Grade: Elementary
Subject: Games

Teachers.Net Lesson Plans

#165. Games that teach

Games, level: Elementary
Posted by Janice Harrison (
Teachers' World
Westgate Elem., Cadiz, OH
Materials Required: flashcards, spelling lists, or review facts
Activity Time: varies: 5-30 minutes
Concepts Taught: Review math facts, spelling words and content area facts

I am a great believer in games. The kids get so
involved and excited, they forget they are learning.
I've collected 10 of my favorites to share with you.
Some of the games I got from other people and some are
my own ideas. I always give a piece of candy, sticker, etc. to the winner. Of course, that is your choice. I hope you will save this file and try some of them
with your class. If you know of other good games that teach,
please post them on the messageboard.
1. Baseball Use this game to practice math facts or to review
facts in Science or Social Studies. Divide the class into two teams.
Decide with the class where the batter will stand, and where the
bases will be. Call team 1 up to the front of the room. The batter
gets a question or math fact to answer. If he gets it right, he
moves to 1st base. If he misses it, that is an out. I usually play
5 outs so we don't have to change teams as often. Students chalk
up their runs on the board as they come in. The other team sits
in their seats and holds up fingers to show the number of outs.
This game was the class favorite, and we always played it at
recess on rainy days.
2. Heads Up/7up with a new twist
Another rainy day favorite is Heads Up, but the kids always peek
to see who tapped them, so I've changed the rules a bit.
Select 7 players to come up front. Call out, "Heads down, all around."
Each child taps someone and then goes back up front. Call out,
"Heads up, 7 up", and the ones who were tapped stand up. Give each
student a math flash card fact or review question to answer. If she
gets it right, the one who tapped her must sit down and the new
player goes up front. If she is wrong, she sits back down and the
one who tapped her gets to stay up front.
3. Tic Tac Toe Bingo
This is a favorite of mine. It works well with any kind of
Math facts or letter or sight word recognition for smaller kids.
For each round, the kids draw a tic tac toe grid on paper. They
write in 9 answers, putting them anywhere they want. That way,
everyone's grid is different. The teacher calls out problems,
words, or letters. The first one to get three in a row, just like
tic tac toe, is the winner. Example: You are studying times tables
of 6. Write the answers to the tables on the board: 6, 12, 18, 24,
30, 36, 42, 48, 54. Students write these numbers on their grids.
Then say the problems or line flash cards without the answers up
on the chalk rail. If you hold up 6x6, they would circle the 36.
Kindergarten kids can write 9 letters, and first graders could
write in 9 sight words. Have the students make a new grid for
each new game. For sight words, I like to give clues instead of saying the word.
Ex. For stop, I might say, "It rhymes with hop and it means to quit. (Hint: Walk around and make sure they have written
in the answers before you begin the game. There's always someone
who tries to cheat.)
4. Around the world
This is another math facts practice game. Start at the front of
the room with the first 2 kids. They stand. Hold up a flash card.
The first one to say the answer gets to move on and challenge the
next student. The one who loses, sits down wherever he is. Only give
them one chance. If one child says the wrong answer, the other one
gets a chance. If they both miss, they both sit, and go on to the
next two kids. The winner is the first one to get back to his seat.
This can take awhile, but the kids love it. (Hint: Just skip anyone
who won't be quiet while waiting, and they will get the hint.)
5. Drop the clothespin/ or eraser basketball Divide into smaller teams for this game, either by rows, reading
groups, etc. Call up one team. Each time a student gets to right
answer (I like to use spelling words), she gets to drop a clothespin
into a jar, or throw an eraser into a wastebasket placed several feet
away. Let one of your students give out the words (Or math facts)
and another keep score, and you can just sit back and settle any
6. Sparkle
This is a spelling practice game. It also forces them to be good
listeners. Again, divide into smaller teams of 6-8. Call up the first
group. Pronounce the word that is to be spelled. The first child
says the first letter. The second child says the second letter.
The third child says the third letter, etc. If they miss, they sit
down on the floor and the game continues. Do NOT repeat the word
and do not repeat the letters that have already been called out.
After the last letter of the word has been given, the next person
must say "Sparkle." The person after the sparkle person has to sit
down. Pronounce the next word.The last person left standing is the winner.
Then go on to the next group.
7. Math Wars This is a great game for reviewing difficult Math calculation and story problems. Call about 5 or 6 students up to the chalkboard. Give a difficult
math problem. Ex. For third graders, I might give: 423-179.
The first one to solve it correctly and sit down on the floor gets a
piece of candy or a sticker. Then she goes to her seat, and you call
up another child to take her place. Continue till everyone has a chance
to come to the board and win. This game also works great for story problems.
As a shorter variation, call up one row at a time. After someone wins, have the
whole row go back to their seats and call up the next row.
8. Math relay
Ahead of time, prepare two large grids on the board, for counting
from 1-100 or 400-500, a multiplication chart, etc. Divide into two groups and line
them up, facing the board. Each child gets to write in 1 number and then
goes to the end of the line. If a child sees a mistake, he may correct it
instead of writing a number. The first team to complete the chart correctly
is the winner. (Hint: I enforce a no talking rule during this game. Anyone who
talks must go to their seat.)
9. Another math relay
This is a variation of the other relay. You can have the kids count
by 2's, 3's, 5's, or 10's beginning with a certain number and working
until they reach a certain number. Write the beginning and ending
numbers on the chalkboard. For example, Count by 2's from 324 to 398.
10. Greater than/ Less than
Students always have trouble with this concept, so I came up with
this idea. I like to play it with a few students at a time, waiting
in line for lunch, the bus, etc. You say, "I am thinking of a number
between 1 and 25." Give each child a guess and after each guess, you
tell them if the answer is higher or lower than their guess. Let them
keep guessing until someone gets it right. Reward them with a piece of
candy. Keep using more difficult numbers as their skill level increases.
Ex. "I'm thinking of a number between 7