I know that many teachers might feel like they have no time for games and fun educational activities in their classrooms. I find that very sad. Games and free time in class can be a valuable way to bring students together and teach at the same time. And games can provide wholesome family fun. So today I am going to encourage the use of games. Try to fit them in somewhere in your world.
Today the games I speak of are, I would say, for mid-elementary on up, unless you have one of those prodigy children who start playing chess when they are one.
I ran across a website about games, including the feature about Olga Jarrett. I mentioned Olga the other day in regard to play and here is a website that might be useful when it comes to games. It’s called http://www.majorfun.com. The page highlighting Olga Jarrett is http://www.majorfun.com/2009/07/15/olga-jarrett/ and it talks about some fun science activities. This website encourages you to make-up your own games. Teachers and parents often have great ideas for games that they should share! I think the world would be a better place if you did.
As most know, games can instruct and be useful teaching tools at home or in the classroom. I like games because they can bring students together. There are the well-known favorites like SCRABBLE and BOGGLE, but there are many others that might not be as well-known.
In my classroom, chess was absolutely the king of games (pun intended) for boys and some girls. As an aside, my husband, who is a chess aficionado, has noticed that a lot of private schools like to advertise using pictures of students who appear to be seriously playing chess, but, he derives great delight in pointing out, they almost always have the board set up wrong! So even if you aren’t a great chess player (like yours truly) make sure you know how to get the board set up right with your students.
Also, don’t think chess is just a game for gifted students. Many of my students had been diagnosed with learning disabilities. It only took a few to know how to play and a teacher who made sure the board was set up correctly. The others caught on quickly. It never failed to amaze me how they would watch each other play and be eager to play the winners! Chess builds self-esteem in students.
Two other great games that might not be well-known, are TRIBOND and BLURT which can still be found if you look hard enough. With both of these games you can put away the game board in class and stand at the big board in front of the class and tally answers. This is only if you have the luxury of reasonably sized classes. If not, try to find the games at garage sales and/or online and seat students in small groups.
TRIBOND presents a group of words and students must come up with the connecting word. Ex. OLIVE—LIME—EMERALD (Green).
BLURT gives a definition and the student must think of the word. Ex. “A musical instrument with a long neck and usually having six strings that are plucked with the fingers or a pick.” (Guitar).
There is BLURT Kids and TRIBOND Kids and the adult versions.
There are many other games that employ thinking skills, attention, and FUN. MOUSETRAP is quite involved when you think about it, but it really teaches building skills to children. Adults are often needed to play along.
My family likes SCATTERGORIES, where you have to list as many words related to a subject beginning with a chosen letter–in a minute! I am rather slow at this so it is not my favorite game. One day I will go through the cards, when no one is looking, and figure out answers. OK. Not really. I am not endorsing cheating. But you could use the words and make it a class activity.
There are a variety of memory games out there based on characters and themes that are great for children, even little ones, who have attention issues. They must focus to remember.
I will continue to write about fun learning and games because they are really motivating. And, for me, that’s what teaching is all about.