Tag Archives: board games

Shake it Up! (Board Games and Apps in the Classroom)

It’s been so hot here lately, as it is pretty much everywhere the past few weeks. The heat is the only part of summer I really don’t like. If it could be 75¬†every day and I’d never complain again (at least not about the weather.) I’d even trade in my 5 snow days for 75 degrees every day.

Today we stayed inside and played a lot of games…Tweedle Ian and I played two Cranium games (Dice and Cadoo) while Tweedle Dee was hanging at her friend’s house. Tonight after dinner we all played games together.

My kids love Boggle. I love that they love it. This game is obviously good for spelling and reading skills. Tweedle Ian has finally figured the word family and plural strategies and is in it to win it these days.

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I see a 6 point phrase. Do you?

While this game is good for very small groups sitting around a table, there are some computer games and apps that use the same concept and reach more learners at a time.

A personal favorite is a great web-based game, Letter Blocks, that we play on the SMARTBoard and trust me when I say it is addicting.

  • I have used this game at the end of the period as a reward for hard work.
  • I have used it as part of a “rotation” (I won’t call them “centers” since I’m working with middle schoolers.)
  • I have left this link for the substitute in case my plans run short or if he/she needs something for my intervention study hall.
  • I also have a link to this game on my page on Edmodo. If a student wants to play this game during study hall or at home they can (and they do).
  • My own kids play this game on the weekends if we go into school for a few hours.

Below are the names and screen shots of some similar apps that we use at home on the iPad. (I am so excited that this year our school is piloting a BYOT program -Bring Your Own Technology- and I will be able to use some of these apps in the classroom.)

Connect Four (Board Games in the Classroom)

Again, going back to “old school” games….Connect Four is a good game to look for when you are hitting the garage sales. I once saw a SMARTBoard version, but the real version is enjoyed by all kids (Funny how as an adult, it’s one of the last games I feel like playing with my own kids.)

You can use Connect Four for review purposes with no extra preparation.

Divide your class into two groups (as in most teaching situations, the smaller the class the better) and set them on opposite sides of the room with the Connect Four board in between them.

Begin your review session by asking a team a question. If that team is correct, they get to place a checker in the slot. If they are wrong, the other team can make a move.

This does put a lot of pressure on students to come up with the right answer, so it is probably a good idea to not single out a particular student to provide the answer. Instead, make it a team effort.

Each round ends rather quickly, so it is fast paced and no one gets bored. And everyone is reviewing.

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My 9-year-old, “Tweedle Ian”, during a game of Connect Four. How can I resist those big brown eyes?

Trash to Treasure (Board Games in the Classroom)

As we are in garage sale season, now is a great time to pick up some cheap board games. These games don’t even have to be in great shape or complete. The random playing pieces (like dice, chips, board markers, or checkers from a partial set) can be used in a variety of ways with your students.

The pieces of the games, boards included, can be modified for classroom use and incorporated into student projects (one of the choices for our Earth Science project is to make a review game).

An idea I recently read about in Differentiated Assessment Strategies: One Tool Doesn’t Fit All, by Carolyn Chapman and Rita King, is to have students place the red monopoly houses on the main idea and green houses on supporting details.

Other ideas:

  • Students can place a red house on a math problem they are stuck on and as the teacher comes around the room, they will be able to stop and help them.
  • Students can lay a red, yellow, or green playing piece on the corner of their paper to show their comfort level with the concept being taught.
  • Use a deck of cards to create random groups. (All the 4’s are in a group, all the hearts are on a team, the Aces are team captains, etc.)
  • Give a sand timer to a student who easily gets distracted or who needs limits. They can try to complete a certain number of problems in 2 minutes.
  • Use play money as part of your reward system or to practice money skills.
  • Use colored marbles or chips for a lesson in probability.

Here is a shopping list for your next garage sale outing. You may have to think outside the box and look inside game boxes to find these goodies:

  • spinners
  • dice
  • cards
  • checkers or chess pieces
  • game boards
  • play money
  • marbles
  • place markers
  • dominoes
  • letter tiles
  • sand timers

Because my cat, Ellie, is an indoor cat she can’t go to garage sales. But, she does like to play good old-fashioned board games!

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Tweedle Dee and Ellie playing a Lego game.

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Ellie takes her turn at Shrek Monopoly. (One of my LEAST favorite games of all time.)

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Ellie and Tweedle Ian play Yahtzee (with foam dice because they are silent!)

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Guess Who? Yep, Ellie again!

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