m not suggesting that we play a board game just to pass the time. Even games should have a purpose, especially when it is using valuable class time. However, with the right game, you can keep your students engaged AND learning.
Games allow students to practice what they have learned.
Once your lesson is over, students (hopefully) understand the main concepts. Hands-on practice will help reinforce what they have learned – and allow you to make sure they really understood the lesson.
Games are a non-threatening practical application of your students’ knowledge. Students have the chance to use what they have learned without feeling stressed that they will get the answers wrong.
Students learn 21st century and non-cognitive skills through play.
Our students need to learn more than facts and math problems. They need to be able to learn how to communicate effectively, work together, and solve problems.
Games are a fantastic way to practice these skills. Before students graduate to working together on a project, they can work on their communication and cooperation in a short-term, low-risk game.
When You Can Use Games
So, you want to use games, but aren’t sure how to find the time. How can you integrate games into your learning?
Want to see students excited to do your warm-up? Using a game is a fun kickoff to your lesson that will get your students engaged immediately. Just make sure that the game you decide to play is somehow connected to the lesson!
For a warm-up, you want to pick something that is quick. For example, BOGGLE might be a great start for a language arts class. A 24 Game card would be a perfect puzzle to start a math class.
For science or social studies, how about a Guess in 10 activity? I would switch it to Guess in 5 and add one clue each day. For example, perhaps you want students to guess a person. Each day, write a clue, with each clue getting more specific. On the first day, students could record their possible guesses. Every other day, they could cross out answers that are eliminated by the other clues or revise their choices.
Were you an early finisher in school? I often was and would end up with the “uh, why don’t you read a book?” suggestion, because my teacher had nothing else for me to do.
Don’t let your students get bored. Have a few games they can play quietly as the rest of the class finishes their work. Card games are great for this, because they are fast and usually don’t make a lot of noise. (I recommend always teaching and playing games before expecting students to play on their own.)
Games can be used for students to practice what they have learned in a way that doesn’t scare them like an assessment might.
Without the “threat” of a grade, students feel less pressure to perform and are able to just play the game (and practice what they learned!)
Games just scream centers to me. Isn’t it the perfect time to play?
With little to no prep involved, review games are made to be used in centers.
Make sure you have games that are connected to the lesson of the day/week so students end up doing brain work too! You could also spiral previously learned concepts.
Don’t we all like rewards?!
Motivate your students towards a goal with their favorite game.
If you pick the right game, they might not even know that they are “working” as a reward!
If you have students who you see are struggling in certain areas, you can send a game or two home to play with their families.
This can be tricky to maintain, so I would only recommend doing this with games you don’t mind not getting back or with families you have good relationships with. (You don’t want to send home a game if students will not be able to use it. Some students will feel bad if they have a game to play but their families don’t play with them.)
Where You Can Find Games
When it comes to board and card games, you can easily find yourself spending more money than you intended to.
But with a little patience, you can find what you are looking for at a decent price.
Here are some of my favorite places to find board and card games:
- Stores (check clearance)
- Thrift Stores
- Yard Sales
- Parent Donations
Examples Of Using Games For Learning
Practically speaking, here are some ideas and examples for how you can use board and card games to supplement your teaching.
As your students walk into the classroom, have them play a quick game of 24 or my Greek & Latin Roots Boggle as an easy way to warm up their brains and get ready to work their minds.
Are you teaching grammar today? Use my Grammar Yahtzy!
Or maybe you are working on geography and want to see how much your students remember? Go find yourself a copy of Game Of The States, a board game that will challenge your students to remember where states are located, what the state capital is, and more.
There are a bunch of different games you can play to review with your students. Here are a few of my favorites:
Test Prep Games
Games are a great resource for your classroom.
They can help your students practice what they have learned, review for assessments and exams, and be used during centers.
While board and card games can easily be purchased, connecting them to your lessons can be challenging.
That is why I’ve made test prep games for you to use in your classroom.
These games can be used as test prep, center games, warm-up activities, and more.
I have ELA and Math test prep games made for 3rd – 6th grade and you can look at all of them by heading to my shop now.