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Quick Games to Play in the Classroom

If kids associate school with negative feelings like boredom and stress, they likely won’t enjoy their classes or be inspired to learn. That’s why fun projects and creative activities that get students moving and using their imaginations are vital for both academic and social-emotional development. Fun activities and games are especially important for children that are still in the early grades that might find it difficult to focus or that are not used to the school environment.

Suppose a teacher is able to make the classroom a truly engaging and vibrant place where kids not only learn but also play and socialize with each other. In that case, those students will likely associate school with positive feelings, which can help them create stable and healthy learning habits long-term.

Classroom games for students don’t have to be completely devoid of any learning aspects. Many games for students have multiple purposes and can be adjusted to fit a specific curriculum as well as the needs of the children. Games can help teachers create better lessons while enabling them to form a relationship with their class. 

Depending on the teacher’s preferences, creative activities for students might involve technical equipment, physical exercise, or some sort of an art-based medium. Along with that, there are many games that can be played online in case you need a workaround for pandemic-related restrictions.

This article will give you some ideas of quick games to play in the classroom with your students and will speak briefly on the benefits of implementing creative games and activities. Let’s get started!

5 Minute Classroom Games

If you’re a teacher, you likely know the struggle of finishing your lesson early and having to keep your students engaged for the last five to ten minutes of class. These few minutes before the end of class can be filled with 5 minute games! Of course, these games can be played at any time that you want to hold your class’s attention or give them a short break from an extra difficult lesson.

5 minute classroom games should be short, easy, and not too serious. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

• Twenty questions
Students get to guess whether a place, person, or thing has been written on a card. It’s a good idea to give the class a clue, especially if they’re in the lower grades.
• Hangman
Playing a game of hangman on the whiteboard is fun and gives you an excellent opportunity to review the lesson you’ve been teaching. Simply pick a word connected with the lesson and set up the game on the board. Let the class take turns in choosing letters.
• Brain Quest
This downloadable application is full of educational questions for both younger and middle-aged children. The questions are displayed in a fun way that keeps kids engaged while they participate.
• Mysteries and riddles
Let your students step into the shoes of Sherlock Holmes and try to solve a mystery. You can find quick 30-second riddles and mystery questions online and encourage the class to come up with the right answer as a group.

These are just five suggestions for short games that you can play when you have a spare 5 minutes between topics or after your lesson. Any game that gets students working together and brings some excitement to the room will be effective.

Fun Indoor Classroom Games

People spend most of their time inside during school hours. There’s no good way to work around it—unfortunately outdoor classrooms aren’t very practical! The good news is that there’s a lot of fun to be had indoors as well. Having some game ideas in your back pocket is especially important for teachers with younger classes (such as kindergarten through middle school), as kids in this age range can get quite antsy when indoors for so long.

That being said, take a look at the following ideas for indoor games for kindergarten-aged children as well as fun indoor classroom games for middle school-aged kids: 

Helpful when working with younger children, this site offers a terrific way for them to get their energy out. It offers a ton of free games, interactive videos, and other guided indoor classroom activities.

Four Corners
This classic remains a favorite in classrooms, as it’s incredibly simple and gets kids moving. Basically, all students have to do is choose a corner of the room to stand in and hope that their corner’s number isn’t called.

This game can be used for classes of all ages. Have your students write a word or a phrase (usually a noun or a verb) on a piece of paper and put them all into a bowl. Then divide them into teams and let each team take turns acting out the prompt they drew. You can also incorporate topics from your lessons into a charades game.

Art Class
Letting your students paint or draw is a great way to keep their minds active. Turn it into a game for any age by making it a guessing game like Pictionary in which students have to guess what someone is drawing.

Freeze Dance
Another classic that allows younger kids to get some energy out. Just put on some music and let them dance or move around, and when the music stops, they have to freeze.

Funny Classroom Games

Bringing some humor into the mix with some funny classroom games can lighten the mood and put your students in good spirits. Here are five fun classroom activities that might get a laugh out of your students:

This is a game where students are restricted to using certain words during reading comprehension. The teacher gives each student a list of the banned words and a reading material that contains them. The task is for the student to read the text and bleep over each banned word. 

Blind Artist
Students have to be put in pairs for this game. Next, they have to stand with their backs together. One student will have a paper and a pen, while the other will try to describe a picture to draw without actually saying what it is. The goal is for the drawing to match the description. 

Crazy Train
Best suited for young children. Split your students into groups of 10 to 12 and make them form a train. Next, direct them forward, backward, and left and right around the classroom or hallways. You can even add in silly commands like jumping in place or going in circles.

Sentence Race
This is a game suitable for older kids who have more vocabulary. The teacher has to provide a box full of papers containing vocabulary words. Students will be divided into teams, and each member can pick a paper from the box. The team tries to form a sentence with their words and the team with the highest amount of meaningful sentences wins. This can also help students improve their grammar and writing skills.

Chain Spelling
This game challenges students to connect unrelated words just by looking at their spelling. The teacher should write one word on the board, then a student has to take the last several letters and form a new word. This continues until someone is unable to form a word or misspells it. 

A lot of these games require close proximity, which can be difficult in the current state of the world. Not to worry—there are just as many funny classroom games online, as well as games that get students’ brains working. Check out the ideas below.

Online Classroom Games

No matter whether you’re looking for online ideas during a time of remote learning or you just want to add some tech into your daily activities, online classroom games are the way to go. Take a look at some entertaining online activities as well as some games for online teaching: 

Digital Scavenger Hunt
There are several ways to pull off a digital scavenger hunt. You can compile a list of activities that students have to complete within a certain amount of time, challenge them to find certain items in their homes and set them up in view of the camera when joining a Zoom or Google Classroom call, or play a search engine game where the first person to find a specific piece of information wins.

Virtual Trivia
Trivia-like games have been popular for quite a while now. As a teacher, you can use trivia games to quiz your students in a more fun and interactive way. It’s also great to start class competitions on trivia apps and add an incentive so that the student with the most points at the end of term gets an award. 

Geography Puzzles
Make this commonly disliked subject exciting by challenging your students to fill out a world map as accurately as possible. There are a lot of classroom games online for geography on sites like Sporcle or Seterra that allow your students to learn while having fun.

Games for Elementary Students

Classroom games for kids are a great way to make school more enjoyable for younger children. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know how to tie in elements of learning and fun at the same time. Six In Schools is a great tool for this. 

Many teachers use the Six In Schools format for all sorts of purposes in their classrooms—from a fun, quick activity during the extra time at the beginning or end of class to a fully developed tool to support social-emotional learning in the classroom.

That being said, if you’re out of ideas for games that can be played in class, here are some other suitable activities and games for elementary students: 

   • Jumping the line
   • Telephone
   • Heads up 7 up
   • In-person scavenger hunt
   • Hide-and-seek inside or outside
   • Musical chairs
   • Guess-a-classmate

A quick Google search will go more in-depth regarding these games and, of course, there are hundreds more games that simply couldn’t fit in this article. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own ideas for games too. You know your students and your curriculum better than anyone, so bring out your creativity and have fun engaging your students!

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