Top 5 Games For Kids With Spring Fever April 15 2010
Sunshine, white puffy clouds and cool breezes drifting through open windows - Spring is upon us. Not only have you noticed, but your kids have too, becoming more squirrelly in response.
This is the time of year that I like to use games of different kinds across the curriculum to encourage sparks of interest and learning during these last weeks of school. In addition, games add a level of skill review and reinforcement as well as provide some relief from rigorous testing they are finishing up for this school year.
Over the years, I've found the kinds of games that appeal to me for a few reasons. First, they can be adapted to small groups, individuals, partners or whole group play. Since they require minimal prep (photocopies) and materials I already have in my classroom, these games are easy to throw together at any point of the day. And most important, they're fun.
Dice games are really fun to use with probability and math games. I've included a couple of my absolute favorites that I use throughout the school year.
The Game of Pig is an easy dice game that can accommodate a variety of age levels. Use one die for younger kids and require that they add points to reach 100 in order to win the game. For older kids, use two dice and make 250 or 500 the goal for winning. I've provided this sheet - The Game of Pig Directions and Tally Sheet for you to photocopy and use with your class. Play once with your whole group to make sure they understand the directions.
Splat is a dice game that is my absolute favorite of all time. It works on addition or multiplication as well as probability theory and analysis, plus it builds a fantastic level of suspense. It's a game I enjoy playing with the whole group, with me at the overhead keeping score on a transparency while my kids use their math journals. When they decide to "go out" during a round, they simply flip their notebooks over.
You'll need a 12-sided die, but they're pretty easy to find. For older kids, a 20-sided die would also be good to have around. Pick up 5 to 10 of one or the other (or both!) when you purchase them so that small groups of students can play SPLAT! on their own.
Try a combination of Lowercase Alphabet Cubes and Uppercase Alphabet Cubes to have students practice identifying both lowercase and uppercase letters as well as their corresponding sounds. Rolling the dice will provide a sense of surprise and fun since they don't know what letter will show up next.
Bingo has to be the most versatile game concept in the history of Earth. You can use it with any subject - I'll prove it!
Reading - put words that correspond to sight words in each square, then show the pictures one at a time to the players. The participants mark off the correct sight word on their boards.
Math - Put either an answer or a math problem in each square, and announce corresponding problems or answers while they mark the correct squares.
Writing - In each square, put punctuation and editing marks. Read the purpose of the punctuation of the marks to your class while they mark off the correct squares.
Sudoku and I are not close friends. However, I appreciate the value of the skill and strategy required to play.
One of the best ways I saw Sudoku used was in a colleague's sixth grade class. The teacher, Mrs. Keinonen, played with the whole class using her document camera and one board to introduce the activity. She wanted her kids to be comfortable with playing the game on their own or in partners and small groups.
The first card in the Sudoku games is the easiest, and they get increasingly difficult, which makes the game more versatile. Mrs. Keinonen had the first card of Fraction Sudoku projected onto her white board so her students could see it and provide suggestions on how to solve the puzzle.
"I really like this game,” said Mrs. Keinonen at the end of the lesson. “There are blank squares to write on in case you lose game pieces…and that always happens. Genius!”
While visiting a first-grade classroom recently, I saw this activity as part of a Literacy Center. I thought it was a clever use of materials that are probably already in your classroom.
The Beginning Sound Card was laid comfortably in a regular-sized cookie sheet on a desk between two students. Each student playing had a sandwich-sized plastic bag that contained magnetic letters, all 26 of the alphabet per bag.
Since they were partnered up, the students at this center took turns drawing a letter out of the baggie and placing the letter where it belonged on the Beginning Sound Card. Because the card was nestled on a metal cookie sheet, the magnetic letters stayed put.
I found that students were using the ABC song whenever they found themselves stuck on a letter, as well as using the pictures and corresponding sounds on the card to guide them toward the correct match. This would be an ideal individual activity in addition to partner work.
Another fun game is matching pictures with the correct word cards, but only when a good memory is required. Take a set of Beginning Sound Sort Cards or Beginning Blend and Digraph Sort Cards and shuffle after making sure there are corresponding picture and word cards. Lay them down in a grid - i.e. 4 cards by 5 cards - and explain that each person takes a turn choosing a picture card and a word card that match. If the turn results in a match, the player gets another turn. Play until all of the cards are gone from the grid.
Sentences can be really fun to build in a way that resembles Ad Libs. A good place to start sentence building is with the Build A Sentence Game that incorporates a spinner and the opportunity for silly sentences. If you want to review and practice parts of speech with your students, try the Sentence Building Flip Stand in a center, or the Build A Sentence Process Grid. Remember, the sillier the sentences, the better! Try providing blanks for some of the students' sentences and putting them together to make your own class Ad Libs!
As the school year is winding down, take advantage of their excitement about summer and channel it with some of these games. It won't even occur to them that they're reviewing and practicing valuable skills across the curriculum!