Brilliant learning with games solutions to motivate in the classroom
Why is learning with games the perfect solution for young learners? The answer is simple. Kids love to play games! Games actually help release endorphins that assist in knowledge retention, as well as creating a sense of happiness and excitement.
It is a great active learning technique that works great in our classrooms! But how can you maximize learning with games in your classroom?
Is focusing in class a struggle for your primary students?
We discovered that focusing in class was difficult for some of our students. They would stare off in space during instruction and they struggled with completing worksheets. Then we started learning with games. This strategy helped our students who weren’t focusing in class to be more attentive. I know there are some teachers that feel games are just entertaining, and yes, they are, however they are so much more than that.
In 11 Benefits of Playing Games in the Classroom, Victoria from Teach Starter states, “Answering questions on a worksheet or producing a page of text can be quite daunting and stressful for some students. It can also create a negative perception of a student’s learning environment.”
“Games are a far less stressful way for students to demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and understanding of a topic. Being less stressed helps students have a more positive perception of their learning environment and give a more accurate indication of their learning(Victoria, Teach Starter, 2021).”
In this article from Edutopia, Hoa P. Nguyen states, “Research shows that using games in teaching can help increase student participation, foster social and emotional learning, and motivate students to take risks.”
Learning with games requires kids to pay attention because the games move quickly. This increased focus on each game’s details helps students pay more attention to other classroom activities throughout the day.
Try team work games if you’re looking for powerful results
We play games in the classroom to encourage team work. Working together as a team for a common goal is a great way to build community. Building community games help students to gain confidence because they are helping their teams, which of course brings us back to more of those great endorphins!
In the book Stick Together, Jon Gordon reminds us how working as a team helps us persevere through challenges, overcome obstacles, and create success together.
Fun and Engaging “I Have Who Has?”
One of the easy team work games we like to play is “I Have Who Has?” Each student is given a card and the one who has the card that says, “I will start” begins. For instance, the kid would say,”I have the word is. Who has the word did?” The child that has the word did, says,”I have the word did. Who has the word man?” The play continues until the last child says, I have the word____, whatever that word happens to be, then you could add, “and this is the end of our game.”
Encourage students to make their team work by challenging them to complete the cards before time runs out. They can compete as a team to keep getting faster times.
If you’re looking for something a little different, these cute animal timers can add some fun to your routine!
If you don’t want to make your own “I Have Who Has?” game, we’ve got you covered! Our Monster Sight Word game bundle has 3 separate games to play and kids love the monster images.
We also have “I Have, Who Has?” for:
Teach important skills with quiet games for the classroom
Heads Up, 7 Up
One game they like to play is “Heads Up, 7-up.” You choose 7 children to come to the front of the room, and tell the rest of the class to put their heads down, and put their thumbs up, and the 7 students that are standing walk around the room and each child will put the thumb down of a classmate. You have to remind students that they have to keep their eyes closed.
After all 7 children have picked someone, and come back to the front of the room, then you say “heads up, 7-up” and the 7 children that were chosen will guess who picked them. If they guess correctly, they get to take the place of the child who picked them. Encourage children to pick students who haven’t been picked.
Quiet as a Mouse
A quiet game we play when we need a game that is easy and quick is “Quiet as a Mouse” This is a great game when you are in the hall and you need students to be quiet for a few minutes. Pick a student to be the mouse and he or she will pick a student that is being as “quiet as a mouse.” Then that student is the mouse. It is that simple and I am amazed at how much our students enjoy this easy game.
These games are a great way to teach self-regulation skills and skills for focusing in the classroom.
What are fun indoor activities for kids? Have them create their own games!
Put them in small groups and give them paper, post-it notes, markers, tagboard or poster board for the board. They will also need dice for their games unless they are creating cards that will say how to move on the board. Remind them they need to have a start and a finish to their games. This is a great activity for fostering team work as well as creativity and critical thinking skills. PBS for Kids has some great ideas for board games!
This is also a great active learning technique as it can be incorporated into a PBL. Read this great article by CLICKING HERE on how to make game designs one of your new learning with games strategies.
Use command F(Mac) or CTRL F(PC) and search “game design as PBL.”
Easy Movement Games to Engage Your Students
Easy movement games are a fun and engaging way to use learning with games. When you feel like students are just restless and need a break from their regular classroom routines, then play one of these easy movement games.
Easy game of Freeze
The children all stand up and start moving and dancing around and when I yell, “Freeze” they have to stop in whatever position they are in. This gets the whole class laughing, and it is a fun way to get those wiggles out.
All you do is designate 4 corners in your classroom and students choose a corner to start in. Tell students which corner is 1, 2, 3, and 4. Choose a student to be “it” and guess a corner. All the students that are in the corner that student called out have to sit down. Play continues until you are left with one student. This is another quick game we like to play when we need a movement break.
Students also enjoy listening to music between rounds. Play something fun and have students choose a corner when the music goes off.
Active learning technique for Four Corners
Immunity challenge: Choose a topic from the standards you are covering in class. Prepare a set of “immunity challenge” questions for students to answer. Before the “it” person guesses a corner, students have an opportunity to answer one of your challenge questions. If they answer correctly, their corner gets immunity for that round…BUT don’t say the corner out loud.
If the person who is “it” guesses a corner with immunity, you just say “that corner has immunity!” and play a new round. No one would be out.
Learning with Games and Scoot
One of our favorite easy movement games is Scoot. This is where you place a task card on each student’s desk and they move from desk to desk answering questions. Our kids love this game! It is quick-moving and it is also a fun way to assess students without them feeling stressed about it. We have created many Scoot games because our students love them so much, and we also like using the cards in centers.
How to use games of concentration to motivate student learning
Games of concentration are wonderful for helping students with memory recall. You can put students in small groups of 4 to 5 and give them some cards from a deck of playing cards or maybe cards that you create with matches. Have them turn them over and take turns turning a pair of cards over. If they match, they keep the pair, and get another turn.
If they don’t, they turn the cards back over and the next child takes a turn. The winner is the student with the most pairs. You can also let them play in teams, and the team with the most pairs wins.
Games of concentration variations:
Here are some great variations you can use with a deck of cards:
- 4 of a kind: Since there are 4 suits, have students add to their collection. For example, if a student gets a 4 of hearts and diamonds, that student needs a spade and a club to complete their set
- Addition or subtraction: Students can only keep the pair if it adds to an even number, odd number, or certain solution. Same with subtraction.
- Want this adorable deck for your students? CLICK HERE!
- Games of concentration for content area vocabulary: We have created several sets of concentration games with real images for standards-based content area vocabulary. We have included a teacher guide with several differentiation options that make this a perfect center or classroom activity for learning with games.
CLICK HERE to see our concentration game for November
CLICK HERE to see our concentration game for December
CLICK HERE to see our concentration game for January
Brain Bounce Game
One of our games of concentration is called Brain Bounce. Students are asked questions about thematic vocabulary words and gain points for their team when they answer correctly. These are words that we have been learning, so students have to concentrate on what they remember about the words. They love this game because they get to pick team names, and they actually ask if we can play this again when the game is over, so that’s a win!
We use these task cards as a read around the room activity. Students receive a clipboard with a recording sheet to write their answers on. This is another fun and engaging way for students to practice vocabulary.
The best part about incorporating games in our classrooms is that our kids are focused more on the fun than they are on the stress to learn and succeed. It takes the pressure off. We are their heroes because they love to play games! Not to mention it’s fun and engaging and makes us look good when our children inevitably succeed.
Come back next week and read about more fun and engaging game ideas!
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