Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Work Sheets to Games

In after-school, we are always looking for ways to make learning more fun and engaging for youth. We look for the latest games and innovations to bring to the program with the hope each will “catch fire” with the students. We are committed to programs that are both relevant and rigorous, and encourage the development of relationships through team work and team play.

One of the easier ways to do this is by translating “work sheets” into games. It is really much easier that you would think. First of all, homework assignments often provide you with exactly what students are working on. In math you will know what vocabulary is being worked on and what skills are being taught when you look at the homework being assigned. The same is true for science, history/social studies, and of course, language arts. Make a copy of the work sheet or ask for a copy of the text book so you can access the abundant resource of practice problems that are available to you.

You also need an understanding of some basic “game” types.

Path Games, like Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and race track game boards are examples of path games. Path games begin at one spot and players travel along a path to the ending spot by rolling dice, spinning a spinner, answering a question, or some other way that can be replicated by multiple players. Along the path the player will encounter obstacles that are placed in the way to impede progress along the path.

Board Games, like Monopoly and Sorry, have a fixed board that you travel around multiple times, seeking victory. The board itself is “like a player” because certain spaces on the board support or detract from the players victory. Movement around a board game is also made by rolling dice, drawing cards that define a specific action, or following the guidance on the board itself (Go to jail, Go directly to jail; or slide on the triangle to the end of run if the run is the same color as your token).

Memory Games, such as Concentration, Go Fish and other games, in which the player is rewarded if he/she remembers where particular things are located, or which player has which cards that you may need.

Group Challenge Games, such as Jeopardy, Are You As Smart as a Fifth Grader, and Family Feud, have categories of questions that are asked and individuals and/or teams of contestants work together to ensure that a correct answer is given.

In all cases, you will need both the problems and the “answer key” so you can be sure that correct answers given will result in victory. Both work sheets and text books tend to have answer keys that are easily accessible. When creating the game you will need to make the “Jeopardy” decision—do you provide the answers and have them identify the question, or do you provide the problem and have them come up with the answer. Either way the result is the same—young people practicing needed skills in engaging ways.

As a country we say that our children are our most important assets. Make that a reality by supporting the development of the adults who work with youth on a day-to-day basis. Check us out at www.consultfourkids.com

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