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Five Superb Ways to Play Board Games with Your Students

Hi friends. I don’t know about you, but I loved board games as a kid. Family game night was a common thing at my house. I remember sitting around the table playing Scrabble with my grandpa, Monopoly with my brothers, and the game of Life.

My kids also love board games, but when I get online it’s tricky to play with no pieces. I’ve had days when I’ll look at the screen and find that my kids have scribbled all over the place. Kids would fight over the rules and argue about cheating. Trying to play a board game became not a fun activity. Board games are a perfect opportunity to practice reading skills. But, how the heck do you successfully do it online and still stay in control of the lesson?

This week, I’m sharing a Freebie board game for Veterans Day to celebrate our heroes. I’m also sharing all my tips on how to play board games online. If you attended my Games & Movement webinar, thank you for your support! I hope you also got the email to sign up for the free webinar about using the document camera. If you didn’t attend, don’t worry, there’s more to come. Check out my new event that I’m having on Veterans Day. I’ll be doing one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Find more information on the morning session HERE and the afternoon session HERE. I hope to see you there! It’s free for you because of all that you do for students.

Some problems of playing boardgames with kids is that they can throw a dice across the room and a power struggle begins as they scramble to chase it. Online, we can lose control of the moment when kids begin to draw all over the board. There are also the students who begin to chant that we, or another child, are cheating. So, how do we prevent all this online and make it a fun learning experience? Remember, board games are worth it. They’re a really easy way to practice reading skills. They can also be a wonderful opportunity for kids to work together while practicing a skill, building quality teacher-student relationships, and having conversations with your students. I remember having great conversations with my grandpa during Scrabble. Kids also like being competitive. Board games just work so well. Board games, though, were definitely a trial-and-error thing. So, this week I’m sharing my best tips to successfully play a board game online or off.

Top 5 tips to make board games fun while teaching concepts:

1. Use a virtual dice. Whether I’m online or in person, I use a virtual dice. It eliminates the possibility of my students throwing it across the room, which a lot of them like to do. Online, I can easily pop it under the document camera and have the kids clearly see it. To make it more engaging, tell them to notify you when you should spin to give them some control of the lesson, even though you still are in control.

2. A little tape or putty goes a long way. If you have the problem of your board game sliding around like I did, use some tape or putty to keep it down. Kids get frustrated when they are using the mark-up tools, the board game slides, and then their markings don’t align anymore. The game board will stay in place and won’t wiggle around if you try this tip. Your students’ mark-ups will always align!

3. Include students in making rules. I found that students often feel that things aren’t fair when playing games which leads to a lot of frustration. I learned to include them in rule making. Use board games that are blank or appeal to their interests. I always include this tip in the free board games that I send out to my community. More games are coming as we move into the holiday season. Click HERE if you would like to be on the email list to be notified first for new games being released! Flexible thinkers will also like the game more when they are included in rule making. It also eliminates students from saying that a rule is not fair because they were the ones who made it.

4. This tip is to help avoid interruption of our lessons by playing a board game. Use the board game as a connection to the lesson. Using your own word cards or letter sounds from your own materials will connect the game to your lesson and avoid interrupting the flow for the students. They may not even realize that they are practicing a skill because they will be having so much fun.

5. This last tip is one of my favorites. I hear from a lot of teachers that board games just can’t be played online. Yes, they can! Pop any board game under the document camera. My favorite is the InSwan. Click HERE to read more about it. Have your students use the tools to mark it up and go around the board. My favorite part is to put the virtual dice on my phone and ask the kids to tell me when to spin. It keeps it interactive and engaging. Even if your students don’t have tools, they can still count with you as you move them around the board.

I love playing board games, and it was hard to initially play them online. I hope some of these tips have helped you like they helped me. We can still play board games with our students online, without power struggles, and without a whole lot of prep time. Let me know which game you will play this week with your students in the comments! I can’t wait to hear about it.

If you missed the link to the free Veterans Day game, HERE it is again. Enjoy!!

Have a great week!


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