Do you use games in your classroom? When I was still teaching, I tried to incorporate games as much as possible in our lessons because games often produce instant student engagement. If you’re looking for new and fun ways to engage your students, you’re in the right place! Today I am sharing my all-time, favorite classroom learning games!
BENEFITS OF USING LEARNING GAMES
When students struggled with a particular topic, I always found that the best way to truly master it was through repetition. Unfortunately. . . repetition can get boring! This is where games come in. Games allow students to practice something over and over without getting tired of the activity quite so quickly! Games provide an exciting appeal that even the best worksheets can’t compare to. For this reason, I have always loved to make sure games make a regular appearance in my curriculum.
Learning Games to Teach TRICKY SUBJECTS
I love using games to target skills that are a bit on the tricker side. Some components of the 1st grade curriculum, like teaching young students all about the different components of grammar, are no easy task! Luckily, a good game can make all the difference!
This Singular and Plural Nouns Center Game Unit will help your students master nouns as well as verb agreement in a fun way.
In this Pet Themed Game, students will race to “save the pets” by identifying whether the card they drew is a singular or plural noun. Students will love the fun theme of this game board, making engagement a snap!
This game also comes with a sorting activity, recording sheet, and sentence-building activities for easy differentiation. The multiple game formats allow you to target this tricky subject in multiple ways.
GAMES FOR SKILLS REPETITION
As with just about everything in first grade, practice makes perfect when it comes to many of our skills. In first grade, we cover so much it can be hard to go through it all and make sure my students actually comprehend and will be able to apply what they have learned.
Over the years I found that the key to this is repetition, all year long. I also found that the more games we played, the more accurate my students became with these concepts. Games help bring some fun to repetitive skills practice, making it SO much easier to help your students succeed.
To help my students master tally marks in first grade, I created a resource that allows them to practice over and over again in a fun way. This Tally Mark Games resource uses colorful reference posters, spin, and tally, roll, and tally, matching games, and worksheets to help students truly master this skill.
Task Cards are the perfect resource to use in a game of Scoot! Since task cards generally focus on one skill, students get the repetition needed to help master a skill by working through multiple cards.
To turn a set of task cards into a game all you need to do is post the cards around the room or lay them out on the desks. Have each student start in front of one card and give students a designated amount of time to complete the task card. When the time is up you say “Scoot” and everyone rotates to the next card.
I’ve found that the key to keeping the game-like feel is to not give too much time. Enough time that students can complete the card, but not so much that they finish and get bored waiting for time to move. Since every skill will require a different amount of time I can’t give a flat time of 30 seconds or 1 minute. Instead, I liked to time myself completing a few cards, and then I would add a little extra time. And . . . as you play you can always adjust the timing to meet the needs of your students.
Another way to target those tricky skills is by playing BINGO. I don’t know about you but year after year my students love BINGO games! BINGO is a great option for centers and small groups but also works well when played as a whole class. It’s a versatile, classic game option that can help your students when repetition is key.
I’ve also found that using BINGO as a review activity is a great way to make end of the unit or end of the year test prep fun and exciting.
I loved using BINGO games so much that I created a variety of different BINGO games for my students.
GAMES FOR LEARNING NEW SKILLS
In first grade, one of the many math standards is learning to read both an analog and digital clock within the hour and half-hour. While this takes some practice, it is an exciting skill for young students to learn. I remember my students being so anxious to test their knowledge on our classroom clock throughout the day!
To help my students master this skill, I created a whole set of skills centers all about telling time! I love using these centers together so that students can move from one game to the next and get some dedicated practice in with telling time, all while focusing on a different, engaging game in each center! Students will work on puzzles, clip cards, write and wipe cards and even do a skills check in these centers. Learning to tell time can be truly engaging with hands-on centers!
Another new skill we learned in 1st grade is place value for numbers to 99. This can be especially tricky for firsties, meaning it’s the perfect skill target through games! My Place Value Activities Pack is filled with fun games to help your students master this tough skill. Included in this unit you will find both a fall-themed set as well as an “anytime” set of the activities so that you can use this resource all year long! This fun set includes 8 games in both versions as well as spinners and worksheets to help your students get plenty of place value practice in! I also have a whole set of Place Value Scoot Task Cards if you’re looking for even more fun games to play.
Tips for Using Learning GAMES IN THE CLASSROOM
Before you jump into using games with your students, let’s discuss a few tips for making games run smoothly in the classroom. While games are a great tool for engaged learning, it’s always a good idea to make sure students understand how games work in your classroom before you begin.
These are some things I always like to do before starting a game.
1. Model how the game is played before allowing students to work independently
This is key, especially for games that will be used as centers. I always like to take a few minutes to introduce a new game and make sure everyone understands how to play before allowing them to jump into the game on their own.
Playing together as a class is a great way to make sure everyone knows and understands the rules and the activity.
So often centers are only a few minutes per rotation, so you don’t want students spending those precious minutes trying to figure out how to play.
2. Address how game pieces, boards, and materials are expected to be used
Laying out the procedures and expectations for supplies and activities is always a must. This helps to eliminate those little temptations. When everyone knows the procedures and expectations, then students help each other do the right thing. While this surely falls right in line with your other classroom rules, it never hurts to remind little learners about the appropriate way to use classroom materials.
3. Plan to use games more than once
Using games multiple times or in different ways helps in so many ways. Not only does it help to save time in planning, but students also get to know how to play. And . . . as I mentioned before, repetition is key in learning just about any skill and the same can be said with learning games. Once your students get the hang of a game and its rules, they will get SO much more out of the activity. For this reason, I always recommend using the same game multiple times throughout the year to ensure your students reap the benefits!
GET STARTED WITH LEARNING GAMES IN YOUR CLASSROOM
So, what do you think? Ready to dive into some fun learning games with your students? If so, I have the perfect freebie for you! Grab your own copy of this free CVC Phonics BINGO Game to test out in your classroom! Grab the freebie and see just what learning games can do for student engagement in your classroom!
SAVE THESE IDEAS FOR LATER
Don’t forget to pin these to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back for more learning games and classroom ideas.