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Using Classroom Games to Teach about the Continents

Janelle Cox

Teaching about the world’s continents to your elementary students involves teaching about the geopolitical aspects of the continents, as well as about the basic concepts and landmarks.

As you navigate your way through the science and social studies aspects of the world, try to integrate a few intercontinental classroom games to help students solidify their knowledge of the continents.

Here are a few international classroom games to play while you learn about the seven areas of land.

Classroom Games: A Quick Warm-Up

As a warmup activity, teach your students how to say hello from different languages. The goal of this activity is to heighten students’ cross-cultural awareness, and get them ready to learn about the seven continents. Here are a few ways to say hello (find more ways to say hello).

  • Asia - The standard greeting in Japan is “Konnichiwa” (pronounced "Kone-nee-chee-wah"), and the basic way to say hello in China is with “Ni hao” (pronounced “Nee haow”).
  • Africa – A traditional way to say hello is “Howzit,” or the slag term is “Heita.”
  • South America – A simple “Hola” is how you say hello in Peru.

Asia

Asia is the largest continent and covers almost a third of the world’s land. Here is a game that children play in Southeast Asia, especially in Burma.

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Hiding a Stone

The only equipment that you need for this game is a stone. Divide students into two even groups. Have each group come up with a name for their team. Encourage them to think of a creative name from Asia. For this example, we will use team 1 and team 2. Instruct each team to sit with their legs out in front of them so that both teams’ backs are facing one another, and they  are parallel. To begin the game, hand the stone to the first player on team 1. Her job is to walk up and down the aisle and place the stone under one of her teammates’ legs. Then, the first player on team 2 must try and guess which player on team 1 has the stone. If the player guesses correctly, the person who hid the stone must join the other team, and the guesser is now the hider. If they guess incorrectly, then that person must join the other team and the next person in line from their team now hides the stone. The team that has the most players before the time runs out wins! The amount of time needed for this game is at the discretion of   the teacher.

Africa

Africa is four times the size of the United States, and within that continent there are more than 50 countries and territories. Here is a popular game from Ghana.

The Snake

Equipment needed for this game is a large indoor or outdoor area, a few cones, and a whistle. To begin, randomly select one student to be the “snake.” This person takes the cones and marks off an area as his “home.” At the sound of the whistle the snake runs out of its home and tries to tag as many people as they can. If a student is tagged, then they must become part of the snake by either holding hands or holding on to the snake’s waist. Each person that is tagged becomes part of the body, but only the head and the tail of the snake is allowed to tag people. If the body of the snake comes apart, the whistle is blown and the snake is sent back to its home. Once the snake’s body is in working order the whistle is blown again and the snake is free to tag other players. The game ends at the teacher’s discretion.

South America

South America is the fourth-largest continent in the world, and almost one fourth of all the animals in the world are from there. Here is a popular game from Peru. It is said that the faster the game is played, the more exciting it becomes.

The Clock

For this intercontinental game, all you will need is one jump rope. Randomly select two students to hold the jump rope at each end. Have them practice swinging the rope so that it consistently makes a circle time and time again. Instruct the first player to run through the rope and jump once saying, “One o’clock.” Then the second player runs through the rope jumping twice and says “Two o’clock.” The game continues until someone can jump 12 consecutive times in a row, or “12 o’clock.” If a player misses a jump or does it incorrectly, then they switch places with one of the rope holders.

These are just three examples of the types of intercontinental games that you can play in your classroom, to help solidly any new information that is cross-cultural. Playing these games will help reinforce any new knowledge that is learned, and they are a fun way to get your students excited about learning new things!

Do you have any fun international games that you play in your classroom? Please share your ideas 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, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.

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