Let’s talk about game in the classroom.
They teach so many skills and they are so engaging! Turn taking, waiting, listening to peers just to name a few. I use them every single day in my classroom. Here’s a few ideas for incorporating them into your schedule and teaching students how to play.
Our students often need explicit instruction to learn skills, and games are often no different. Start with basic social games, engaging back and forth. Then try move to a simple task using game pieces like putting in Connect Four chips or rolling dice and moving the number of spaces without taking turns. Build skills slowly and explicitly for success. Once those skills are solid, incorporate peers.
Ways to use Games:
Use Them Before Direct Instruction
We always talk about being the chocolate chip cookie. Games are a great way to build rapport with your students. Try playing one on one with a student first, then slowly incorporate other peers.
Use Games in Centers
Centers don’t always have to focus on academics! Grab some engaging, fun games and start playing in centers. If you can, pick games that move quickly and take very little time. Extensive board games are probably not the best idea, but games like Catch the Fox, Pop the Pig, Hungry Hungry Hippo and Crocodile Dentist will be best.
When the weather turns cold, rainy or snowy, games are the perfect solution! Indoor recess gives you a block of time you weren’t planning on, and games are the perfect no-prep solution.
Consider bringing in general education peers to play with your students. The skills here go BOTH ways – not only are we teaching our students how to take turns and wait, we are teaching neurotypical peers how to interact, accept and understand differences, show kindness, patience and respect to our students.
No matter how you choose to use games in your classroom, I’d encourage you to find the time. It’s often hard as an educator to put academics aside, but our students need us to do exactly that! Even 5 minutes of game play a day will help your students build huge skills! I’ve rounded up my favorite games on this blog post, but don’t think you have to go out and buy a million games! Social and physical games like Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, Red Rover, and Duck Duck Goose are perfect to start off! Start incorporating them into your schedule and watch your students grow!