Kids just want to have FUN! School systems just want to have higher test scores! What to do? Let’s play a game! Games are a perfect vehicle for reinforcing skills, and they are a great way to enhance social skills, motor skills, attention span, and responsibility. Motivation and repetition are natural when children have a game they enjoy!
A research study cited in the NKA Newsletter suggested that kindergarten children who could play games did better academically because they knew how to follow directions and take turns. This might be a good piece of research to pass on to parents!
When you make your own games, you can really “hone in” on specific skills and the needs of your students. Games can be used to introduce or extend skills and concepts from math, to science, language, or social studies. Most of these games are easy to make and simple to play. Here are a few helpful hints:
1. Limit games to one concept of skill.
2. Keep games short. Start simple and add more pieces to challenge the children.
3. Use old workbooks, school supply catalogs, and recycled materials to construct games. (You might want to get parent volunteers to help you make them.)
4. Make games colorful and attractive. Laminate for a “longer life.”
5. Construct self-contained games for easy clean-up. Store pieces in zip baggies, clasp envelopes, pencil boxes, or plastic tubs.
6. Try to create games that are self-checking for immediate feedback.
7. Make games where all children are winners.
8. Demonstrate how to use games before you put them out. Model how to clean up and store pieces.
9. Use games in learning centers, with small groups, or when you have a few extra minutes in your day.
10. Let children check out games to take home and play with their parents or siblings.
These are a few of my “favorite games” that I have played with children over the years. Adapt them, change them, and, above all, have FUN with them! As you check all the new offerings, watch for the notes about downloads. You will find a lot of them this month.