Guest Post by Jessica Freeman, freelance journalist from Sydney, Australia

We’ve all played and enjoyed games when we were kids. Back then, games were reserved for family time. At school, we were meant to tame our tempers and listen to everything the teachers said. Fortunately, things are different now. As a teacher, you have an opportunity to be part of that change. When games are used as instructional tools in the classroom, they boost students’ creativity and inspire them to learn.

Some teachers may wonder: “can games disturb the discipline in the classroom?” That’s a fair question. Whenever children play games, there is the risk that they might go wild. A teacher can have trouble keeping order in the classroom. Still, with the right approach, games can support the educational processes not only for young children, but for high-school and even college students as well. Let’s dive deeper into the issue.

Classroom Games: Who Are They Suitable For?

Elementary school children love games. At this age, kids are susceptible to instructions and opinions, so you have to be careful not to impose your own points of view. If a teacher limits the educational process to lecturing, homework and tests, they will suffocate children’s creativity. With games, on the other hand, children can discover knowledge and develop skills almost unintentionally.

Elementary school games should be simple, fun, and encouraging. Here are few examples of games suitable for the classroom:

  • Around the World Game – All students should pick a country and learn some facts about it. The next day, they will present those facts in front of the class, and the other students should guess what that country is.
  • Math Bingo – You can create a bingo board with numbers and clues that will lead to solutions. You can also use the Math Bingo app if you want to save time and show your students how they can use technology for learning.
  • Hangman – It’s a classic game that makes students think, but also improves their spelling and vocabulary skills.

In middle school and high school, the minds of students are less flexible. At this level, the games should be more intellectually challenging. These students see behind the intention of a game: making them learn. Thus, they will show resistance if the game is too basic. A teacher’s approach should be based on developing focus and discovering facts without relating the games to grades. Here are few examples of games that are suitable for middle school and high school:

  • Essay Writing Game – Divide the class in groups and pair each group with a professional essay writer from an online service, such as Australian Writings. Tell them to pick any topic from the curriculum and turn it into an amazing essay. When they work with a professional writer, they become aware of all principles of academic writing. Then, they will present the results and their impressions in front of the class, so you can all vote to choose the best project.
  • Quick Geography Challenge – You form groups of up to four students, and then you assign a letter. Each group should think of a country, city, village, river, mountain, animal, and plant on that letter, and they should do it as quickly as possible. When one of the groups is done, everyone stops writing. Then, you will read the results. They get 5 points for each correct answer, and 10 points for a correct answer that no one else thought of. For each mistake, you’ll give negative points.
  • Painting Guess – For this art game, you’ll give a lecture on the most notable features and painters of different art periods. Then, you’ll present different paintings and students should guess the painter and the period.
  • Photography Challenge – You can use this activity for different classes: history, geography, natural sciences, social sciences, biology, or art. Ask your students to take photos related to the curriculum, and then they will present them in class. You’ll have a voting to choose the best photograph.

The Other Side of the Coin: Games as Discipline Breakers

When you introduce any kind of game in the classroom, you’re expected to allow the students to have some fun. That can lead to a pitfall: too many jokes, too little attention, and no discipline in the classroom. When you stick to the “lecturing” model, through which you present the lesson and expect everyone to do an assignment related to it, the students are more likely to stay calm. The fun approach of a game takes them out of that routine. Thus, if your intention is to improve the discipline in the class, a game may not be the right approach.

Classroom games come with risks, regardless whether we’re talking about students at elementary, middle, or high school. That’s why you need a discipline plan for every single game you introduce. Present the rules of the game before the challenge starts. Explain that you won’t tolerate chaos in the classroom and ask if everyone understood the guidelines. Then, maintain your authority throughout the game, and remind them that you’re still there when they get carried away with fun.

Students can learn a great deal of skills through games, including creativity, teamwork, coordination in time and space, and good sportsmanship. The risks are worth taking! If you already know how to maintain discipline through usual lectures, the game won’t be a problem.

About the author:

Jessica Freeman is a professional journalist and a freelance content writer from Sydney, Australia. She focuses her content writing on teaching, education, business and academic topics. You can follow her on Facebook and Google+.