Games for Learning-MS Classroom

ERPD-April 20, 2016

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Can Adapted for Any Subject

Scoot-Thanks Tiffeny Morrison-EIMS

SCOOT! The students LOVE hearing that word (or variations like Scooch, Scurry, Skedaddle during the game.) They know "Scoot" means they will be doing an activity that involves moving around the classroom.

Here's how it works: 1. Place a task card at each student desk. 2. Students create a recording sheet or use a handout. 3. Students begin by answering the questions at their own desk. 4. When prompted by the word Scoot (or whatever you decide) students move to the desk that would be next in numerical order. 5. When you see that the task is completed - prompt the movement again and repeat until all cards are complete.

These activities, which are usually a quick 5 minutes, can be a lesson activator, review of a concept or used as formative assessment.

Charades Race-Great for Vocabulary

Teams compete against each other to complete a predetermined list of items. We use the term "compete" loosely, as it is a charades race, afterall...

  1. Divide the group into 2 or more teams.
  2. Have the group spread out so that they can't overhear the next team's answers.
  3. Ask one member from each team to come to the you.
  4. Whisper the first word into the ears of the volunteers, and release them to their groups at the same time.
  5. Once a member of the group guesses the word correctly, someone new runs to the instructor for the next word. Advise the group when you are giving instructions that no one can come up for a word twice until everyone has gone up once. This helps ensure that everyone participates.
  6. The team members must tell the instructor what word their team just guessed, and the instructor tells the new volunteer the next word on the list.
  7. The object of the game is to complete the entire list without cheating.

Cooperative Jigsaw

The Barter Puzzle

Break your team into groups of equal members. Give each team a distinctly different jigsaw activity of equal difficulty. Explain that they have a set amount of time to complete the puzzle as a group. Explain that some of the pieces in their puzzle belong to the other puzzles in the room. The goal is to complete their puzzle before the other groups, and that they must come up with their own method of convincing the other teams to relinquish the pieces they need, whether through barter, exchange of team members, donating time to another team, a merger, etc. Whatever they choose to do, they must do it as a group.


Materials: Small piece of paper, shoe box or coffee can. Write words on pieces of paper and fold them in half (sight words, vocab, blends, math problems, etc.). Also add a few cards that say "BANG!".

Students take turns picking cards and if they read the word correctly or answer the problem correctly, they get to keep the word. If they draw a BANG! card they yell BANG! and then return all their cards (except the BANG! card) to the can/box. Very simple but the kids love it and there are many variations for the game!

Bet you can't

Bet you can't: This game can be played in millions and millions of different ways, and essentially it's : Give each student the same amount of or tokens at the start. Have the students bet each other that they can't do something. "I bet you can't... (multiply these numbers, solve this problem, define this word, etc.)". The students bet using the tokens. You can finish in one class, or keep running totals. You can play with teams too.

Find It fast

In Find It Fast! students not only answer review questions, they must find the answers they seek among many possibilities. The game can be adapted for all subjects in part because all kinds of answers can be used -- numbers, shapes, words, letters, and so on. The game can also be applied at all levels by adjusting the number of questions and answers, their difficulty, the degree of similarity between them.

In preparation for this game, select the subjects for review and create a list of questions with answers. The number of questions will vary according to your preferences and the grade level. You might begin with ten questions and answers, use them, and then start over with a new set of ten, and so on. Write the answers in random order on the chalkboard.

When you are ready to play, divide the students into two teams in lines. Read a question from your list. At your signal, the two students who are first in their lines run to the chalkboard and point to what they believe is the answer to the question. Each player must touch only one answer, and the first player to reach the correct answer earns a point for his team. If neither student chooses the correct answer, read the question again for the next students in line.


  • Add to the challenge of this game by reusing some answers!
  • When a student is the first to find a correct answer, you may require him or her to explain why it is the appropriate response before a point is awarded, or you could award a second point for an accurate explanation of the proper answer.
  • Pose difficult questions that the students can discuss as a team, with one member of each team in turn "racing" to the correct answer.


    The team with the most points at the completion of the game is the winner.

  • - See more at:

    Scholarly Squares

    In the pattern of the television program "Hollywood Squares," this review game calls on students to play the roles of "stars" and team members as they try to obtain three X's or O's in a row. In preparation for the game, select several review questions with answers.

    Fold in half a sheet of heavy construction paper or oak tag. Open up the sheet and draw in big X in one section of the folded page and a big O in the other. Do the same thing with eight (8) additional sheets of paper. Place those sheets on nine desks arranged in a square of three rows of three desks each. The blank side of each paper shape should be displayed in front.

    As questions are answered, the persons ("stars") seated at the desks will fold the sheets inside-out to reveal the X or the O.

    Draw names or select nine students to serve as the game's "stars" who sit in the nine desks. Divide the other students evenly into two teams, and choose one team to go first as "X" and the other as "O."

  • The first team selects a "star," and the teacher asks the chosen student a review question.
  • The star gives an answer.
  • The team members discuss the question and answer briefly, then decide to agree or disagree with the answer.
  • Then the teacher reveals the correct response. If the answer is correct and the team agreed with it or if the answer is not correct and the team disagreed with it, the "star" turns the paper on his or her desk inside-out to reveal the "X." If the team did not agree with the star's right answer or agreed with an incorrect answer, the star's paper remains blank.
  • The "O" team takes its turn and play continues

    In the next game, the "O" team becomes the "X" team and goes first. You may also rotate new students into the role of "stars."

    For more fun, have students choose popular (and appropriate) personalities to imitate when they are "stars" for a game. They could write the names of those personalities on their paper displays, so that the teams can address them "accurately"!


    The team that is first to achieve three X's or O's in a row is the winner of each round.

  • - See more at:


    The rules of baseball are adapted in this lesson that provides review practice for students. With a little creativity, the lesson can be adapted to almost any subject or skill.

    Before the Lesson
    Prepare a long list of questions that provide math practice, information recall, or skill application. Following are some examples:

    • If you teach math, you might collect simple questions or math problems that reinforce your students' skills or provide math fact practice.

    • If you teach language arts, you might prepare sentences that include one grade-appropriate error of punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Or you might provide a word and two definition choices; the students' job will be to identify the correct definition.
    • If you teach science or history, you might create questions of fact recall or vocabulary. Or you might create riddles that provide clues to the identity of an important figure in history/science, followed by the question, "Who am I?"

      The Lesson
      Set up a "baseball field" in your classroom. Identify the locations of home plate, first base, second base, and third base. You can use actual bases or four desks.

      Arrange the class into two teams. Flip a coin to determine which team will be "up to bat" first. Pose the first question to the first batter. If the batter gets the question right, s/he goes to first base. If the second batter correctly answers the next question, s/he goes to first base, forcing the student on first base to move to second and so the game goes. Which team scores the most runs?

      If a "batter" misses a question, that batter is out and the next batter gets a chance to answer the same question. Three misses and the other team takes the field.

      Extending the Lesson
      You might

      • provide questions of varying levels of difficulty. Students could opt to answer a "double" question. Double questions are more difficult, but a correct answer will earn students two bases; that way, they can move along the runners more quickly.
      • opt to give each team 4 or 5 outs per inning (if you feel there is too much movement in the game).
      • keep track of their own hits, runs scored, runs batted in, and batting averages.
    - See more at:

    Salt and Pepper

    What You’ll Need: Tape, a pen, a small piece of paper for each person, and a list of well-known pairs (think peanut butter and jelly, Mario and Luigi, or salt and pepper).

    Instructions: Write one half of each pair on the sheets of paper (Mario on one piece, Luigi on another, and so on). Tape one paper to each person’s back, then have everyone mingle and try to figure out the word on their back. The rule: they can only ask each other yes or no questions. Once they figure out their word, they need to find the other half of their pair. When they find each other, have them sit down and find three things they have in common while the rest of the class continues.

    **The outline of this game is so easy to adapt to any subject. You could use this like terms, vocab words and definitions, figurative language, analogies, cause and effect, etc...

    Cups And Downs

    You Will Need: 20 or more cups

    How To: Place the cups in the middle of the room. Half should be upside down, and the other half should be right up.

    Divide the teens into two teams and name one team ‘up’ and other ‘down’.

    The ‘up’ team has to turn the right way cups down, and the ‘down’ team has the flip the upside down cups. Assign a specific time to complete the task.

    After the allotted time, count the cups.

    The team that has the most turned cups will be the winner.

    **The outline of this game is easy to adapt to any subject. You could use this like terms, vocab words and definitions, figurative language, analogies, cause and effect, etc... Allow the winning team chose which questions to answer-up cups or down cups)

    Brain Surgery-Jigsaw activity

    Split your group up into smaller groups, and give each group a brain, with a problem, definition, reading passage, etc. Each group should cut the paper into different pieces. (don't tell them what the next steps are at this point).

    Have them exchange pieces with another group

    The goal is for each group to reassemble the brain and solve the problem.

    • Or: You can already have the content ready on the brain and cut into pieces. Students will reassemble and answer the question.

    Escape Room Strategy Games

    Breakout Education

    This website scales down the escape room concept to a box. All the games are free and you do not have to purchase the box. You do have to register to get access to the games and to the blank template-to create your own game.

    **This a strategy where students work together to solve clues, puzzles, hints, etc to complete the mystery, assignment, etc. Could be a fun tool for EOG Review

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    Mini GameShow

    The Rules:

    Divide students into two teams and give each student a number. Number 1 from each team comes to the front of the room. The teacher reads a clue related to a word (the clue could be a definition or example of the word) and the first person to slap the board or desk gets to answer. If correct, his team earns a point. If incorrect, the person from the other team has a chance to earn a point. Repeat with the following sets of students. The team with the most points wins.

    Materials Needed:

    • Clues for each word

    How to Expand the Game:

    • With further preparation, you can arrange the clues on the board according to category with varying points and difficulties, just like on TV.

    Look Out For:

    • Depending on your comfort level, you can prepare the clues in advance or make up clues on the spot.

    Possible Modifications for ELLs and Students with Special Needs:

    • Post possible words on the chalkboard.
    • Have students compete from their seats rather than come to the front of the class.
    • Have students compete in teams.

    Circle Rotation

    The Rules:

    Divide class into two groups and have them form an inner and outer circle, with students facing each other. For the first 15 seconds, each student in the inner circle asks a prepared vocabulary question (about spelling, pronunciation, definition, example, etc.) to the student she is facing. If the outer-circle student answers correctly, the inner-circle student signs his word list. For the next 15 seconds, the outer-circle student asks the inner-circle student a question, and signs her sheet if she answers correctly. Then students rotate to the right and repeat the process with the new students they face. Whoever has the most signatures at the end of the game time wins.

    Materials Needed:

    • List of words for each student
    • Pen for each student

    How to Expand the Game:

    • Play until everyone has reached his or her original partner.

    Look Out For:

    • Make sure to demonstrate different types of vocabulary questions.
    • If you have an odd number of students, make one student the “supervisor” who walks around the circle to keep other students on task.

    Possible Modifications for ELLs and Students with Special Needs:

    • Give students one minute or more to prepare questions. They can use the same questions multiple times.
    • Expand question-and-answer time to 30 seconds or a minute.

    Drawing Pictures

    Divide your team into groups of two each. Have each person sit with their back to the other. One person will have a picture. The other person will have a blank sheet of paper and a pen. The team member with the picture must not show the other person the image. Instead, the are to describe the image without using words that give it away, while the other team member is to draw what is being described.

    For example, the picture might be of an elephant standing on a ball. The description cannot be “draw an elephant on the ball” but instead must use other adjectives and directions. After a set time limit, the drawing time ends and both team members view the original picture and the drawing.

    **Purpose: This is an exercise that focuses on communication and language. While the final drawing will seldom look like the picture, it is revealing to participants to see how different the interpretation of instructions can be even when they are supposedly talking about the same thing.

    Subject Specific

    ELA Games

    Context Clues

    Using context clues is a skill that you can introduce, practice, and review at any point during the school year, even in the last few weeks of school!

    This center game is perfect for older kiddos as it uses a smart phone theme:

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    Math Games


    Adding Integers Game
    In this game students will practice adding positive and negative integers.

    Subtracting Integers Game
    In this game students will practice adding positive and negative integers. By playing these games, young students can learn math in an innovative way. The interactive games on this webpage will help children understand math better. The more they play, the more they will learn math and have fun at the same time.

    Testing Strategies

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    Check back because I will add more games as I find them.