Like most educators I know I have been learning everything I can about how to best support students who are face-to-face being socially distant as well as those who are learning remotely. Recently, in one of the Facebook educator groups, I am a member of I came across an amazing discussion about content-driven games that you can play with elementary students in a remote setting. It got me thinking of what games I already play that could work with students in this environment.
With a bit more research I collected eight games that can be applied to a variety of lessons and content areas. Many of these can also be used in a socially distant classroom or when working with both remote and face-to-face students at the same time. These are all games shared and collected from a variety of sources and from many different educators. These are what I like to call borrowed from borrowed ideas.
Here are eight games you can play with elementary students virtually, face-to-face, or in any other mix you might have.
Stand-Up and Sit-Down Game
This game is so simple but adds a movement, which I love. All it requires is a series of questions with two options for answers, such as yes or no. Have students stand up if the answer is yes and sit down to answer no. This can also be played by spreading your arms wide for one answer and giving yourself a hug for another. Still, another way would be to hold up one finger or two fingers.
This works better in a remote environment, but I am sure could be modified for in-person learning. When working on a topic have students go and find something in their home to support the lesson. For example, after reading aloud the book The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Adam Rex the students found an object in their house that could be used in battle like the characters in the book. They shared the object and why it would win with their classmates as part of the discussion.
Freeze Dance and Listen and Move
We like to play Freeze Dance Library Style. After reading a book we then play freeze dance to discuss the story. When the music stops we discuss a comprehension question. You can also use Listen and Move instead. We usually do this one standing in one place and only complete the first half. Before switching to a new move we answer a question from the story.
I have been using this game for years! It is an oldie, but a goodie! It is a free PowerPoint guessing game. When students answer a question correctly they get to choose a number to see if they can find the hidden treasure. There are ten different game boards. You can see how this game works by watching this video. Click here to download this game and others. We also like the Big Wheel and Racing games too!
Four Corners Using Jamboard
This game was suggested by Caitlyn Hanley. She plays Virtual Four Corners using Google Jamboard. She makes a Jamboard and shares it with her students. In each corner, the numbers one through four are listed. Then she tells her students to make a sticky note with their name on it. She reads a question aloud and gives four choices. The students then move their sticky note to the corner they agree with.
Basically, students have sixty seconds to sketch something related to the topic of discussion. For example, while reading a book aloud you could stop and ask them to draw a picture of something that has happened in the beginning. This works great on a whiteboard so they can quickly erase and draw something new.
This activity works great after a read-aloud to allow for discussion. You create six questions related to what you have read. Then you roll a dice and answer the question based on the number you get. This is normally done with a partner, but we have changed this to a virtual game using an online dice and talking in a group. You could take it a step further and use Flipgrid or Padlet for discussion too. Here are some example questions that we just used with the book Fireboat by Maira Kalman.
- 1 = The title of this book is Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. Why is this a good title for this book?
- 2 = Share one event from the beginning, middle, and end of this book.
- 3 = Would you want to visit John J. Harvey? Why or why not?
- 4 = What did you find the most interesting about this book?
- 5 = What did the author do to leave us feeling proud and happy after a sad event?
- 6 = What other questions do you have after reading Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey?
This is a great game for helping students make visual connections and allow them to analyze. It is also a great opportunity to show students primary sources. To play you show them a picture and have them create a caption in the chat. Then you would discuss the caption as you read each one aloud. A suggestion for giving students time to think would be to set a timer. Tell students to type their answers but wait until the timer goes off to submit it.
Do you have any games that are working well for you? I would love to hear about them!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).