Teacher Toolbox

Language Games Overview

classroom gamesDuring activity time, guide children to participate in games to support language skills. Games in the classroom need to be used as tools to learn the appropriate social skills as well as to support academic learning.  These activities can be incorporated into language arts, writing, spelling, and reading instruction.

Working with games in the classroom can provide situations for students to practice using problem solving skills, language skills, and social skills, such as self-awareness, and learning to recognize nonverbal social cues. This simulates the skills children need to functioning in less structured environments.

Before working with games in the classroom, it is important to establish the classroom as a safe, nurturing environment that clearly defines the expectations of the interactions. 

Suggestions for Using Games Effectively in the Classroom
  • Select developmentally appropriate games that clearly match the targeted skills.  Games that are too complex or difficult to play will overwhelm children and can be hard to use as a teaching tool.

  • Explicitly state the purpose of the game and the targeted skill.  This will help to direct the focus on the learning and not the task.
    For example, state to the children, " you are going to practice with word categories; to do this we are going to play Outburst …" Then clearly define the directions of the game and any changes to the instructions.

  • Competitiveness can interfere with the learning activity.  It is necessary to direct the focus away from the winning of the game.

  • Some children will need reassurance that it doesn’t matter who wins or loses.  It will be necessary to monitor the children’s reactions to the activity and to redirect if necessary. 
    For example, if a child becomes excited and begins to chant, " I am winning…" or uses a put down such as calling the other players "loser" the situation will need immediate adult intervention. The correction will need to be implemented in accordance with the classroom rules.