Friday, February 19, 2010

Better Than Video Games.

I feel like there is a great deal of trickery going on when teaching my students. We play a variety of learning games. They find it fun and entertaining, and alternately learn a great deal in the process. It should come as no surprise that learning doesn't have to be boring. It's especially easy when teaching the younger ages to surround them their specific learning style: FUN.

I have discovered a great need in the review of writing numbers. I have targeted it from many angles already this year, yet decided a new type of game was needed in hopes to promote their learning in this area further. I ended up developing a game just for them.

The game focus: Tracing numbers 2-9. Normally, I am not a big fan of general "tracing" numbers, but because many of our number writing activities have already involved a primary large motor skill connection, I was in support of trying it from this new angle.

The primary task: write numbers 2-9, not once or twice, but fifteen times in less than two minutes. I put the practice sheet with 15 outlines of the same number in a page protector, gave them a dry erase marker, and hit the play button for a short song on our Alphabet CD.

The process: race to see if they could finish all 15 numbers by the end of the song. It became an alternate task in promoting teamwork. When one finished, they encouraged their friends to get done. "Come on, you can do it!" they would encourage. If they were successfully ALL done with every number, I threw in an extra compliment in our compliment jar.

To finish, we wiped off our boards and passed our papers to our neighbor, ready to conquer the next number.

The outcome: Their numbers have been better ever since. I found that one of the reasons why it worked so well was because we were able to make a race of it-- not for bragging rights, but for the sole purpose of "I did it." They felt accomplished and encouraged that learning to write letters doesn't have to be so laborious. I can assure you that if I had given each of them a page to trace 15 numbers they would not have been so motivated to finish in a timely matter. Every number wouldn't even be completed in the less than 20 minutes it took for this activity.

The bonus: They loved it! "This is better than watching the movie Ice Age," someone happily shared. "This is even better than video games!" a boy added. OK, now if I can come up with an activity that's better than TV and video games, then we have a real winner. They are looking forward to the next time they get to practice their numbers in this fun and memorable way.

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