This year I am focusing on making sure that I build in review activities. I don’t always want to just ask questions at the beginning of my lesson to see what students remember. I want some activities that get my students up and moving, wanting to participate. Studies show that game-based learning increases student achievement. My students come in each day looking forward to whatever review activity I have planned and that enthusiasm carries into my lesson. I find that my students have a much better attitude about studying more difficult content after playing an engaging game. I like it it because I know it isn’t just a game, it is reinforcement of prior learning.
Here are some of my favorite review games I have used this year:
This is a super simple game that only requires a small basketball hoop. I got mine at the Dollar Store and just covered the backboard with scrapbook paper to match my room. I have it hanging on my front board and pose a question to the class before calling on someone to answer. If that person answers correctly, they get to get up and shoot a basket. If they make it, they earn a point. I switch it up all the time; sometimes we do it as groups and sometimes as individuals. You can change it up however it suits your needs. Sometimes I let the person who answered the question choose who is going to shoot the basket if they don’t want to or will have two students shoot at the same time with the first to get it in winning the point.
What’s My Word?
All you need for this game are some sticky notes and a little time to write. Simply write down key words that you want kids to know on each note and then place the sticky note on their forehead. Students then have to get up and walk around, asking other students only yes or no questions to try and figure out what their word is. This can be used with almost anything you are studying. For example, while doing a unit on mythology, I would write down all the names of the Greek gods and goddesses. If I am trying to guess my word (which is Zeus) I could ask questions like; Am I a god? Yes. Is the lightning bolt my symbol? Yes. -etc.
My kids love this one! I first bought several fly swatters at the Dollar Store. I write a bunch of words from whatever we are studying on the board and choose two students to come up and each hold a fly swatter. I ask a question and the first student to slap the correct answer earns a point for their team. They then choose the next person to come up. Recently, I did it as a vocab review. The students had to slap the vocab word that matched the definition I read.
This is a great game if you are studying a topic that can be sorted. You write the categories up on the board. I typed up statements that would go under each category and taped them on the side of the board. I then called up however many students I had statements for to grab a statement and tape it under the category of best fit.. After all statements are up, I tell the class the number of statements that are under the wrong category. I don’t say what statement or what category. I then ask a student to come up and select a statement they feel is under the wrong category and they must state why they feel it is incorrectly placed and what category it should be moved to and why. I love this one because it gets kids to explain their thinking.
I love this one for reading comprehension. I took a beach ball that is blown up and wrote who, what, when, where, why on it. We then toss it up in the air and whoever catches it tells me what word is in front of them and I then ask a question based on the word. This does require me to think on the spot, but you can also pre generate questions of each type beforehand.
Crumple & Shoot
Divide your class into smaller groups and give each group some notebook paper. I usually pre-tear or cut it into quarters. Ask students a question and as a group, they must decide their answer and write it down before I call time. Once time is called, all groups raise up their answers. If wrong, I take the answer. If right, they crumble their answer into a paper ball and try to shoot it into a wastebasket. If they get it in, their team gets a point.
This is a popular game with more detailed directions online. The gist is that each group draws something on the board, generally matching the theme of our learning. If I am in Ancient Egypt, I have them draw a pyramid. I then ask a group a question and if they get the right answer they get to attack. They go up to the board and draw an x on 3 other pyramids. If they answer wrong, I draw an x on their pyramid. You then ask another group a question and so on. Once a team has 5 x’s (or however many you decide) on their pyramid, they are out however they can still answer questions and try to get others out.
Race to the Board
I actually played this game when I was in AP U.S. History and still love playing it with my classes today. I divide the board into however many groups I have in class. I ask the class a question and one person from each group races to the board and writes down their answer. The first person to write the correct answer gets the point for their group.
This one takes a bit of work to set up, but if you teach the same content again the following year, it is easy to reuse. I use it as a review before a test. First, you create a grid, mine was a 4 x 6 so it had 24 questions. You print out the questions on a piece of computer paper so there is one question per sheet and these are laid down on the floor in your grid. On another piece of paper, I have the grid laid out with the answers to the questions. On this paper, I have drawn a path – usually my path for 24 questions is about 10 answers long. I choose one student to be the leader and they get the answer/maze sheet and the rest of the group forms a line. The first person chooses a perimeter question, steps on it, and answers the question. If they answer it correctly, the leader tells them if it is the correct space on the path to start. If they answer wrong, they go to the back of the line and don’t find out if it is the answer. The next person steps up. If the previous person answered the question correctly and got the correct space on the path, the second person has to re-answer that question and then choose another question to answer to see if it is on the right path and so on. In order to complete the activity all students in the line must go through the maze, answering all the questions as they go. This is really great because they have to pay attention to previous answers and the pathway so they don’t get something wrong.As students don’t know the path before the game begins, they end up answering lots of extra questions along the way. I usually run three or four mazes in the room using the same questions, just a different pathway, for each group. This activity is one of my students’ all time favorites all year.
I am always looking for new ideas so if you have a review game that you love, please share it. I’d love to add to my bank of games.