Sometimes we think of play as something that children do outside the classroom. But did you know that play can be used as a form of learning for children? Games are interactive, so they make learning fun for children of all ages. In this article, we will cover a multi-sensory approach to learning that uses games to help children learn more effectively. Whether you are a parent, teacher or tutor, you will find value in reading more about incorporating games and play into learning.
These are some of the skills children can learn through play and games:
🤝 Social skills
Through playing games with others, children learn how to navigate mistakes and what to do when things become challenging. By interacting with others, they will have opportunities to share, work as a team and communicate effectively. An important part of learning through games is following instructions. Children will learn patience, to take turns, to respect other players and develop resilience because when competing with peers, they can’t always win.
🔍 Problem-solving skills
Instead of calling for help when they encounter a problem, games teach children crucial problem-solving skills. Children will learn to independently or collaboratively think about issues and how to resolve them. They will learn planning, recognising patterns and thinking flexibly, as well as experimenting through trial and error and working out new strategies.
📚 Academic skills
There are lots of games which can help children to enhance their skills in reading, writing and mathematics. There are lots of games which can facilitate skills development in reading, writing and numeracy. There are games that can support language acquisition, making learning a new language more enjoyable and attainable.
There are many applications for games in the classroom. Games can be played in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class split into two bigger teams. Depending on the situation, you could introduce physical games, such as card games, board games or dice games. There are also a lot of online apps that can be used for mathematics, spelling or science.
While games can be selected purely for enjoyment purposes, you can also choose games based on the learning objective. Create a meaningful learning experience for children by selecting games that can teach children to acquire or improve in specific areas such as spelling, reading or critical thinking.
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If you are looking for word games you can play in the classroom or while you’re on the go, choose from the list below. These games don’t require anything other than your brain!
🗣️ The Rhyme Game
This game will encourage creative thinking as children search for words that rhyme!
The rules can be flexible. Players can shout out their rhyming words at random, or they can compete in teams. Alternatively, you can add a timer to the game and see which child or team can come up with the most rhyming words in a set amount of time, for example three minutes.
🗣️ I’m Going on a Picnic
Here’s a familiar game with simple rules that are easy to follow. As a group, move through the letters of the alphabet to add a new word, one player at a time.
Depending on the age of the children, you could enforce rules for children who forget the words. Anything from a giggle to the player being eliminated until one player is left standing.
🗣️ How Many Words?
Begin by selecting a topic and try to come up with as many words about the topic as you can! For example, the topic might be “Things you’ll see at the beach”. As individuals or in groups, see how many items you can list in a category or theme.
The maths games listed below can be used to improve numerical comprehension, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and critical thinking.
🧮 Snakes and Ladders
To play this popular board game, you will need two or more players who will take turns rolling the dice. The number you roll will indicate how many spaces you can move their token along the board. If a player lands on a ladder, they can move their token higher up, and if they land on a snake, they must move further down. This is a visual game, which adds to the fun! Children will learn to count, and be patient as well as learn how to navigate winning and losing.
Baking is more than just a game, because you’ll end up with something delicious to enjoy at the end! Throughout the process, children can learn about ratios, measurements and time-keeping. They will also be given a recipe, which will help them to practice following instructions. We recommend adult supervision for this one, as there is usually an oven involved!
This classic board 2 - 8 player game involves buying properties and keeping track of rent. Children will learn basic finance skills, for example counting, while playing with others. If somebody would like extra maths practice, they can choose to be the banker in the game, taking charge of the pot of money.
Related: How To Make Maths Fun For Primary School Kids
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