It is a joy when kids pay attention to a topic in school, especially when it is out of pure interest; however, eagerness might not always be a child’s initial reaction to learning. In fact, many might prefer playing outdoors with friends.
To bring that same spirit of curiosity and fun into the classroom, teachers have started and should continue to incorporate educational games into their classroom’s daily agenda.
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Educational games entail everything from trivia to strategy. They promote brain development and quick reaction and reflex skills. Hangman, for example, is great for teaching spelling and vocabulary. Even an activity as simple as Bingo can be multi-purposed and turned into a mental math or historical fact game. Students can build a bridge to grasp the rules of suspension.
Games can be a platform for students to have empirical, hands-on data. For example, a teacher can ask students to calculate someone’s odds of winning or landing on a “4” with a dice, and the students can experiment to see if their hypothesis was correct.
If a teacher has easy access to technology, there should be no reason why they can’t incorporate computer and videogames into the classroom.
Board games and card games are also fun and easy enough to set up at the students’ tables. These types of activities promote more social interaction and cooperation with their peers, allowing them to get to know one another. Not only that, but certain games also offer students an opportunity to develop and become more familiar with their individual strengths.
Students could even be encouraged to create their own game based on the information that needs to be learned and/or presented. They can set up the goals and objectives to the game, which offers students an opportunity to voice their opinions. Furthermore, while still being fun, creating and playing these games can also prepare them for real world scenarios of teamwork, multitasking and troubleshooting.
Having your students create their own board game is a great way for them to explore their imagination, and it won’t cost you much to get those imaginative brains thinking outside of the box– literally! Have your students reuse gift boxes to make a base board for their game. Not only will they be having fun in designing their game, but reusing these boxes can also teach them to be more eco-friendly and environmentally aware.
By activating learning from a different approach, games help to expand students’ minds and give them a newfound sense of appreciation for history and the struggles for people in the past and present. For instance, students can have a role-playing game – how would the Pilgrims have felt landing at Plymouth Rock or Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War?
Moreover, games takes the students and the teacher away from the monotony of another lecture. A teacher may even realize that using a game to teach a subject is more effective.
Even turning homework assignments or test preparation sessions into games could be a good incentive for students to learn and earn high grades. Having a prize involved is even more enticing for kids to figure out the right answers.
A teacher can also recruit the help of other educators. The school or local librarian can also be a great source of information to find appropriate games as they can make sure these games are up-to-date with the most accurate information.
Games also help students better retain information. Ever hear a person say they can recall random, useless facts, yet the information they actually need to know in school never sticks? Fun moments are more memorable than dull ones – get a student completely absorbed in a game and he or she is more likely to retain what they need to remember. Educational games are proving to be a winning way to effectively engage students in the classroom and get them excited about learning.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Southern California. As the mother of a special needs child she has a lot of experience with educational and game therapy, and is always happy to share what she knows. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.