Everyone knows about the wall. That invisible barrier we all hit at some point in our years or months where you just can’t think of another interesting thing to do or another way to solve the same problem. Teachers aren’t immune to the wall. As breaks draw near or big tests loom, students get antsy and teachers start dreaming of half-days and afterwork drinks. If you just can’t bring yourself to diagram one more sentence or toss one more pop quiz into the mix, that’s cool with us (and your students). But, that doesn’t mean you have to fall back on a movie, either. Most of these classroom games and activities for kids can be tailored to fit your lesson plan perfectly… but they’re way more fun than the typical review.
Bingo may not seem educational, but it absolutely can be if you do it right. For instance, to practice vocabulary words, fill your bingo boards with that week’s words. As you read off definitions, students must know which word you’re defining and mark their boards. The first person to get a row filled is the winner. You could also do this with historic names and events or with fractions vs. decimals.
Just like Bingo, Hangman can be tailored to what’s happening in your classroom that day. For instance, if you’re learning about the Civil War, you could use words like, “Gettysburg” or “Abe Lincoln.” You could even make it a rule that if a student wants to guess the correct word, they have to tell you a fact about that key figure or idea.
For this, you’ll need to divide your class into 2-3 teams. Then, pick some categories that focus on the lessons. A good time to play this would be before the end of quarter/semester exams, as a way to review all the various content you covered during that time frame. You can do a category for each chunk of lessons.
Younger students will appreciate this more than bigger kids. But, you could create puzzles with simple math equations or a written vocab word. Once they solve the puzzle, they have to solve the equation or define the word. Which kid, team or table will finish first?
5. Whiteboard Bull’s Eye
Draw a bull’s eye on your whiteboard (or chalkboard) and keep one of those suction cup balls handy. Each ring of the bull’s eye should have a point value. Have questions ready that pertain to what you’ve learned that in unit. Whichever team or table group answers the question correctly gets a chance to lob the suction cup ball at the bull’s eye and get points for where it lands. Maybe whichever team gets the most points gets extra credit on their quiz or review homework?
6. Heads Up 7Up
While this isn’t educational at all, it’s a game played in classrooms across the country. (Maybe even around the globe?) If you’re having a particularly rough day or can tell your students just need to rest their brains, this is the answer.
Keep in mind that timid students will hate this game. Write out key words, phrases and figures from the unit onto sheets of paper. Divide the class into teams and take turns having a student from each team pull out a word and act it out while the rest of their team guesses it.
You can prep for this game exactly like you prep for Charades. However, instead of acting out their selection, students will need to draw it out on the board or on a large paper on the easel.
9. Draw Swords
This can get really wild and competitive. If you have enough textbooks, students can play at their desks. Otherwise, divide them into teams and have them go head to head. Ask questions that pertain to the unit(s) you’re gaming with. When students think they have the answer, they much thrust their books into the air — like they’re drawing swords. They’ll answer the question or define the term. If they get it right, they get a point. If not, it’s up for “the draw,” again.
In this game, students should be divided into teams or pairs. One student will be given a keyword from your unit and must use related words to try to get their teammates to guess the right thing. However, accompanying their keyword is a list of things they can’t say. For instance, if the keyword is “Gettysburg Address” you might ban words like “Lincoln,” “Speech” or “Score.”
11. Rhyme and Reason
You already know that coming up with poems or songs is an excellent way to memorize new material. But, it’ll really stick if your kids come up with their own instead of just learning something you give them. Split your students into groups and have them work together to write a rap pertaining to your current unit. You could give each team a different specific part of the unit to rap about, or let them all compete to write the best one.
There are so many ways to adapt Jenga for the classroom. You could simply write or affix unit-specific questions or words to the blocks and build a single tower, and let them take turns pulling and answering questions. You could also have multiple games and have them split into teams. The person who pulls the block must ask the question to another teammate. If the teammate gets it right, the question-asker must place the piece. If they get it wrong, the answer-er must place the piece and then pull out another to ask the next question.