Can we play a game!!??
If your students are anything like mine, you hear this question about a million gazillion times a week.
In the whiniest voices possible.
With the clear undertone that if you don’t we are going to make you regret it!!!
And while I love a good review game as much as the next person, when it comes time to review, I’m much more concerned about the review than I am about the game.
Too often review games are a huge waste of time. You spend the majority of the class period explaining the rules, trying to keep order, and watching kids run around the room with erasers on their heads.
They’re having a blast, but all too soon the bell rings and you’ve only reviewed 1/2 of what you needed to.
And then your kids bomb the test.
Fortunately, review games don’t have to be a waste of time. By choosing games that focus on the questions themselves while spending minimal time on the “game” part, you can add some excitement into your test prep without sacrificing the actual review.
Review Games that Use Time Effectively:
- Just give points: Divide the class into two (or more) teams and start asking questions. Call on the first hand raised, and if s/he’s right, give his team a point. If s/he’s wrong, the other teams get a chance to answer. Keep a tally on the board, and the team with the most points at the end wins.
- Personal whiteboards: If you’re able to invest a little money, purchase mini whiteboards (like these) and dry erase markers, enough for each student. You ask questions out loud, and the students write the answers on their boards and hold them up. The first correct answer wins a point for their team. This game wastes almost no time, and the kids love it.
If you want to save money, you can create your own whiteboards by laminating sheets of cardboard or cardstock. Students would then write with wet-erase markers.
- Race at the board: Divide the class into two or three teams. One representative from each team comes to the board. You ask a question or give a problem, and the first person to write the correct answer on the board wins a point for his/her team. The catch: the students at the board only get one try. If they all miss the question, you take the answer from the first person in the audience who raises his hand. Be sure to keep this game moving to minimize wasted time from students moving to and from the board.
- Group work contest: Assign a set of questions or problems to be answered by the group in a set amount of time. The group with the most correct answers wins. You’re really just adding a contest to a regular assignment, but the students appreciate the twist, especially if it comes with a prize such as bonus points, a homework pass, or candy.
- Un-Wheel of Fortune: This is Wheel of Fortune without the wheel. Have a phrase for the students to solve (preferably a key term or concept you are studying). Divide the class into two teams and ask questions to each student, going back and forth between the teams. Tally points for each team as follows: If the student answers correctly, give one point and allow him/her to choose a letter. Award additional points for each time the letter appears. (For example, if Gavin guesses E and there are 3 E‘s, he gets 4 points: 1 for the correct answer and 3 for the 3 E‘s.) The student can then try to guess the puzzle. Award 5 points to the team that solves the puzzle.
- Game Show (i.e. Jeopardy): While you may think this game requires lots of pre-class prep work, it doesn’t have to. Yes, you need to set up some type of game board, but other than that all you need to do is choose categories based on the topics you want to review. When a student chooses “State capitals for 200” simply glance through your notes for an easier question. “Verbs for 2000”? Just ask a harder question.
Click here to get a FREE digital game board.
- Around the World: This classic individual game still works so well! The first two students pair off against each other. You ask a question, and whoever shouts the answer first wins. The winner stands and moves to the next contestant. The goal is to move as many seats as possible before losing, at which point the losing student sits in the seat of the person who bested him. The game ideally continues until one student makes it “around the world” and gets all the way back to his own seat. Often, though, the game simply ends when time is up, and the person who traveled the farthest wins.
- Bonus Activity- Kahoot: Students get to be in their own game show by answering live questions on their own devices. Teachers first need to create an account at kahoot.com and then they can either use another teacher’s Kahoot! quiz or create their own. Teachers will get a game pin number to pass onto the students so everyone is playing the same game at the same time. Students love this fast-paced, exciting game!
So next time those little voices whine “can we play a game!?” you can give an excited SURE! – without the fear or guilt that you’re neglecting their education in the process.
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