Classroom Games for the Substitute Teacher
Is it Appropriate to Play Games?
Classroom teachers don’t want subs to spend the day solving puzzles, handing out word finds, and playing games. After all, serious educational work needs to be accomplished. In the modern school environment with the emphasis on testing and accountability, there is enormous pressure to cover the curriculum, often to the exclusion of extracurricular activities.
However, there will be days when you are given no plans, or other days when you complete the plans with time to spare. It is at these times that games can serve as both a filler and as an incentive for the students to complete their work in a timely and cooperative manner. When you play a game, you are in control, and if you choose the right games, learning will occur. So, it is appropriate to play games, but be sure you choose your games wisely.
How Can Games be Educational?
Any game that is played in the classroom should have three attributes:
- It must be fun.
- It must be age appropriate.
- It must have some educational merit.
The games that I recommend in this chapter have all three attributes. They are fun; if chosen properly, they can be targeted to a specific age group; and they all require solid thinking skills.
It’s important to note that games can also be used to complement the curriculum. Games can be used to review spelling words and vocabulary. They can be used to review concepts that prepare students for tests. Math games can be used to review facts and hone skills.
Whenever possible, try to adapt classic classroom games to fit into your curriculum. Later in the chapter, I’ll suggest some things that will help you accomplish this.
When Should I Play Games?
Games can become an important element of your classroom management approach. Therefore, use them to your advantage. It’s best to introduce a game early in the day, during a quiet time when you know it will be well received. Play it once or twice and then stop. Promise the students that you’ll repeat the game later in the day, but only if they exhibit good work habits and behavior.
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