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Do you live in fear that your principal will walk into your class while everyone is playing games or working on puzzles? I used to worry about that too, but I don’t anymore! Here’s why…
With so much pressure placed on teachers and students with regard to standards, learning goals, and standardized testing, we often lose sight of the fact that a lot of valuable learning can take place through the simple act of playing games.
Here are seven reasons why you can feel good about playing games in your classroom:
Yes, the “engagement” that we’re taught that we must have in all of our lessons! In my experience, teaching with games and puzzles has never failed to engage all of my students. I often use these puzzle games as a way to immerse my students in a new concept (and it’s a fabulous way to reinforce the “old” concepts as well!) You can get a free addition puzzle game when you sign up here.
2. Learning Styles
Some teachers firmly believe in planning lessons to appeal to various learning styles while others don’t have the time or interest. However, it’s undeniable that learning games have the ability to appeal to and work well with many varieties of learning styles.
3. Building Bridges
Hands-on learning games and puzzles can demonstrate to kids that there are ways to positively interact with their peers in a way that they might not otherwise engage in. (i.e. the classmate who’s not so good at baseball might be able to teach them a thing or two about fractions and vice-versa!)
4. Sequencing & Multi-Step Directions
Nearly every game involves having to learn its rules and procedures. By having kids learn procedures, steps, sequences and rules, we are activating a part of their brain that isn’t always tapped into during the school day. We shouldn’t forget the value of having kids learn the cognitive skills that playing games provide.
Learning and remembering the rules of any game forces kids to memorize facts and concepts in a fun way. While they’re learning the rules, they’re also learning the concepts set forth within the game or puzzle. This is a win-win for any classroom activity!
Another positive aspect of playing games is when students are able to learn that actions have consequences, even in a game setting. Unwise choices, even those made in a game setting, provide a safe (and less painful) way to learn about negative consequences. Certain actions within a game lead to certain events and this is a valuable learning tool for kids. Often, they will improve rapidly at a learning game, or any game for that matter, by feeling the effects of the negative consequences that occur within a game. They develop the ability to adjust, adapt, and move on to become more skilled (or wiser!) the next time they play.
The rewards of playing learning games are many, but likely the top reward for students is that it builds their confidence. They learn a new concept while learning how to get along with others, and as a result, they feel better about themselves by doing both of those. For a teacher, perhaps the number one reward that comes from having students playing a learning game or puzzle, is that students achieve mastery of a new skill or concept—and that the mastery came in relatively easy way for both teacher and student!
And…if you’re still worried about your principal walking in while your students are playing games, just show them this list!
Remember, these Magic Square Puzzles are great for centers, review, early and fast finishers, enrichment, GATE (gifted and talented education), and critical thinking skills. Students with special needs also do well with these once they understand the concept. Any student that needs a lesson in perseverance will benefit from Magic Square Puzzles. With this fun game format your students will stay engaged while practicing necessary skills! You can see them all here or grab a free download to test them out by clicking here.