Wednesday, June 21, 2017


We’re off on our family vacation today and I won’t be home until July 3rd. Of course, I’ve done my lesson plans like a “good” teacher so you’ll have something to keep you busy while I’m gone.
One of the sessions that I’m doing at the I Teach Kindergarten Conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks is called “Game On!” If you’re not going to the conference, I’ll be sharing the content from that session so you’ll have ideas, patterns, and a bucket of games when school begins.

All you have to say is, “Let’s play a game!” and you will naturally engage your students. But there’s more than PLAY going on with these games!

Standards – Sugar coat those standards by developing a game around the skills you want to reinforce.

Executive Function – Through games children can develop task initiation and completion because there is a beginning and an end. They also learn self- regulation and delayed gratification.

Active Learning – With games children can talk, interact with friends, and use multi-sensory materials.

Purposeful Practice for Automaticity – In order to master skills children need to repeat and practice them. Clearly, kids would rather do that with a game than with a worksheet.

Intentional Teaching – Teachers can create flashcard games, board games, or a variety of games based on any skill (letters, numbers, sight words, vocabulary, math facts, science or social studies, etc.) Think about skills in your curriculum and there’s the content for your game.

21st Century Skills – Children will naturally develop cooperation, collaboration, and communication as they share and play games.

Brain Research – The brain likes anything that is novel and challenging. Games add that element of fun and motivation to academic content.

Differentiated Instruction – Games can be adapted for specific needs and used for small group, independent, or take home practice.

Limited English Learners – Games can provide that visual and auditory connection in a non-threatening way.

Instructional Time – Take advantage of transitions and those few extra minutes during the school day by playing games.

Look at your standards. What skills do your students need to master?
Are they struggling with any letters, sight words, shapes, math facts?
Be specific with the content you choose. Start simple and make the games increasingly complex. Remember, nothing succeeds like success.

construction paper, poster board, fun foam, file folders, scissors, tape, glue, hole punch, jumbo craft sticks, magnetic letters, markers, recycled materials, small toys and inexpensive items you can find in a dollar store

You can make games yourself.
You can ask parents to make games for you.
You can share games and rotate them with other teachers.

Store games in zip bags, manila envelopes, pencil boxes, plastic tubs, or other containers. *Hint! Color code with stickers to indicate content area.

Demonstrate how to play the games and keep the rules simple. It often takes several times for the children to “get” a game. Model how to care for the materials and clean up.

Games can be used for large group instruction during transitions. They can be used with small skill based instructional groups. And, they can be used for independent practice.

Tip! Use games to motivate your students by saying, “If you work hard we will have time to play a game.”

*Try using “Brain Lotion” before playing games with pieces. (Take the label off a bottle of hand sanitizer and replace it with a label that says “Brian Lotion.” This will keep your games clean and germ free.)

YOU add the magic! You can take any game and make it more exciting with your attitude. Be dramatic and challenge your students! Come back tomorrow for some “quickie” flash card games.