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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Are your students bored? Then let them make a board. A game board that is.

As a teacher of gifted students, I am always amazed at how my classes have loved creating game boards as assignments. They become immersed in creating a theme, crafting game pieces, coming up with clever questionsthen the fun part, they get to play each others games.

Personally, I love using the game board lesson because it can be applied to almost any subject. If students are studying natural disasters, for instance, they can create a game board that involves learning about volcanoes and earthquakes. If they are studying World War II, they can design a board that outlines the struggles between the Allies and the Axis powers.

The lesson requires teamwork, creativity and attention to detailall valuable skills.

So without further ado, and with much respect to Monopoly, Candyland and Chutes And Ladders, let me outline the major keys to creating a successful game board lesson.

Know Your Purpose

Be clear why you are having your students create a game board. Is it to review material? Is it for an enrichment project? Also, decide what subjects you want to involve in the project. One year, I had my students use flashcards from reading, math and science to create a multi-disciplined game board, but normally, the board centers around a single subject.

Also, using a rubric or scoring guide from a website like rubistar.4teachers.orgwill help both you and your students understand how the final product should look. I use a simple scoring guide that allows me to check key areas such as neatness and organization, content, and knowledge gained.

Choose a Theme

Have students brainstorm possible themes for the board before going out and getting supplies. In the past, I have had students use themes that included oceans, dinosaurs and animals, volcanoes, outer space, and sports. Once they choose a theme, they can bring in materials, such as game pieces, that match their theme. The theme sets the stage for the entire game board, including the boards coloring and design, the game pieces and the object of the game.

Make it Educational

You want the board to become a learning tool. To accomplish this, you have to help your students develop questions that are challenging and based on the curriculum. I require students to use cards in their game, which players must pick up and answer the question on the back correctly before moving to the next space. This format provides my students a way to make the game academic in nature. We discuss the kind of questions that should be asked of classmates, depending on the subject. I also require students to answer their own question cards to ensure they know the material.

Play Time!

After grading the projects, I schedule an afternoon where students rotate around the classroom and play each others games. The class has a ball and practices answering questions based on the curriculum, which makes for a great review. Also, students learn whether their instructions are clear enough to allow outsiders to walk up and begin playing their game.

Game boards are a fantastic way to review material and tap into the creativity of your kids. Just remember to know why youre conducting the lesson and make sure to keep it educational as well as fun. To share your thoughts on the topic, please visit the Innovative Teaching grouphttp://community.educationworld.comcontent/game-boards-0?gid=NTEyMQ==

Thank you,