Today, we played games at the end of each of my classes. Games that had nothing to do with what we were studying. Games that didn’t challenge my students at all. Games that were in Spanish, but games that didn’t help them learn anything new.

And you know what? It was fun.

Right now, I’m asking myself why I don’t do this more often? I used to have a PAT system in place, but I found that it didn’t affect participation or behavior, so I did away with it, thinking that I would give free time to deserving classes from time to time.

Today, I realized that there were two problems with my plan (made two years ago, mind you):

(1) I forget about my plan! There is so much to learn, and time is so precious. I pack each period full of activities, and there is always more to be done at the end of the day. We don’t have TIME for games, because we are too busy reading, writing, speaking, and listening!

(2) Bad classes need games too. I realized this today as my Plan B class stood in a circle and played “Ten“. My problem classes are not any more fun for the students in them than they are for me! We don’t do ‘fun’ activities, because they are seemingly impossible for me to manage!

I want my students to WANT to come to my class. I want them to feel a sigh of relief as they walk through the door, knowing that they are in a room in which they are free and safe to be themselves and learn the content without feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I am more successful in this endeavor with some classes–and with some students–than with others.

Today, as I looked around the room in each of my classes, I saw kids that were at ease, smiling, and just having fun–kids that haven’t looked that way in awhile. And it felt good.

Here are the games that I play in my classes: what are some low-stress games that you use in yours?

4 replies on “Gotta Play Games

  1. I tried the link “games that I play in my classes” but it just brought me back to this page. Is that what you meant to do? Nancy

    1. It should have brought you to my “Games” tag archives, and this post would have been at the top of the page. If you scroll down, however, it should be only games posts.

  2. I also pack my class periods full of “important” things–storytelling, reading, songs, quizzes, etc., and the weekly game I scheduled always loses out, when we don’t get through everything I had planned. I’ve had the same conviction about the importance of play that you mention, but I can’t seem to make it happen. Recently I created a class job of Game Chief, whose job it is to make sure the last 15 minutes of class the last day each week (block period) is spent playing a game.

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