The day before a long break is often one of the hardest days as a teacher. It is these sorts of days where teachers make the joke of “just put on a movie” since it seems like the students are incapable of being taught anything. With everyone’s minds on the family gatherings, vacation trips, or general time of relaxation so near at hand, it is especially hard to keep students’ attention and interest in class materials. However, we don’t want to waste the precious minutes we have with our students and make school that day feel like a waste for both you and them. So, what can be done to make the day productive?
Over the years, I have found that there are many simple ways to incorporate game-like activities into my lessons on these days that work wonders at keeping the students engaged with the content. As I have culled through several different activities over the years, I have often run into the issue that there is far too much time spent on the game mechanics rather than the content. I find that such activities waste class minutes and make my period feel more like recess than a class. The games I am about to describe focus mostly on the content of the students’ work with just enough game feel to make the students eager to participate.
Playing jeopardy is a great way to conduct a review in any content class. I have four rows of desks, so I split my students into teams that way. There is an online site called jeopardylabs.com where you can make an official jeopardy board; however I usually will just ask questions on the chalkboard. To make the game easier to conduct, I will go down the row, addressing a question to one row at a time. All my students need to solve the questions because the row must have half of their students get the question correct for the row to get the point. If half do not get the correct answer, other rows have the opportunity to steal the point. I am able to review a lot of material using this format and the students are eager to participate.
Math Fact Battleship
This game is great for younger grades that are trying to learn their math facts. Print off some hundreds charts with the centers blank. Then, have the students independently fill in the middle, either adding or multiplying. The teacher should have two filled in copies. On one, the teacher should choose 4-5 basic shapes that will be their “ships.” Show the students what those shapes look like and then secretly color those shapes in on one of your hundreds charts. Project the second chart to the students. Call on students one at a time to say a fact pair, such as 7 x 4 = 28. If one of your ships is in the square with that math fact answer, shade it in; if there isn’t a ship there, cross it out. Keep going until the students find all your ships!