Making the Most of Learning Games- Learning Resources®
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Making The Most Of Learning Games

Picture the students in your classroom.  Every day, you deliver lessons tailored to meet a wide range of their needs across ability levels, learning styles, social dynamics and special needs.  Using a toolbox of activities and approaches, you differentiate instruction to reach and teach all your students. Games can be a key tool to incorporate many types of students, from the incredibly shy to the unrestrained social butterfly.

You may have more than one especially active student, like Eduardo, in your class.  Eduardo is a boy who just can't sit still.  He doesn't always remember to raise his hand, but he loves to participate in hands-on activities.  A game like Alphabet Bingo is a great way to meet the needs of active students like Eduardo.  It's a quick game, start to finish, and children are actively participating throughout.  It is quite natural to help each other during the game, which keeps kids like Eduardo connected and focused.  Games not only engage the attention of energetic learners, but by keeping these students engrossed it cuts down on distractions for other students in the room.

For some students, it may not be the attention level, but the learning style you'd like to address.  The demand to meet a wide range of learning styles in a single lesson is great, and games can help you do just that.  Jack, Isabel and Keisha each have their own individual strengths.  Jack doesn't always listen or process directions that a teacher says but responds well to diagrams and pictures that accompany a task.  Isabel, on the other hand, loves to listen to books on tape.  She may put her head down during verbal instruction but can remember and repeat what was spoken.  Keisha constantly fiddles with something in her hand and learns best when she can physically manipulate objects.  Games are a great way to bring students with different learning styles together and address their varying needs in one activity. 

Spill Your Guts Human Body Game is a human anatomy game that caters to all three learning styles.  It's a visual game when players process images of the patient and different organs. It's an auditory game when Q and A cards are verbally spoken and it's kinesthetic when students use their hands and arms to pick up, explore and move pieces into place.  Jack, Isabel and Keisha can each play using their prominent learning style while strengthening lesser-developed learning techniques.  Other games like Food Group Bingo address the strengths of your auditory learners.  Check out the games category to help you determine exactly which of the learning styles are addressed with any game.

Board games bring the shy student like Ana into close proximity with others and facilitate the students' interactions in a more intimate and less overwhelming setting than a large classroom.  Ana is a quiet girl who hovers on the edge of a group of classmates, hesitant about how to join in.  Because of her quiet disposition, she chooses books over more active play and has become quite an avid reader.  Board games bring the shy student like Ana into close proximity with others and can create a more intimate and less overwhelming setting within a large classroom to facilitate interaction.  A game such as ¡Oraciones Divertidas! (Silly Sentences) Game or Go to Press! A Grammar Game can provide the roadmap to interaction for shy students.  These games teach sentence building and proper grammar and allow kids like Ana to use their intellectual strength as the foundation to gain confidence in game play and conversation with other children.  They present the structure that guides students in learning how to develop a method of communicating with classmates.

All students can learn more about how to interact with children who have special needs through game play.  Inclusion has brought students with special needs into the general population.  Brian is a student who has Down syndrome and is fully included in a regular classroom.  He is able to understand and learn but often needs to repeat a task over and over to master it.  He responds well to visual cues; however, has trouble understanding abstract concepts.  A fun game format like Race Around the Clock Elapsed Time Game helps students with special needs learn the abstract concept of time through tangible means.  This newly-learned concept can be reinforced by playing the game repeatedly over time.  The added benefit for everyone is the chance to interact with classmates who have different needs and skills.  With a variety of games incorporated into the curriculum, your students can come together on the playing field.

For more information on the games in this article, and many more that support curriculum goals, visit our Teacher section.

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