Do you need ideas for occupying students during the last ten minutes of a busy day? Perhaps you want to reward kids at the end of a particularly productive day. These ten games are great for end-of-the-day fun. You can link many of them to classroom curricula too.
It's a rainy day, everyone has to stay indoors, and the kids are driving you nuts. Maybe you just want to give a well-deserved break to students who have really been trying hard in class. What do you do? Play a game!
The kids probably like the games you usually play, but a little variety can't hurt. Why not try Password or Sparkle or Pass the Chicken? Simple rules for those games and seven others can be found below.
Anybody older than 20 probably remembers the TV game show Password. The game can be easily adapted for classroom use. Choose two students to be the "contestants." You can always use the "I'm thinking of a number ..." guessing game to determine the contestants. Those two students go to the front of the room and face their classmates. Reveal a secret word -- write it on the chalkboard or a chart or hold up a card -- to everyone but the two contestants. The rest of the students raise their hands to volunteer one-word clues that might help the contestants guess the word. Contestants take turns calling on clue volunteers until one of the contestants correctly guesses the secret password. The contestant who guesses the password remains at the front of the class; the student who gave the final clue replaces the other contestant.
Tip: Choose words appropriate for your students' abilities. Words for which they might know multiple synonyms or meanings are best! You might use a thesaurus to create a list of possible words before playing the game. Write those words in large letters on cards so students can use them as the game is played. Save the cards from year to year.
Sample password: ferocious
Possible clues: fierce, vicious, wild, fiendish, savage, cruel, brutal
More possible passwords: understand, taste, slam, easy, recess, ancient, nasty, laugh, drink, impatient, hot, pound, glimpse, friend, correct, motion, ruin
This game serves as good practice for the week's (or previous weeks') spelling words. Arrange students in a line. The game leader calls out the first word. The first person in line calls out the first letter in that word. The second person calls out the second letter. The third person calls out the third letter and so on. The person who says the last letter in the word must turn to the next person in the sequence and say sparkle. The person who is "sparkled" must return to his or her seat. If a word is misspelled, the person to say the first wrong letter must sit down and the spelling of that word continues. After a student is sparkled, the leader calls out a new word. The game continues until only one student remains standing.
In Silence, silence is the name of the game. Students must arrange themselves in order without uttering a peep! For example, challenge students to silently sequence themselves according to height. The game can be adapted with very little preparation to fit almost any curriculum theme. For example, if the class is studying state capitals, count out enough sticky notes for each student. On each note, write the name of a state capital. Each student wears a "capital" tag on his or her shirt. The students must silently sequence themselves in alphabetical order. You might make the game even more challenging by asking them to line up according to the state for each capital!
Options: Students can create their own tags. They might write their birthdays on tags and arrange themselves in order from January 1 to December 31. They might write their seven-digit phone numbers as a seven-digit number and arrange themselves in numerical sequence.
Other categories: The possibilities are endless, but students might include U.S. presidents (arrange in order of the presidencies), fractions (arrange in order of size), clocks (arrange printed a.m. and p.m. clock faces in order of the time shown), or largest U.S. city populations (arrange tags with the largest cities and their populations from largest to smallest).
PIECING THE PUZZLE
This game requires a little preparation -- but it's worth it! To prepare, laminate five pictures. Calendar pictures are great for this activity! You might laminate pictures relating to a teaching theme and then cut each picture into four to six puzzle pieces. (Note: You want to end up with one puzzle piece for each student in your class, so you might create a variety of four-piece, five-piece, and six-piece puzzles.) Hand a puzzle piece to each student. Let students wander around the classroom to find their "puzzle mates"!
Extra challenge! Laminate pictures from a themed calendar. Imagine students' trying to piece together pictures of the 'N Sync musical group -- or the confusion spotted puzzle pieces from a calendar of Dalmatian pictures might cause.
Tip: This activity might be fun for the first teacher meeting of the year too! Every teacher could contribute a five-piece puzzle to a collection of puzzles that travels the school!
These quick little puzzles can be great fun. When you have five minutes to fill, write a couple of the puzzles on the chalkboard and let students try to figure them out. Each puzzle contains several familiar words. When carefully read and sounded out, the words reveal the name of a well-known person, place, thing, or phrase. As students figure out the hidden names, they write their responses on a sheet of scrap paper. The teacher can wander the room checking their guesses. Have a prize ready for the first person to guess both of the day's puzzles.
Follow-up fun: After completing the puzzles below, students might like the challenge of creating Whozit? Whatzit? puzzles of their own.
Four Corners is popular with teachers and students. Number the corners of the classroom from 1 to 4. Select one student to be "It." That person closes his or her eyes while the rest of the students go to one of the four corners in the classroom. When all students are settled in a corner, It calls out a number. All the kids who chose the corner with that number are out of the game and must sit down. It closes his or her eyes again, calls out a number, and more students sit down. When the game gets down to four people or fewer, each must choose a different corner. If It calls out a corner where nobody is standing, It must choose again. The game continues until only one student is left. That student becomes It.
This game is based on a popular box game. To start the game, the teacher chooses a word for which no student will know the meaning. The teacher writes the word on the chalkboard and writes the definition of the word on a sheet of paper from a small pad. Then the teacher hands a sheet from the same pad to each student. The student must write on that sheet his or her name and a definition of the word. The teacher collects all the definitions. One by one, the teacher reads the definitions. Students consider each definition. Then, as the teacher rereads them, the students vote for the definition that they believe is the real meaning of the word. Students earn a point if they guess the definition correctly; they also earn a point each time another student selects their (fake) definition as the true meaning of the word. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Some Words to Try
You can easily adapt this game to many areas of the curriculum. The teacher writes a category on the chalkboard -- foods, for example. Each student writes the letters A to Z on a sheet of paper. The students have five minutes to create an alphabetical list of as many foods as they can think of. Then the game begins. The first student must tell the name of a food. The second person must give the name of a food that begins with the last letter of the food given by the first person. The third person must name a food that begins with the last letter of the second person's food and so on. One at a time, students are eliminated.
Other possible categories: cities; songs; things in nature (for older students, animal names or plant names); people's first names (for older students, famous people's last names or, more specifically, authors' names).
SEVEN UP, STAND UP
This game is another old favorite! Choose seven students to be It. Those students go to the front of the room. The other students put their heads on their desks so they can't see. The seven Its wander the room. Each taps one of the seated students on the head. As a student is tapped, he or she raises a hand. When all seven Its return to the front of the room, they say in unison, "Seven up, stand up!" Each student who was tapped has an opportunity to guess which student tapped him or her. If a student guesses correctly, he or she replaces the person who did the tapping. The game begins again when all have had a chance to guess.
PASS THE CHICKEN!
In this game, nobody wants to hold the rubber chicken -- the game's only prop! To begin the game, all students sit in a circle. Select one person to be It. That person holds the rubber chicken. The teacher or a "caller" says to the person holding the chicken, "Name five presidents of the United States. Pass the chicken!" As soon as the caller says, "Pass the chicken," the person holding the chicken passes it to the right. Students quickly pass the chicken around the circle. If it returns to the original holder before he or she can name five presidents of the United States, the holder is still It. Otherwise, the person holding the chicken when It finishes listing five presidents is the new It. You should prepare the topic cards for this game in advance. Topics can relate to your curriculum or be general information topics. The student who is It must name five items in the called-out category in order to get rid of the dreaded chicken!
Some Suggested Topics
Article by Gary Hopkins
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