Games and Acvities in the Classroom

Games and game-like activities are an important part of any classroom experience. That the motivation level of students increases drastically upon their use is no accident. The addition of competition or a mystery prize often changes the most boring classroom activity into a “game.” It is obvious to anyone teaching, that even mentioning to students that you might “play a game” causes the students energy and motivation to increase drastically.

While games are important and even necessary, there are some tips and techniques that educators should keep in mind before introducing a new game. The most successful games are simple, requiring a minimum of explanations and rules – if a game takes an entire class period to explain, it is probably not an appropriate classroom game. Most games should fall within the natural flow of the class period – only rarely should they be set apart as major events in themselves.

Tips for Teaching with Games:

  1. Use the language of the subject during the game. Some games, such as certain board games, may include concepts being covered in class, but can be played succesfully without the student ever having used the language and vocabulary of the subject being taught.
  2. Provide maximum opportunity for students to participate. All students should be engaged all of the time. Games that require taking turns should be modified so that those who are waiting for their turn are included in the learning.
  3. Organize and score the game so that most of the playing time can be spent learning. Devise a manner of splitting up teams, scoring, and explaining the rules that does not take up the majority of the time allotted for the game.
  4. Add an appealing element such as competition or suspense, but structure the game to avoid intense individual competition that could carry over to negative feelings outside the classroom. Do not be afraid to allow students to lose, but avoid competition that overwhelms the purpose of the game.
  5. Choose a game that is easy to play so that it will move quickly. In most cases, short games can be repeated in several rounds during one class period. These are preferable to long games that are not completed before the period is over.
  6. Stop the game at a point when the students are still excited and want to play more.
  7. Do not repeat successful games during the same class period or the next day, even if the students ask for them. Use any game or activity sparingly to keep it motivating and fresh.
  8. Structure activites so that everyone plays to the level of his or her ability. Use modifications when necessary for certain students.
  9. Give games a name, especially if you are likely to use them again. Children will regard the game as something special if it has a name, and a name makes it easier for them to talk about outside of class or to request it in the future.
  10. Include games played in other cultures. International games help students develop a sense of diversity and well-roundedness.

Do not be afraid to use games in your classroom. Games help children to learn that learning can indeed be fun! Following these simple guidelines for the implementation of games in your classroom will help ensure that everyone involved gets the most out of the game. Happy learning!

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