Learning with Games

A ‘Sharing best practice’ post by Sarah Fox (Food Technology)

Reading time: 2 minutes

‘To play or not to play?’, that is the question.  Are games a valuable tool in the teacher’s arsenal of learning strategies or are they a distraction and trivialisation of education?

Go fish

Figure 1: Go Fishing: hook yourself a question and provide an answer.  Get it right and keep your catch.  Get it wrong and the fish goes back in the pond

There are those who would argue that we as teachers are ‘educators not entertainers’ and there are indeed times when we need to remind our pupils of that.  However, there are also times when the enthusiasm and engagement engendered by ‘playing’ a game in class can be harnessed to serve the teacher’s purpose, whether it be to acquire knowledge, reinforce learning or to develop critical thinking skills.

Jenga

Figure 2: Jenga.  Take a question from the pile and a block with a points score written on it.  Answer the question and score the points.  Get it wrong and no points are scored and the question goes back in the pile

As teachers our priority is to ensure that the learning behind our choice of teaching strategy remains the key focus of our lessons and games do not become an end in themselves.

Guess who - what's for dinner

Figure 3: Guess What’s for Dinner? Swap the cards in the ‘Guess who?’ boxes for food related words and concepts and then take it turn to question your opponent until you have worked out what the answer is

Games do have many educational virtues to commend them, not least the development of social skills such as cooperation and teamwork  but perhaps above all, it is the sense of engagement they can foster that makes them a useful learning tool.

Labelling game

Figure 4: The Labelling Game  Compete with a friend to produce the most detailed ‘Nutri-Man’ and ‘Healthy Hands’

Taking the principle or format of some of the most popular or simple games that have stood the test of time and adapting them to the classroom can be a very effective teaching strategy.  Simplicity is key to making such games work.  Take a familiar format from a traditional game (snakes and ladders, hangman) or one from the popular culture (Who wants to be a millionaire?, Top Trumps, Guess Who?) and you have a head start as pupils know how to play the game.

A carousel of such games (as shown in the pictures) can make an engaging revision session.

Why not visit your local charity shops and pick up the games people no longer want and re-purpose them in your classroom!

Featured image: ‘Dice, game’ by OpenClip-Art Vectors on Pixabay.  Licensed under CC0 Public Domain

 

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Key word or fact jigsaws

(featured image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.co.uk)

A ‘Sharing best practice’ post by Victoria Ryan (MFL)

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest.  A simple activity to help pupils learn or revise key words, facts or information in any subject is the ‘Key word jigsaw’.

Easily prepared with paper, pen and scissors, just divide a sheet of paper into sections and in adjacent areas write a definition/piece of information and the key word/associated fact.

e.g. merci/thank you, Capital of Peru/Lima, Battle of Hastings/1066, process for producing petroleum from crude oil/refining

Write a key message/question/quotation in the centre of the sheet which will become fragmented when the sheet is cut up.  Place the pieces in an envelope and give to your pupils to solve.

key-word-jigsaw-1

The task is simple – reassemble the sheet, pairing up the key word with its definition, to reveal the message/question/quotation in the middle.

key-word-jigsaw-2

The activity requires little or no explanation and proves very engaging with pupils (and staff!).

A great little way to create a low stress method of testing/reinforcing learning.

Why not develop this further…

  • get pupils involved in devising their own jigsaws
  • build up a class set of different jigsaws to use as a revision tool
  • experiment with different shapes
  • use images as well as words
  • or if you want to go for an online version, why not try Tarsia puzzles (take a look at http://www.ideaseducation.co.uk/resources/Tarsia-guide.pdf  for a quick introduction)