Why use games? Games in the classroom have led to the sprouting of a whole new 21st century educational research field over the last 10 years. They are often more complex than we give them credit for. In a Stanford report last year, it was cited that games teach children patience and discipline – 2 factors that can determine future success better than IQ. These are important skills that should be learned during childhood (but often are not) and are not something we can directly measure on any of our beloved standardised tests. They will always have a place in my classroom and here’s just one reason why:
Today was an interesting lesson. Sometimes my kids (yr 8’s are the funniest things on the planet! I just played a new game with them – Pass the Chicken. This game was suggested to me by a fellow member in a Facebook group called Relief Teaching Ideas (check it out for sure!). It was hilarious and they were so into it. Here’s how to play:
1. Take the rubber chicken out of the freezer – I’m not sure why it was there, but you see some random things at school sometimes. You will probably skip this step, but that’s where I had to get my chicken from.
2. Get the students to form a circle
3. Choose your starting student to ask them a question based on the content covered in your lesson from the day before (or as a total revision of the unit). As soon as you have asked the question, you say GO and the students pass the chicken in a clockwise direction as fast as possible with everyone touching the chicken. If the student you asked answers the question before the chicken gets back to the start, the person holding the chicken has to answer the next question. If the person doesn’t answer the question in time, we made that person do a choice of 5 sit ups / 5 push ups and then the chicken was passed to another random person to start the game again.
It’s a very simple game & a heap of fun. The added bonus of our chicken was that it smelt quite bad & felt gross, so students didn’t really want to touch the rubber chicken for long. One of the boys in the class suggested that as a 3rd option, they could do 5 sniffs of the chicken. That was the funniest thing that has happened in my class all term!
Pass the Chicken is a great teaching strategy to see any gaps in knowledge for the class and if any recurrent problems happen, you can quickly stop the game and address them. By asking the same question a number of times, it also reaffirms the correct answer, helping low level students catch up. As always, the game uses a number of clever teaching strategies to engage its players; movement, patience, fun, memory, laughter, competition, risk, verbal directions, discipline, recall, evaluation, and higher order thinking. When put like that, why wouldn’t you use them in the classroom to help enrich learning?
Some people find it quite daunting to come up with games and cringe at the thought of where to start, so we’re here to make your life easier! Here’s 8 websites to get you started on some fun games to use as innovative pedagogical teaching strategies in your classroom to help foster learning in engaging ways:
1. Engaging classroom games for all ages – The thing I like about this site is that the games can be translated into any subject area. You will find 9 educational games here and a heap of other incidental teaching resources
2. Subject specific games – there are a heap of games on here that are broken up into their subject areas. Chances are, you are bound to find something to use here!
3. Educational games for high school students – this is a site that has already compiled some awesome educational games and resources, definitely worth a look!
4. A to Z teacher forum – this is a link to a forum where a number of people have added their favourite games to the list of available classroom fun!
5. 60 game sites you may not have seen – this certainly looks interesting and it seems like each link has access to more amazing resources!
6. English games – if you are teaching English, here’s a stack of helpful links/printables/strategies for your students. Knock your socks off!
7. Higher order thinking games – targeted at high school and university students, this site has some games for your deep thinkers. I have used Pandemic 2 in my Biology class to simulate the passing of disease – very cool to set game playing as homework!
8. Who wants to win a million dollars – this is based on the game show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’. It’s a maths/science based game where you choose from 4 multiple choice answers. You have a few Life Lines to help you through the tough questions. I use this one all the time, love it!
Now there’s no excuse, get out there and start playing games in your lessons!
Do you have a favourite game that hasn’t been listed here? Link it in the comments!
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Have a great week.