I really like to keep my social studies class fun and engaging, and one way I do that is to play a lot of games. Students are much more engaged in a review GAME rather than a review LECTURE! Also, I like to play lots of DIFFERENT games so that students don’t get bored. Each of these games begins with a PowerPoint full of review questions, but the game process changes each chapter. Please beg, borrow, and steal from the list below to keep your class exciting!
TrashBall: Divide students into at least four teams. Give each team ten X’s on the white board. Use masking tape to mark two lines on the floor as “shooting lines” and place a clean trashcan a few feet from the lines. Pose a question to a team. A correct answer allows that team to erase two X’s from another team. The answering team also shoots a basket from either the two point line or the three point line. A made basket allows that team to erase two or three more points from any team. A team who has no X’s left may gain them back by answering questions and making baskets. The team with the most X’s wins. There was a SERIOUS sense of competition in my room as teams cheered for others when shooting and while deciding which X’s to erase. Teams even started building alliances!
Sink or Swim: Divide the class into at least two teams. Pose a question to one team. If they get it right, they earn one point as well as the opportunity to “sink” a player on the opposite team. As the game progresses, teams continue to earn points and sink players on the opposite team, but they can also “swim” a player who has been sunk. Again, the highest scoring team wins. My favorite aspect of the game is that the kids who usually answer the questions are sunk immediately and the reluctant participators are forced to engage in the game!
Liar, Liar: Divide the class into at least two teams. Pose a question to one team. Each team member who believes they know the answer stands. The opposite team gets to pick who answers the question. If the chosen person gets the question right, the team earns the number of points equal to the number of players standing (which explains the motivation to stand even if you don’t know the answer!) Team with the most points wins…or perhaps it is the team who lies the best!
Win, Lose, or Draw: Divide the class into at least two teams. Pose a question to one team. The team earns five points for a each correct answer–that’s the “win” part. The team can then choose to draw from a deck of cards that include situations like add # points, lose # points, lose a turn, steal # points, double your score, etc. Let your imagination go crazy! Again, team with the most points wins.
Triple Play: Divide the class into at least two teams and provide each team with a white board and three “triple play” cards. Pose a question to all teams and allow them time to discuss their answer and write it on the white board. If the team feels VERY confident about their answer, they may use one of their “triple play” cards and earn three times the points. If they are wrong, they lose that many points from their total score.
Baseball: Divide the class into two teams. Display a baseball field on the board. Pose a question to one team. Each correct answer advances the team one base. Build in “home run” or double/triple play questions as well (utilize true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and open-ended questions). The team with the most runs at the end wins. You could totally do this with football…I’m just not much of a football guru to compose the rules!
King/Queen of the (Insert Topic Here): Have all students stand up. Pose a multiple choice question to the class and have each student answer by raising 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers (representing A, B, C, D. You could also do this on individual white boards). When a student gets a question wrong, they are required to sit down (ask them to keep answering the questions to stay engaged). The last person left standing is the King/Queen. Put their name on the board for bragging rights.
Hot Seat: Ask a student volunteer to sit in the front of the class in the “hot seat” while you pose a multiple choice question to the entire class. Have all students answer the question by answering via Socrative, white boards, or by a show of hands. The student in the chair answers last. If a student gets the question right, I give them one point of extra credit. If the student gets the question right but the class gets it wrong, I give the student two points of extra credit. I like that this game forces everyone to participate but includes a little extra “show off” time for a kid who wants it.
Board Races: Divide the class into at least two teams. Have each team send a representative to the board. Pose a question to all players. First person to answer the question correctly earns their team one point. One variation on this game is to only put one marker (or piece of chalk) in the tray. When a student thinks they know the answer, they have to get ahold of the marker and write the answer. This makes it MUCH easier for me to know who had the right answer! Team with the most points wins.
Tic Tac Toe: Divide the class into two teams. Pose a question to one team. A correct answer allows the team to place an X or O on the board in a square of their choice. Continue running the game just like normal tic tac toe. This is fun because all kids know how to play and have very strong feelings about the best strategy! Many classic games–Checkers, Connect Four, etc.–can be played in this same fashion.
Double or Nothing: Divide the class into at least two teams. Build your PowerPoint using animations so that there is a question followed “on click” by multiple choice options. Pose an open-ended question to one team. The team can answer the question, without the options, for two points. If they don’t get it, the other team may steal the question for two points or choose to have the teacher display the multiple choice options. If the team uses the multiple choice options, they only receive one point for a correct answer.
I highly recommend using a “Vanna White” for any of the games that require score keeping. My favorite games are the ones that force teams to work together and strategize in addition to recall the material. What great games do you use in your class?