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July 2, 2019

Let's Talk about Games

I've always loved using task cards in my classroom - I jumped on that bandwagon years ago.  I use them for intervention, for review, for centers, for Scoot, etc.  Something that I've added to that list the last couple of years is using them in conjunction with interactive kid games.  That's a way to bump up engagement.

It's also only a special treat.  I only do this for review times, not for the everyday math lessons (we have other games/activities for those).  I want kids to have a foundation before they are having to multi-task.  Sometimes I'll add one of these games into a center rotation, but that's pretty unlikely as I won't be able to monitor as much when I'm working with my own group.  The focus has to stay on the math skills, the games are just the fun vehicle.   


 So here's the breakdown of what I've tried:

Kerplunk - I have one giant game.  It's actually a pain to set up, but the kids love it.  I got it on major sale after Christmas one year.  It also takes a long time to reset the game, so when it's up I try to use it for many different things. 

I have used it for Classroom Management (Head Over Heels for Teaching idea) - where a hard working kid gets to pull a stick.  When the balls fall the entire class gets a reward.  

***With TASK CARDS all these games pretty much have the same routine:

1.  The player or team chooses a task card and EVERYONE solves it.  

2. The player checks their answers against every other player's answers, and they see if they match.  If they do, they notice the different ways they have solved the problem (what different strategies did they use) - using a number talk format.  

3. If they don't have matching answers, then they still have a conversation and teach each other how they did the problem, usually errors are figured out as to why it was the wrong answer (error analysis). 

4. At the very end, they can check their answer on the answer key, then the player gets a chance to play their turn (even if they got the math problem incorrect).  

Connect 4
The last couple of years I have only had one game of Connect 4.  It's on my list to get a couple more sets since the kids love it so much.  It's also good for rainy day games, since it's a quick reset.  They play similar to above - but are working in teams to choose the math problem and to place their game pieces.  Since it's a faster paced game, I have each member of the team get their own piece (so 2 pieces are played at a time).  Everyone still solves the problem, everyone still takes part in the discussion.

Basket Case
 Basket Case - My grade level has a couple sets of these in the workroom.  It's so much fun and the kids have a blast.  It's a quick set up, but there is definitely more skill involved with that pesky hand-eye coordination. Lots of laughs with this game.  Same idea as to how to play using task cards.  They all solve the problem, they all have those conversations, then the person who has it on their head is the one tossing the ball into the air and trying to catch it.

Jenga - I actually have 8 sets of these in the classroom.  You probably do not need one for each group of 4, but they have come in handy over the years.  Sometimes we have an entire room of Jenga going at a time.  It does take a little bit of time to reset, little sand timers help with having the kids reset quickly.  If you are doing these on desks, I've found it's faster to use a small tray under the game so that kids build on that.  It seems to help when the blocks fall so they aren't falling all over the place.  

*Not pictured but other fun games:
-Battleship when learning coordinate graphs.
-Dominoes (not played traditional way) - the kids add a piece vertically to a growing trail, and then at the end the players knock the pieces to let it fall.  
-Board Games (Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, Candyland, etc)
Same idea with all of these - kids play a round after they've done the work.  

I hope this helps someone.  Try to add a game next year, your kids would love it!

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