"You don't stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing."
This quote at the beginning of Chapter 4 in our book study hits the nail right on the head for me. I have used games in my classroom for as long as I can remember. They play in structured games during Math and Daily 5. They also play in games of their own making in Choosing Time. I don't think I could enjoy teaching without games in my classroom.
Here's my thinking on this strategy...
Games are a wonderful way to add to our learning. They are fun. They let us play with friends. They help us to learn many social expectations (taking turns, sharing etc) and they help us practice and refine our understanding of concepts. What's not to love?!?!
Math games are one of my Must Do's during math rotations. They play a number of different card games (i.e.Addition War) and also games like BUMP, Snakes and Ladders and a bunch of games I have purchased from Scholastic over the years. One of the best things about games is that I can easily modify them for different students. For example, when playing BUMP the kids can choose between using two dice or three. The more dice, the higher number they have to add. They can self monitor and work at a level that feels right to them. I have found that math games are the perfect way to reinforce and practice the math facts that we do during seat work activities. The kids are practicing without realizing it; they just think they are playing a game!!!
I use games as well during my Daily 5 time. I haven't put out as many this year (to be honest, I don't know where they all are as I didn't get to clean up my classroom last year what with the strike and all...) One that has been super successful has been Go Fish with ABC's. I pulled it out when I got a student in my class who spoke no English. I played with him every day for a week or so. Then I taught some other students how to play. He loved it AND he has learned most of his letters as a result! And the other students love to be able to be the "teacher" for a little while. Win win!!!!
In addition to the organized game playing that I do during Math Rotations and Daily 5, I also encourage game playing during Choosing Time (aka Centres). Sometimes students choose to play games that they know like Chess or UNO. Other times they engage in creative game playing making up their own rules. I feel that this time is invaluable. I have had adults ask me why I let the students have Choosing Time. Some have basically told me that Choosing Time does not have a place in a grade 1/2 classroom. To them, I say that I emphatically disagree and, after reading this chapter, I will give them the quote above that I love so much.