As teachers begin a new year of school, there are probably a hundred different things vying for their attention. Lesson plans, seating arrangements, new policies which need to be implemented, the list is endless. Play probably doesn’t seem like something that deserves to be at the top of the list but it really should be. Play helps students engage with the task in front of them. It encourages them to find creative solutions to complex problems, and it fosters healthy communication and teamwork amongst peers. At its best, play is valuable training for life as an adult.

While free play certainly has its place in the world of education, most educators are looking to implement something with more structure in their classroom – that’s where games come in. Games are a great tool for channeling the power of play and pointing it toward a learning target. Still, these games need to serve an educational purpose. Some games may be fun, but they’re probably not the best tool to help your students think critically. Instead, try implementing one of these games in your classroom and see if they spark students’ curiosity and growth:

  • Fact or Funny: Fact or Funny teaches students with a fun little twist resembling a classic party games! Join Marcia the Marshmallow as she sparks student curiosity, gets them laughing, and leads them to investigate the world’s wonders…from bear pilots to levitating slinkies to Pepsi’s incredible navy. Curious? Your students will be, too! Follow the link and get started with the topic of your choice.
  • Up-Cycled Suspension Bridge: Using everyday products around your classroom, in your recycling bin, and in your trash, have students build the suspension bridge of their dreams! Once finished, have them test out how much weight the bridge can hold. Encourage them to keep building and testing until they create a bridge that’s solid as a rock. For added fun, you can time them to see how they perform under pressure.
  • Tandem Stories: Tandem stories are the perfect way to exercise student collaboration and creativity while also strengthening writing and language. First, break students into pairs. Next, give them a character and a setting. Finally, have them take turns writing a short story and watch the craziness unfold!
  • Cork Boats: Present students with an engineering design challenge: make a boat that can float on water out of corks and other household materials! Students love experimenting to see what sinks and what floats. And aside from being fun, this kind of hands-on exploration is great practice in the scientific inquiry, not to mention a cool introduction to physics.

Gaming is a fun and effective way to build up student curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. It can also serve our purpose by giving students the space to breathe and process their emotions while still fostering a growth mindset. Why not give your students (and yourself) a jumpstart for the new school year and try out one of these educational activities? If you enjoyed these activities, be sure to check out the Blue Apple Timely Topic: Games, Games, Games! Explore four thrilling games that students can play to build their vocabulary, spatial awareness, and communication skills.

This Timely Topic does all the heavy lifting so you can focus on what matters – teaching!

For more free educational resources, check out out these teacher-tested strategies from Blue Apple!