A surprise snow day has me at home so I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce my classroom game basket idea. This basket is simply a way to store all the generic pieces that are used in so many instructional games – dice, tokens, chips, decks of playing cards, spinners, etc. There’s really no limit to what can or should go in a game basket, of course. Throw in whatever you use on a regular basis and you’re good to go!
Classroom Game Basket Organizational Rules
This one is easy – the rules are…there are no rules! Toss in those items your students need and use on any classroom game or activity. Here are a few of my items and how they are used:
- Decks of Playing Cards – just regular playing cards I bought at Walmart. These would be great to ask for donations at the beginning of the year or during the holidays, too. My students use them to play Multiplication Facts War. I keep several in my basket for when students are finished with their math assignments so I want lots of kids to be able to play.
- Game Tokens – simple plastic tokens in a variety of colors for use with activities using a game board. I have been known to use cap erasers for tokens, too. These come in handy when my students are playing our Westward Expansion or Civil War games that I created as part of my units of study for those topics.
- Dice – how could any classroom game basket be complete without a set of dice? Please, please, please make sure you get the foam version! Otherwise be prepared to invest in a set of earplugs when a dozen or so dice go rolling along the desks at the same time. I never would have thought they would make so much noise, but…they do. We use dice with my weekly Sentences Roll-and-Write assignment, but dice are an almost essential piece to any game.
- Spinners – for when you need numbers that go beyond the standard 6 on a die. Fortunately, spinners come in a variety of numbers. I found mine for free online, printed them in color, and laminated them. Students use a pencil and a jumbo paperclip for the spinner piece.
- Chips – sometimes games such as Bingo (or some variation) require students to cover up sections on a game board. A bag or two of plastic chips gets the job done. A few months back my students played a game to practice learning idioms and these chips came in handy!
Games Get ‘Em Going!
Games are a motivating, fun way to get kids engaged in their learning. As time goes by, it’s easy to gradually acquire an extensive collection of games and other learning activities that address many topics/skills in your curriculum. The Internet, of course, has literally tons of free games that simply require some basic supplies (paper, ink, lamination) and your time to create. Perhaps a trusty parent volunteer could help put together a few games, too. I think I will create some simple labels and attach them to the plastic bags I use to store my pieces in the basket. As my game basket grows in size, I think this will help students (and me!) stay organized and find what we need quickly.