Games Galore!

17 August 2015 / Leave a Comment
Over the years, I've found that kids usually fall into two categories when practicing basic skills. There are the kids that always seem to be excited to practice their math facts and sight words. These kids seem to find some sort of joy in mastering those basic skills. They seem to be able to create a challenge for themselves and never seem to tire of flash cards. This group is the minority.

The majority of children do not find joy in practicing basic skills. There is either a groan at the sight of the sight word cards, or a silent resignation at the task of getting through the dreaded practice. Or, you may have a child that just refuses to participate.
Let's face it, for most kids, practicing basic skills is just not fun.  When kids are resistant to practicing these basic skills, they are much less likely to successfully retain and refine those skills that they are practicing.

To change their reluctance to excitement, all you need is a little fun. Turn the rote practice in to a game. I've seen the most reluctant students ask to practice their math facts when they are presented in a fun format. They don't realize, or care, that they are practicing the same skills they've recently  refused to practice.

Here are a few basic game formats that I use regularly:

Roll, Say, Keep
Roll, Say, Keep! is a fun game that you can use to practice any basic skills. You need a few things for this game: a game board for each child, cards to practice a skill, and one die.

Kids will roll the die, count the dots on the die, and find the space with the matching numeral. They will then identify, read, or solve the problem from the card in that space. If they do this correctly, they are able to "keep" that card and they keep on playing.
 "Roll, Say, Keep" is a very simple game. Once the kids have mastered the format, you can change the game boards to create a 'new' game.
You can try out a FREE copy of an "Apple Themed: Roll, Say, Keep" here.
Bump is another fun and easy game to use. All you need is a game board, 2 dice, and 10 cubes of two different colors. Players roll the dice, add the numbers and find the sum on their boards. It is a great way to practice math facts.
You can use a number of variations with this game. Use 3 dice to practice three digit addition, have students use 2 dice and multiply the numbers, use 2 dice and practice subtraction. You can try out a FREE Back-To-School Bump game here.
Feeding Any Animal, Person, or Creature 
Kids have a wonderful time "feeding" anything in the classroom. The act of placing a card into the frogs mouth, changes the task from mundane to out of this world! I've created a multitude of animals, people, and monsters that can eat any sight word, letter, number, shape, or math fact that you throw at them. It doesn't need to be elaborate, all it requires is some type of mouth.
I have a set of amphibians that help kids practice their short and long vowels. "Frog" only eats short vowels and "Toad" will only eat long vowels. This duo is a hit! All you need to create them is a set of large containers with a circular top, (I used empty Clorox disinfecting wipes.), some scrapbook paper, google eyes, and some long and short vowel food! You can read directions to make them here and get a freebie, too!
You're not limited to animals. You can use the fascination with the "Old Lady" that eats everything! I printed out a picture of the old lady's face and attached it to a cardboard box. Now she is ready to eat anything you can throw at her. I keep the old lady on a shelf and grab her every time kids need a little bit of excitement added to the day. They can't wait to see what she wants to eat!
The Old Lady has eaten: rhyming word pairs, even or odd numbers, capital or lowercase letters, and a multitude of sight words. I've also used the Old Lady to teach and practice the concept of subtraction. You can see that in action here. It's fun, adds novelty, and keeps their attention.
The beauty, of these games, is that you make one or two containers to feed and you have a game waiting to happen. Any flash card, piece of paper, or object can be fed to these containers. Simple and fun!
I hope you found some ideas to bring games into your daily routine, or to pull out when enthusiasm is sinking. Thanks so much for taking the time to read!


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