Wouldn’t it be great if teaching could be all fun and games? Well, it literally can be for at least one lesson! Games in the classroom are a great way to test prep, reward students for excellent work, and present content. In fact, most of the options explained in this blog post can be utilized in all three situations.
Even better, their novelty can promote increased motivation and retention. In fact, a little novelty goes a long way! These ideas vary in their prep time and complexity, but novelty can help dictate your lesson plan decisions. Some of the easier to implement games can be used more often but then interspersed with the more complex options to shake things up a bit. So even though every lesson can’t be a game, you can add some extra fun to your day with these ideas.
Digital games are my go-to for classroom implementation for their ease of use and their effectiveness. In fact, some of them are as easy as a single click to create! You just need to know where to look. Here are my go-to digital game websites:
I recently discovered this website, and it was a huge hit with my students. Blooket is a free website that connects directly to Quizlet, so you can find a series of review questions (for just about any content) and within a few minutes, have an entire set of questions for a digital game. What I love about Blooket is that they have eight different games that students can play. Some of the games are designed for individual use, which you can assign as homework or individual classwork. And other games involve logic, luck, and speed, so they can get pretty intense! I love joining in the game too as an added challenge.
Gimkit was created by a high schooler, so it definitely appeals to teenagers! It offers live game and asynchronous options, and they recently added a publishing resource for student writing. The only downside is that they don’t have a free version anymore. The subscription is $59.88 per year for educators.
Socrative is a great tool to use for live feedback during assessments. You can watch as students take the quiz in real time and see how they’re performing. They even have a popular game called Space Race that works as a team-based motivator. The free version is rather robust and can host 50 students in a room at once.
While you probably already know Kahoot, I have to include it in this list because it’s the classic! (I bet you’re humming their catchy tunes in your head right now!) I’ve used Kahoot to introduce content while assessing students’ prior knowledge and to review content before a summative assessment. You can beat its versatility, and it’s free!
Board games can be used in the classroom as they are, or you can use them for inspiration to create your own review games. For example, in my AP Lit class, we love playing Balderdash as a bonus after the AP exam! It challenges their vocabulary and creativity.
On the other hand, I’ve also created my own board games. One of my favorites is literary categories. For this game, I created a big list of school and ELA-related topics on six different cards. We choose a letter and race to come up with a category that relates to the word. This game is great to review literary elements, and students always have fun calling out silly categories.
Here are some ideas that you could adapt to your classroom:
- Host a single-elimination tournament where students face off against each other, like Scrabble or Chess.
- Include a board game into your review game by asking students to pull a Jenga piece, shoot a basket, or Go Fish!
- Play an old-school favorite, like Seven Up or Hot Potato, but incorporate review questions.
- Get artsy by asking students to draw or act out terms or concepts (think charades or Pictionary).
- Turn your classroom into a content-related game show and bring students on set of Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Family Feud!
This next idea comes from a fan-favorite on my IGTV on Instagram. If you’re looking to make an objective formative quiz a little more fun, watch the video for my card quiz tutorial.
With the chance that they might not have to take the quiz, it definitely makes the quiz a little more fun, and it can also add an extra layer of “exam security” for you. Feel free to direct message me on Instagram if you have any questions about how a Card Quiz works.
Last but certainly not least is my favorite type of classroom game: an escape room! An escape room, also called a breakout room, is a scenario-based learning activity that engages students in a series of puzzle and logic tasks. The objective is to complete the tasks before time runs out.
Escape rooms are awesome in the classroom because they require critical thinking skills and teamwork and they are highly engaging.Though they are time intensive to create and set up, I am always rewarded by happy, engaged students! If you’re interested in creating your own escape rooms, check out this blog post for a guide to creating educational escape rooms for high school students.
If you’d like to reap all of the benefits of an educational escape room, but save yourself a lot of time, check out my fully made escape rooms for ELA. I even include a one-click digital option for my most popular, highly-rated escape rooms: Literary Analysis Escape Room, Poetry Escape Room, and Edgar Allan Poe Escape Room.
Further Reading and Resources
Download Free My Escape Room Toolkit: