Why play games in class?
Any opportunity for my students to play a game in class and I’ll try it. Games get all students involved, Importantly and simply, you can check for understanding and they can consolidate their knowledge.
The trick is to make sure that they play a part in making and playing the games. Not only does this save you precious planning time, but it also gives students ownership and then playing it becomes part of the achievement, they suddenly have a vested interest with high accountability. This promotes engagement in the learning process.
I’m all for the holistic experience of education for all of the students I teach. Playing games enables students to be creative, improves confidence and cements the content that they need in the subject.
I’ve briefly described three games below that are low effort, high impact in my classes. If you try any of them, let me know how it goes!
Noughts and crosses
This is a simple game that everybody knows how to play! Students create 9 questions – 3 easy, 3 of medium difficultly and 3 hard questions. (Of course you can change the difficultly amounts depending on your class!) They assign each question with a number at random, from 1-9. They then swap their questions with another pair. The first student picks a number from the grid, If they get a question right then they can put a nought or cross on that number and so on until they get three in a row. They can even draw out the grids themselves, or you can get laminated sheets.
Inspiration for this came when playing the board game at Christmas a couple of years ago! You have all of the key words, one per slide, for an entire topic. One student at a time sit with their back to the board and you put a word up for the rest of the class to see. Students have to help that student to guess the word by giving them clues. No rhyming or gesticulating allowed! This can be differentiated by choosing the word that suits the ability of the student who comes up to guess. I appreciate that this would fill some students with dread! So you can change how it’s played, by putting them in groups or pairs. They can even play on their table, just give them paper to hold up behind the student in the ‘hot seat’.
Who am I?
Give students post it notes, each one writes a key term, important name or date etc on it in secret. They then stick this on another students’ head. Each student takes their turn to ask one ‘yes/no’ question. They keep going round until they’ve all guessed correctly!
Of course, I can’t take credit for originally creating these games! But I have managed to successfully use them in class with excellent reactions and quick consolidation!