Sunday, March 1, 2020

Using Games to Learn: The Importance of Games in Your Classroom

Using Games to Learn:

The Importance of Games in Your Classroom

Do you use games in your classroom?

I mean, like ALL. THE. GAMES?

Card Games 

Board Games 
Whole Class Games 
Partner Games 
Individual Games 
Small Group Games

Do you incorporate games into ALL subjects?

If your answer is no, you are missing out on a virtual GOLDMINE of learning in your classroom!

Today, I’d like to talk about the importance of incorporating more games into your classroom routine.

Games are a great way to introduce a concept, practice and reinforce skills, review before a test, build confidence, and so many more benefits.

Using games instead of workbooks, homework, drill and kill is a FUN way to incorporate learning in a non-threatening way.  It feels rebellious and like you are "cheating" and not fully teaching, but that couldn't be further from the truth! 
Those of you that know me, know that my philosophy in both a traditional brick and mortar school setting as well as in homeschooling involves learning through play.
If this is not your mindset, it is never too late to change and to begin to think of play and games as part of your curriculum.  
Games ARE learning!

In addition to learning and practicing specific skills and concepts, playing games develop and encompass many other skills:
  • verbal skills
  • following directions
  • social skills
  • cooperation
  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving
  • focus

Your students will be THRILLED to come to your classroom when you put away the workbooks and worksheets and instead play a game.
You will be THRILLED because your load will become lighter with adding games to your day and week.  The benefits for you include:
  • less prep time (ALWAYS a win-win!)
  • nothing to grade
  • set-up is minimal
  • engagement is maximum
  • informal observations and assessments

There are many different ways you can add games to your day.
  • Add a game to your morning routine for "bell work"
  • Add games for early finishers
  • Add games to centers
  • BEGIN with a game in any subject
  • Complete other work and END with a game
  • End your day on a high-note with a game
  • Add games for enrichment or remediation

One of the easiest and most fun ways I used games in my classroom for a whole group was so very simple and involved absolutely NO PREP on my part. I call this game "Four Corners".  Here's how to play:
Designate each corner of your classroom as a letter.  You can even add the letters like I did.  One corner is A, another is B, and the other two are C and D.  Ask your students a question with four answers.  When you say, "move" the students all move to the corner they feel is the correct answer.
(When you first begin playing this game, students do not want to be "wrong" and will usually follow the kids that they think know the answer.  One way to stop this is to give each student a write/wipe board along with a dry-erase marker and eraser.  Before saying "move" the students must write the answer on the board.  When they move they take the board only with them and hold that board up so that you can see that they have written the same letter as where they are standing.)

As students become more confident with this game, they will be able to move to a letter with confidence, even if they are the only student.  It really becomes empowering when students realize that sometimes the majority of students actually move to the wrong answer!

Through many, MANY years of teaching, I have witnessed the power of using games in my classroom (and now our homeschool).  While it does take a little planning and gathering of materials on your part, it is still vastly less than printing worksheets, grading those worksheets, and more.  Use those worksheets sparingly as a way to have paper proof (if you must) that the students have learned the concept.  We all know that you know which students have it and which students don't without seeing it on that piece of paper!

You can add games to your classroom without a lot of money:

  • thrift stores
  • ask family members and friends
  • post on social media asking for donations to your classroom
  • yard sales
  • clearance
  • online printables
  • online digital

If you are interested, I have several printable games in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

Here is a FREE printable in my store.

Sign up for my weekly emails and get eleven FREE No Prep Centers and Games.

Giving your students time to learn in this format can and will transform your classroom environment and your students' confidence in their abilities. 

Try it.

Then, watch the magic happen.

Fun combined with learning.  That's just...
My Kind of Teaching