Why hello there lovely 🙂 I am so excited to be writing this post for you! One of the things I love to do in my classes is play games. I teach classes from Years 7-12, and no matter which class I am in front of, if I say at the end of the lesson we will be playing XXX, my students get excited and motivated to complete their work to play the game! Over the years, I have collected quite a few games that work with my classes. Most games require no equipment or special skills. The only required ingredient is a willingness to participate. It never ceases to amaze me when students who are usually quiet and reluctant to be involved in the lesson, will suddenly come alive during a game.
So why play games? There is a lot of research out there. You only need do a search and you will find lots of reasons why it is important to play games, no matter your age. I will not go into the science here, I am not qualified to spout about it, but I will give you the reasons why I do play games with my classes on a very regular basis.
The main reason I play games in my class is simple – to have fun. When you have a group of students, who really do not have anything in common except for the fact that they are all together in your class, playing a game can be a good leveller. I deliberately choose games that involve a lot of movement, make a lot of noise, and will inevitably end with participants in a state of the giggles. There is method to my madness though, when a group of people share an experience together, especially a positive one, they start to “bond”. There are studies that discuss how dopamine is released, and this “feel good” release as a group somehow binds people. I can’t exactly explain it, but what I can tell you is that playing and having fun together will unify the group in a positive way.
In the beginning of the year, when I first meet a class, I firstly do the usual introductions and run through the expectations. After this, I will show the students how I want them to “pull apart” the classroom to set up a space to play the games. This is probably one of the most important procedures I teach – how to dismantle and set the class back up! Each class eventually gets this down to a fine art. Then we will all sit on a chair in a circle. From this set up, we can play several games. This first set of FIVE games require NO equipment or special skills, just a willingness to be involved.
Below you will find my FIVE most favourite games to play. These games are what I would typically play when I meet a new class for the first time. They are mainly “get to know you” type games, especially as it helps myself, and the class, to know each other’s names! Now please keep in mind that I am a Music teacher and most of my games will involve music in some way- BUT these games can be used in any subject.
Round We Go
This game is an easy one that is meant to help students learn each other’s name.
While sitting in a circle, demonstrate an easy clapping pattern – for example four steady claps and then four beats of silence, then continue to repeat. Get the group following along at first so that everyone has the idea of the speed set.
Ask the class to stop and explain that in the “space” or “silence” starting with the teacher (or designated person) they will say their name, then in the next silence the next person will say their name, etc… Continue going around the circle until everyone has said their name.
Variations- musically you could change up the clapping pattern, change the direction, play the beats on instruments (drums or percussion), or even speed the pace up or down. For some more humorous variations try asking the group to say what they had for breakfast, what they ate for dinner, the names of their pet, how many siblings, what school they came from? The only limitation is your imagination.
Next in Line
This one is good to play after Round We Go!
Seat the students in a circle. Have each student say their name, maybe go around the circle a couple of times, especially if this the first time they have met each other.
Choose someone to be in the centre. Instruct the students that the person in the centre might point to you. As they do, check which hand they use to point with. If it is their right hand you must say the name of the person on your right, if it is the left hand, the person on your left. If the person being pointed at gets it wrong, they are in the centre. Alternatively, you could play it as an elimination game, if they get the name wrong they are out.
Where the Wind Blows
For this one, be warned – it can get a little rough! But my students will request this one on a regular basis. Everyone, except one person, should be on a seat in a circle. The odd one out stands in the middle and will say “Where the wind blows, it blows people with….” They might say something like “Where the wind blows, it blows people with shoelaces”. At this point, everyone with shoelaces on must get out of their seat and quickly swap to another spot in the circle. Players cannot move to the seat beside them, they must move a bit of a distance. The person left without a seat is the next person to say “Where the wind blows, it blows people with…” and the game continues.
As stated, this game can get a little rough – students will start to “dive” for seats. Put a few rules in place before you play this game about going for seats, you don’t want anyone hurt. You will also have to make some rules about what can and cannot be said in the “where the wind blows….” you do not want to alienate people – the game is meant to show students who has what in common.
Send it Quick
This is another simple game involving the whole group seated in a circle. It is a calm one, maybe a good one to play after Where the Wind Blows!
The aim is to send the “clap” quickly around the circle in a certain direction. The first-person claps, then the next, the next etc…. This could be done in time with a steady beat or song at first.
Variations- Start the game slow, then try and get the group to be progressively quicker sending the clap around the circle until you almost have one long sound being sent around the circle. Another variation is to have a different rhythm being performed or even play the sounds on percussion instruments.
1 to 20
This game sounds easy, but can be very difficult for a group who does not work well together.
Students can be seated at their desks or in a circle. the idea is for the group to get “From 1 to 20” without more than one person saying a number at a time. The number you choose to make the final number can be changed depending on the group size. if more than one person says the same number, the the game must start again. The only rule of the game that I like to give is – it just can’t go around the circle/room. You may choose other rules like – it must go boy/girl/boy/girl in sequence, or no hand/body signals. I have only had a couple of classes be successful at this old standard. I find it sometimes a good thing to give the class thinking/strategy time to prepare – that way they can usually succeed.
I find that this is a great game to have a discussion about cooperation in the classroom and why it is important to listen to each other.
Each of these games can take anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour to play. You only need to be aware of when the class is getting tired of the game, then it is time to change to another activity.
Would you like some more FREE games to play in your classes? Of course you do, we all love FREE stuff! Sign up for the FREE email course. In the course, you will receive a new email each day, over five days. Each day you will get another 5 games to play in your classes. Some of the games require no equipment or prior preparation, other games will. For the games that have printable resources you need to play them, you will be sent those resources for FREE!!!! So, what have you got to lose? Nothing! Sign up now for the FREE Games Email Course here.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya