Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites ~ Games (Chapter 4)

I'm joining up with my bloody teacher friends today to focus on Chapter 4 from our online book study of Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate. Today's focus is GAMES! At first, I felt like games really weren't my forte in my classroom, but as I read the chapter, I did feel more affirmed. This quote stopped me in my tracks, though!

While pre-kindergarten kids love to play games, 
it is also one of the 10 activities that keep people living beyond the age of 80.
(Mahoney, 2005)

Wow! Did that hit home for anyone else? More games for me, please!  If the administrators ask, I will say, "Just doing my part to increase my students' life expectancy!" :D

The first game I thought of is one of my students FAVORITE games to practice sight words. It is called ZAP! and I wrote an in-depth blog post about it here. I made it years ago, and it is still a class favorite. Some other favorite English/Language Arts games are I Have/Who Has, Sparkle Spelling, Boggle word-building, Clue-style review games, and timed textbook scavenger hunt games. 

When I first started teaching, I worked in a middle school setting with students that were emotionally disturbed. I used games A LOT in my classroom! Games helped my students practice real-life skills, such as cooperation and taking turns. It was also good to practice the appropriate way to respond when you are disappointed about losing a game or frustrated that it isn't going as well as planned. 

Games are also a lot of fun for reviewing math skills. A quick and easy game I play is FLASH! (I mistakenly first called this game Flash Me! In a middle school ED classroom. Haha!) When we are practicing a skill--such as adding decimals with regrouping--the students have to write it on their board. I give them all time to solve (including a period of time where they can get help from a friend if needed), then I say, "Flash!"  They have to flash me their boards... and if the entire class gets the answer correct, they earn a point. If they don't, then I get the point. They win by getting more points than me during a game. I love this simple game because it encourages the kids that struggle to get help from a friend so they can all be successful. 

Mind Reader is another fun math game that helps practice logic, reasoning, and place value. (I should blog about that one, too! It's great "filler" when you have a few minutes to spare!) Factor Relays get kids up and moving, but also practicing their math facts. We have also shot some hoops or measured the distance we could fly our paper airplanes... then used the data we collected to practice mean, median, mode, and range. The possibilities are endless! 

Games are also a great way to boost morale and motivation. I remember the day this photo was taken like yesterday... even though it was 6 years ago! It was Valentine's Day. My kids' brains were FRIED. I threw my lesson plans out for the day, borrowed the TV cart from the music teacher, and we played Dance Dance Revolution! The educational catch? After each round, we determined what fraction of the points were earned by the singer and what fraction of the points were earned by the dancer. Then we converted each fraction to a decimal and a percent. My kids thought it was THE BEST THING EVER... and I won back their motivation to learn. I realized how important it was that day to take time to just have fun and laugh together. Yes, we were learning, too. But more importantly we were having fun doing it

Be sure to head on over to Queen of the First Grade Jungle to join in the discussion! 

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