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Fun, Effective Classroom Games for all Grades

Janelle Cox

Classroom games can teach students a variety of skills. They are not only great for reviewing information, but learning new things as well. “Play to learn” was a motto I heard that has stuck with me. It makes sense, and there have been numerous studies that correlate the two. Playing games makes learning fun, and who doesn’t like fun? Here are a few fun and effective classroom games that can be adapted for students of all ages.

Classroom Games: Spot It Fast

Spot It Fast is a fun review game that can be adapted for students in all grade levels. The goal of the game is for students to race to the board to spot the correct answer that the teacher has put on the board. This is a great game for students of all ages because the answers can literally be anything that you are learning about: Numbers, spelling words, vocabulary words, or anything.

In preparation, the teacher has to first determine the theme, then come up with the questions and at the very least, three answers for each question. Then, before each question you must write (in random order) the answers on the board. To play, students are divided into two teams and stand in a relay race line (one behind the other). At the teacher’s signal, the first person from each team must spot the answer and run fast to the board and touch it. Whoever answers first, and is correct, gets a point for their team. If neither opponent answers correctly then the answer remains on the board and two other people try.

Life-Size Tic Tac Toe

In the life-size Tic Tac Toe game, the students become the human X’s and O’s. In preparation, the teacher must create a Tic Tac Toe board on the floor (or outside) with masking tape or chalk. To play, students must be divided into the two groups (X’s and the O’s). Each group stands in a relay race line (one behind the other) and is given a masking tape “X” or “O” to be placed on their shirt. The teacher then asks one team at a time a question. The questions can be anything you want, how to spell a word, a mental math question, a vocabulary word, etc. Then, if the student answers correctly, he/she goes to the Tic Tac Toe board and takes their position. This continues until one team gets three in a row and wins.

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Spin to Spell

Students as young as 5 years old will love the game Spin to Spell. The only preparation for the game is to have a spinner (to determine how many points each word are worth) and a master list of the spelling words. To play, divide students into two teams. Students can move their desks in two half moons facing each other. Teams take turns spinning the spinner and spelling a word off of the master spelling list (which is directed by the teacher). The first team who gets a set amount of points wins!

Without a Word

  • Students must complete an activity without using their voices. This can be quite hard for students, especially the younger ones. But it will teach them communication skills in a way that talking cannot. Here are a few ideas on how you can play.
  • Challenge students to arrange themselves in order from shortest to tallest.
  • Write down a spelling word on a sticky note and stick one word onto each student’s shirt. Then challenge students to arrange themselves into alphabetical order.
  • Direct students to arrange themselves into alphabetical order according to their first name.
  • Place a drawing of a clock with a different time on each students’ shirt, and ask students to arrange themselves in order from a.m. to p.m.
  • Have students sequence themselves according to the month that they were born.

Read My Mind

This game is great for building vocabulary skills as well as reinforcing skills. It can be played alone or in a small group. To begin, the teacher thinks of a topic, for this example it will be automobiles. Then she/he has to think of ten words that are related to that topic. Words that are related to automobiles would be car, plane, train, etc. The teacher gives students the topic (automobiles) and sets the times for three minutes. The goal is for students to write down as many words (car, plane, and train) as they can that relate to the topic. Students receive one point for each word that matched the teachers. Other topics can be fruits, vegetables, presidents, zoo animals, Holidays, dinosaurs -- the options are endless.

Try and take the time out of your daily schedule to play at least one game a week. You will see that any kind of game that you play, will help to motivate and engage your students in their learning.

Do you have any fun learning games that your students love? Share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators