Everyone knows that toddlers and preschoolers learn through play. It’s how they learn about the world around them. Through play they can learn physical skills, vocabulary, social interactions and literacy and numeracy skills.
But what about when you are teaching older children and teenagers? Is there any real benefit to play then?
Absolutely. And here’s why you should try and incorporate games into your classroom.
Games are fun. There’s no getting away from that. They are more fun than worksheets. While there is a place for worksheets (shameless plug, we make worksheets as well), games can break up the class.
Students who are engaged in a card game are motivated to win, so they will participate in the game.
For example, in my Algebra Rummy card game, students are solving equations to form runs and straights to lose their cards. The first player to lose their cards wins. In an average game, a student will solve between 20 and 40 equations, and will happily do so with the motivation of winning.
2) Social Interaction
Games are a great way to foster relationships in your classroom. Some students get competitive, other help each other out. Both interactions when playing games are healthy. And students learn how to take turns, how to win, and more importantly how to lose.
3) Assists with memory
We've already said how games are a great way to have fun. There has been plenty of research to show that kids who are having fun are more likely to retain what they are learning. This is because they are engaged in the game. They are invested in winning, and therefore are more likely to actively take part in, and remember the mathematical concepts you are trying to teach.
4) Learning strategy and problem solving
Games teach more than just the mathematical concepts you are trying to convey. Yes, algebra rummy teaches algebra. Fraction Snap gets students used to converting fractions, decimals and percentages. And Factor Wars gets students used to factors of numbers. But the other skills students learn through games, that of problem solving, strategy, reading other players, that is something unique that only games can offer.
5) Kids love them
I started playing games to try and capture the interest of my hard to reach students. To my joy, not only did they join in, but I noticed that my shy students were talking more, my students with inbuilt leadership qualities had a chance to shine, students who understood the mathematical concepts better engaged with those struggling, to try and help them win the game. My classroom became alive as the usually apathetic 14 year olds scribbled their algebra equations desperately, hoping that the turned over card was the blue 4 they needed to win the game. They begged to play again, and with each new topic they asked if I could make up another game for them to play.
As you can see, games are not just for little kids. Given the opportunity to play algebra rummy or to work through algebra equations in a text book, students would choose the card game every time, and by the nature of the game (and without realising it) they often solved more equations than they ever would have if just solving from a text book.
Games are also a great way to get to know your students. I am a private tutor now, and games are a great starter activity. I use them to calm down the over excited, engage the shy, and as a reward for good behaviour from the more troublesome students. Each new topic gives me an opportunity to create a new card game.
If there are any topics you wanted a game for that we haven't done, (bingo, dominoes, card games etc) feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and make a suggestion.
Check out our games store to see what we already have.