Student Placing sticky note on board during playing a game of Connect Four

Battleship, Connect Four, Uno, Matching Games. I can expect that many of us grew up playing these games and many other “old fashion” games. I myself have spent countless hours around the table playing Uno with a deck that was probably twice my age with my grandma and my cousins. Did you know that playing board or card games can be used for more than just having fun? Scholastic, Inc. recently posted an article about the positive benefits of playing board games as a child. Everyday concepts like taking turns and accepting loss are important skills for kids to be exposed to. The same article also contained the following quote:

“Strategy games are useful in helping the frontal lobes of the brain develop,” 

- Beatrice Tauber Prior, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist.

The fifth-grade teachers have been working together to take the games that are tied to so many good memories and bringing them into the classroom. Students have gotten to learn how to play battleship while practicing place value. Individual math practice can become dull very quickly. We have found that when students are able to work as a team to complete a connect four challenge on the Promethean board, they were more engaged and were able to produce a high quantity of quality work. This process allows the students to show the teacher their current level of mastery of the content as well as build a team mentality. Math lends itself to being used in a game-like setting. By working in a group to complete problems there is both a level of accountability and a level of support for struggling students. In our classrooms, we have used generic game boards with different sets of cards that correlate to the needs of the standards currently being addressed. 

Math is not the only subject that can be applied to a traditional game set-up. The fifth-grade students have also had numerous opportunities to play an Uno like game that uses different Language Arts skills. Cards are color-coded and look similar to those who have played the game before. However, instead of having numbers, the cards may contain different types of figurative language. In order to play, a student must first realize the category that has been played and examine the card in his or her hand to find one that matches. Once again, by including the color-coded feature, this structure has built-in support for students that are not as confident or still mastering the skill.

As the break approaches and the weather keeps many of us inside, I challenge you to play a board or card game with your student or family members. Happy Holidays and have fun!

To read the article mentioned above you may click here.