Often times when I mention using games in the classroom, I am met with a look. A look of bewilderment. I’m surprised by this because I thought games were a more mainstreamed thing, but I guess it’s not. I started digging around and realized that there’s this belief that they are busy work rather than educational. I’m here to set the record straight on that one. There are a lot of benefits to using games in the classroom!
First, when I mention games, I want to clarify that I’m referring to board games and printable paper-like games. I’m not referring to console games or game-based learning. Those are two different things. Though the benefits and beliefs are the same.
After researching, I discovered that some teachers believe that games can lead to off-task behavior and just creates misconduct on the students part. I also learned that many teachers don’t like them because they feel there is no educational value to them.
Along with the belief that they are purely busy work, there are teachers who hold the belief that they can be “too competitive” and not healthy for a child’s self-esteem or mindset.
I was also surprised that the prep time was another reason listed. But I definitely understand the time-consuming process of teaching how to play a new game.
The Benefits of Using Games in the Classroom
I want to combat the ones listed above.
- First, typically games do not lead to off-task behavior, nor misconduct because games often immerse the students into the situation of the game. They are highly engaged and motivated that they aren’t thinking about misbehaving.
- Second, while some games are “competitive,” there is nothing we can do, as teachers, to avoid this in life. Competition is everywhere. Instead, we should be teaching the children how to deal with victory and defeat.
- Third, it could be a little time-consuming in the beginning, once the students have the rules down, then they are set the rest of the year to continually play that game. For instance, if you teach multiplication top-it (like “war”) then they also know how to play any other version of “war”- division war, fraction war, etc.).
Here are some other benefits of using games:
- Students apply what they have learned when playing. This provides immediate gratification because they are using it right away!
- Students are practicing the skill they learned and other important skills, such as social skills and problem-solving skills.
- It aids with dips in concentration levels – perfect for your students who have ADD or ADHD.
- It appeals to a variety of different learning styles so you can meet the needs of all your students. (And you can use games to individualize instruction in small groups. Differentiation, yay!)
- It helps students practice communication and important vocabulary.
- It creates a positive learning environment and a shared learning experience.
- It’s a platform for creative thinking.
- In math, it helps students reason mathematically and strategically.
- It’s highly motivational and engaging.
- It develops self-confidence.
AND… the most surprising… according to research, it reduces the gap between quicker and slower learners!
The best part is that games are so incredibly flexible and can be adapted to any content area.
My next blog post is going to be exciting. It will be all about some whole group games that you can use in your classroom to help you get started on bumping up your students and boost that engagement.