Archive for ‘games and activities’

February 8, 2012

Synonym Scavenger Hunt

by stryson

My classroom does not really make a good case for proving my sanity right now. If you were to walk in through my door, one of the first things you’d see is this:

Yes, at first glance, it appears that I’ve labeled my printer “automobile.” No, I haven’t completely lost my vocabulary skills.

I actually set up an ongoing game/activity for my reading classes, in which I have a stack of index cards with “simple” words on them, like “funny,” “sad,” etc.

Around my room, I’ve taped fancier synonyms for these words. Examples for the ones in this picture include “hilarious,” “considerate,” “stroll,” “canine,” “automobile,” and “luminous.”



At the beginning of class, as they walk through the doorway, each child receives a card. He or she has to find the matching synonym and return both cards to me before he or she is allowed to sit down to begin class.

Today, it went well. Moving forward? We’ll see how it goes. I’m reaching for any fun entertaining way to expand these kids’ vocabularies and to make them really think about their word choices.

August 1, 2011

Pizza Fraction Fun

by stryson

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, and as the subtitle above suggests, I am primarily a reading teacher. However, I have taught several other subjects, including social studies, computers, and math. While these are not my primary focus, I do spend a fair amount of time working in these areas. I no longer teach math in school, for example, but I have several tutoring jobs wherein our focus is math. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend a resource for math today.

When I work with children in math, I focus on keeping the lessons highly interactive, heavy on visual and kinesthetic clues, and full of fun. To that end, I utilize a lot of math games with my students. When we get to factions, there’s one game in particular that I’ve come to really like and my kids consistently request. That game is Pizza Fraction Fun.

I like this game because it’s flexible. The pieces can be used for a lesson, and there are 6 variations of gameplay provided in the box. Depending on your lesson, it’s  very easy to come up with challenges outside of these games, as well. It helps kids get a spatial feel for fractions, see how equivalent fractions work, learn to add and subtract fractional pieces, and all the while, it is amusing to them because it’s based around realistic-looking slices of pizza. If you’re looking for a way to make your students less hostile to learning fractions, I’d recommend this as a piece of your plan.

July 29, 2011

Synonyms, part 1

by stryson

Uh, oh! There’s ambition in the title – a promise of further synonym posts in the future!

In all seriousness, though, I swung by the school today to pick up a couple of things I needed to do work from home and decided to eat lunch at my computer and do some web-exploring. During the year, I find myself so pressed for time that I don’t always find a broad range of resources…. and then I am disappointed to find them later, when that lesson has passed. Today, I decided to run a search on synonyms and antonyms, and I ended up narrowing my scope just to synonyms for the time being.

I’ve yet to find a good video to go with a synonym/antonym lesson – if anyone can link to a suggested one, please do so in the comments!

I did, however, find some useful games. The first is called Word Frog, and it’s from Arcademic Skill Builders. I like this game for several reasons. First, it’s cute. Secondly, it tracks the player’s progress on a graph. This means that I can check on a student’s progress if they use this game for independent time, and it also means that there’s another chance for a cross-curriculum moment. We can look at these graphs together and discuss briefly what they mean, bringing math into the reading classroom.

I anticipate much excitement about the next game I have to share, at least from my students. Scholastic has a Captain Huggyface synonym game! (For those of you not familiar with Captain Huggyface, he is a character on the PBS Kids show WordGirl.) This game is called Synonym Toast.

Speaking of PBS Kids, they have a game on their site that is also good for practicing synonyms, Synonym Sam’s Lab.

I’m still picking through resources for worksheets & thesaurus resources. I’ll save them for the next post. Until then, have a nice, good, enjoyable, pleasurable, entertaining, amusing time trying out these games.

July 11, 2011

Another Typing Game

by stryson

I mentioned the need for typing games back in this post. One of the games I mentioned in there was Typer Shark. I found a game that’s similar in concept, with different animals. I find it a bit cuter, probably because it’s easy to tire of Typer Shark after using it with your students for years at a time. Its easy levels are also a bit easier than those of Typer Shark. It’s called Super Hyper Spider Typer. What a tongue twister!

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July 9, 2011

Music Games

by stryson

While looking for educational games, I came across a couple of music games that can be useful.

The first, Musical Notes, tests one’s ability to read notes in sheet music. It’s important to note that they give you only one octave of a keyboard – middle c and the c in the middle of the staff are both played on the same key in this game. Be careful in level 3 – they bring in bass clef!

The second game is TRICKY, and I only recommend it to those with some amount of ear training experience and/or a whole lot of patience. The game is called Music Memory. The only gripe I really have with this game is that I wish they’d give an example of “do” before each challenge. I have great relative pitch, but picking out the starting note several challenges in was the hardest part for me.

July 7, 2011

Resource: Social Studies

by stryson

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids

This site has useful resources for Social Studies classes at all grade levels.  The games are really ideal for the upper grades of elementary school and lower grades of middle school, but the resources throughout the  rest of the page are pretty well adjusted for the grade levels they want to serve. I’m biased, since I have one, but I think this site would be most ideally used on the smart board, working together as a group.  I found out about this website from a girl in my third grade social studies class during the 2010-11 school year. That class became particularly obsessed with the map games on the site, which can be found here.





May 26, 2011


by stryson

Apologies for the sparse posts of late. My husband and I are buying a house, and the process has consumed any brain power I have left at the end of the day. Things should be back to normal soon.

I found a very cute game for figurative language, and I used it on the smart board today with my students. It’s called “Fling the Teacher.” The link is here.

March 24, 2011

Inferencing Skills

by stryson

Inferencing and drawing conclusions are incredibly difficult to teach, but I’m trying to make them fun for my students.  Here are two ideas I’ve been working with:

Guess The Holiday

I passed out an index card with  a holiday name written on it to each of the students. (I stretched for some “holidays.” It’d be more accurate to call them “special days,” since I included first & last day of school, birthday, etc.)  One by one, they took turns coming up to tell the class about their day, without mentioning the holiday.  The rest of the class had to guess what holiday they had.  Some were easy; Christmas was guessed almost immediately.  Last day of school and April Fool’s were middling in difficulty, and the kids really struggled with Easter – though that had more to do with the “it” student’s expressive language abilities more than anything.  All in all, the kids had fun with this, and it made them think.

Describe the Person

Next week (once standardized testing is done), I am doing this activity with my students.  First, I am going to bring in several bags – a backpack, a duffel bag, a grocery bag.  Each is going to have several objects inside.  The kids will have to describe the fictional owner of the bag based on what they know from those objects.  I’ve never tried this activity before; I’ll report on how it goes.

Anyone have other good ideas for inferencing activities?  The more game-like they are or seem, the better.