Monday, September 8, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 6)

Games Galore- Games are a great way to increase the engagement level of your classroom. We often integrate games into station work or to reinforce a skill that has just been taught, but have you considered using games as a brain break or as a transition? Having a ready-made set of games can really boost your students’ level of engagement and/ or refocus their attention if you reach that thick-of-the-lesson lull. I try to keep some classroom sets of games in Ziploc bags that are ready for me to grab at any time. Some of my students’ favorite games are simple card and dice games that can be played and cleaned up in less than 10 minutes.

Admittedly, the hardest part of integrating games into the classroom is organization. In order to get the games out quickly, the materials must be organized and ready to go. I use school boxes to organize game materials (see the photo on the top below) and little colorful containers that I found at Staples to organize the markers for the students (see the photo on the bottom below). The game boxes are prepared for a group of four or two groups of two to share. They include 4 pawns, 2 decks of playing cards, 4 six-sided dice, and two pennies. This allows the students to quickly grab a game box to use during a variety of game play. The markers include centimeter cubes and colored chips. Organizing them with the little containers allows students to quickly grab two kinds of markers for games like the Connect Four and Connect Five shown below. (Note: If I have a three-player group, I use pre-separated containers of beans.)               

Try inserting a quick game at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of your next lesson and watch the student engagement level soar. My favorite games are Connect Four and Connect Five. They are both multiplication games where kids roll multiple-sided dice to obtain a product. They cover the product on the board with a marker and try to get four or five in a diagonal, column, or row. I usually leave a laminated stack of game cards and containers of markers in a designated pick-up spot in the classroom. Once the students find a partner, they quickly head to the material pick-up table, get what they need, and begin playing. At the end of game play, they return the materials to the same spot.

Find a free copy of these games HERE or by clicking on the “Freebies” link. Enjoy!