An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-Winning Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback)
Illustrated by Sutthiya Lertyongphati
One of the fundamental tenets of teaching that I learned years ago was this: kids get bored very easily.
The modern teacher needs to be an excellent entertainer and educator; and that involves bringing variety into each and every lesson.
Over the years I’ve built up a ‘knowledge bank’ of learning games which require little-to-no preparation and which can be applied to any subject area. These games bring variety and ‘fun’ into our lessons, and are definitely very-highly recommended.
So bring your wallets and purses of learning because I’m about to share this knowledge bank with you.
Game #1: Splat
This quick game is so easy: all you need is a whiteboard, whiteboard markers and class of kids. It’s a great game for consolidating key vocabulary, and is perfect for E.A.L. learners.
Game #2: Mystery Word
Another easy game. This time, students randomly pick out written words from a hat (or cup, beaker, container, etc.), and then they have to explain their word to the class (without saying the word). The students who are listening have to guess what the word is.
Game #3: The Poster Game
Possibly the most fun and competitive game I’ve ever invented for teaching new content. You’ll need space for the kids to walk/run, and the game does take some prep. However, once you (and your students) become used to playing this game you’ll find that it’s a doddle to set up in no time at all.
Game #4: Who am I?
A very simple game. All you need are post-it notes and a class full of energized students! Great fun. Perfect for reinforcing key vocabulary and concepts.
Game #5: Bingo
Got some equation symbols or mathematical problems to teach your kids? Perhaps the symbols of the periodic table is more your thing? Whatever it is, this simple game can be adapted to suit any subject.
Game #6: Vocabulary Musical Chairs
You’ll need a good rapport with you kids to use this one, as it needs to be controlled really well by the teacher (e.g. to avoid kids bumping into each other). However, it is simple, fun and worth the effort!
Game #7: Mystery Picture
This one takes some imagination on the part of the teacher, and some training of the kids beforehand. However, it’s really, really good for encouraging higher order thinking skills.
Games 8 and 9: ‘The Human Graph’ and ‘True or False Walls’
A ‘human graph’ is very simple to set up. Just ask the kids a series of questions and ask them to line up at the position that represents the answer. Hey presto – you’ve formed a human graph! It’s probably best to ask between 5 and 10 questions (forming 5-10 human graphs) in a real plenary and you might want to print and display the answers at different positions in the room. Its a lot of fun!
True or False Walls is another easy activity to implement. Choose one wall to be the ‘true’ wall and one to be the ‘false’ wall. Ask the students a series of true or false questions and get them to walk to the corresponding wall. This works much better than simply getting kids to raise their hands as they’ll be moving around the room. I’ve done this countless times with my students and they never seem to get bored of it. Can be used as a nice break in the middle of a lesson too.
Game #10: Memory Mind Bender
I first learnt this game at 15 years old when I was an army cadet. My platoon commander was trying to get us to learn the working parts of an L98A1 Cadet GP rifle (Wow – it must have worked if I can remember that 20 years later!).
Get your kids to sit or stand in a circle. One student starts with a phrase about the topic. The next student then repeats that phrase and one of their own. The chain continues and continues until all of the concepts have been verbalised in sequence. Don’t be afraid to start the chain again if a student forgets a phrase! See below.