I have finally sat down and completed my SmartBoard game with addition and subtraction problems. I've had one created for kindergarten with a few facts, but I wanted to make one that is specific to addition and another specific to subtraction. Pages getting more difficult as the class progresses through the game.
My class has loved playing these SmartBoard games. I have students throw a Koosh Ball at the SmartBoard and the circle disappears and exposes the problem underneath. What I have found through playing this is that you have to find a Koosh Ball that has some weight to it. The very light ones will not trigger the circle to disappear. What is a Koosh Ball? Well it looks like this:
I also use an elongated squishy ball, that has a ball inside of it, this gives it enough weight to trigger the circle to disappear. Mine is similar to these:
While I see my students enjoy these games, I've wondered, are they really learning from them? So I've done some research, this quote, "There is also evidence that games allow students to focus well enough to learn better." Lepper and Cordova, 1992 struck me. The way I play the game is, half of the class is a team and the other half the opposing team, my rule is only the person who's turn it is may speak. As it is only one child's turn, you'd think kindergarten and first grade students would become antsy, but they don't they are intently waiting for the problem or word to appear and they are waiting to see if the child gets the answer correctly. This quote supports that, they have more focus during our game then compared to sitting down completing a worksheet. The above quote was from the article, Why Use Games to Teach? The article continues by talking about how kids today are immersed in technology, we need to be supporting this. And playing educational games in technology help do this.
Those of us that teach the very young, see everyday how they learn through play. They use their imagination and they problem solve. It feels like as a kindergarten teacher, we give our students less and less time for that imaginary play, but it is such an important part of learning. This article talks about a longitudinal study on play, How Do Young Children Learn Through Play?
Upon further research, I may want to call my game an activity. This article defines games Learning Mathematics Through Games. We as teachers often times feel like we have to justify why we are using a game to teach. When an administrator walks in, I know I fear it looks like we are "playing", but I have to come to realize that playing is a huge part of learning.
These games/activities I've created are based on recall, recall is the lowest domain on Blooms Taxonomy, but if students can not quickly recall they will have difficulty moving up Blooms Taxonomy as tasks get harder. Recall helps build working memory. As I researched I found many recall games/activities. This is a list of pretty good resources, http://www.memory-improvement-tips.com/free-memory-games.html.
I have always played games as a class or have a game in a center. I think if you purposefully choose a game that fits what you are teaching or what students are learning about, it is a great way to make learning fun and purposeful. It helps that subject come alive for students. If a teacher is just throwing a bunch of games out there that do not tie to anything that is being taught, kids are still learning from playing, but they are not making connections. We need to help students make connections, build a love for learning, and make learning fun!