Nov 19, 2010

Teaching with Board Games

Way back when I started teaching, I tried making a board game for students to play while reviewing for a test. It was REALLY tacky since it was four sheets of paper I taped together and I had hand drawn the game board. Very ugly. Embarassingly ugly. Then I realized I could just use real board games and modify them!

The best ones I found (well, my mom found at garage sales!) were Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. I had a whole shelf of them in my classroom and even my 18 year old students liked playing with them!

What I did first was use a permanent maker to number each space on the board. Chutes and Ladders are already numbered 1-100 so that was done for me. Awesome! I think Candyland had a random number of spaces so I numbered up to 100 and then started over again from 1.

I then made a packet of problems. Since I used this for reviews, it was relatively easy to get 100 problems put together. If I was to do this activity for a single lesson, it might be more difficult to gather that many problems or questions! (One modification is to not number so high on the boards. Maybe only number to 30.)

The students were grouped into three or four and the rules were simple:
1. The student would roll die/draw car/spin spinner/etc and whatever space he landed on, the ENTIRE group had to work that problem from their packet.
2.If the group agreed the person was correct in their answer, he got to stay on that space.
3.If he got the answer wrong, the group would find his mistake and fix it and the person would have to go back to previous place on the board.
4. Winner would get some sort of prize.

When the students played the game, they usually had fun and were engaged in the activity. I liked that the game itself helped them have little 'brain breaks' instead of working on a worksheet for a solid 30 minutes. I LOVE cooperative learning in a classroom so I like that everyone was working the whole time and they were finding and correcting mistakes before moving on to the next question.

I told the students up front that if they played the game and worked well as a group, they might work 15-20 problems out of the 100 before there was a winner or we ran out of time. However, if they chose not to work as a group, misbehaved, etc, the game would be put away and they would work out every problem in the packet. I can't think of one group who ever had to work out all 100 problems in the 8 years I used this activity! :)

This idea can easily be modified for young children or even homeschoolers who only have one or two students working together. Of course, this is where mom comes in to play with the kiddo! :) The boards can be numbered less than 100 to make up less questions. John is too young to play board games now, but when he is older, I could easily play this game a variety of packets we could use:

1. have a list of words for him to read aloud
2. have a list of simple math problems (addition, subtraction)
3. have a list of list of shapes or colors he has to say
4. pick out what doesn't belong in a group of items
5. have a list of states/cities/countries he has to pick out on a map (ummm...I can't even do that though!)
6. have a list of patterns for him to complete

Already have a worksheet ready for today's lesson? Well, just use that instead of making up a new packet! You may have to number your spaces accordingly, but that is easier than making up 100 questions! :)

Can you think of more ways to use board games to teach your child or students?

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  1. Hi Jen!.. My daughter is a teacher, I am new to homeschooling with my son this year... AND I love crafts! I found you via your paper bag scrap book post... and now I'm a follower! Nice to meet you, and I look forward to visiting again soon! ~tina


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