Two Learning Activities for Children Ages 6 - 9
Games That Are Fun
Don't you just love finding an activity that your kids enjoy and is good for them at the same time? It's even better when it is something they can learn quickly, clamor to play, and can do by themselves, taking turns being the "teacher" or the "leader." These two games reinforce elementary school learning concepts,and use ihousehold supplies.
I am a retired elementary school teacher, and I love any learning activity which is so much fun that children choose to play. See if these two games work for your child or home schooling group.
Number Duel Cards
The Number Duel
When you combine body moving, gentle competition, and brain work, solving the problem quickly becomes the exciting stuff of victors. This math game uses pieces of stiff paper or cardboard with a number written on each and about twenty feet of space. My second-grade students also added a calculator for the "leader" to check answers. (Calculator use is a recommended skill for kindergarten up. It just should be done in a way that does not replace memorizing the basic math facts.)
Each piece of cardboard should have a large number between zero and ten (or up to the number fifteen depending on the math abilities of the players). Two children play at a time, but children in a large group can play along mentally by looking at the cards of the two "duelers." The two duelers take their places back-to-back with their hands hanging down in front of themselves. The leader hands each a single card in a position where the number side is facing the child's legs, and she cannot see what it is. It takes a little practice doing this so that the dueler does not see the number as she is receiving the card. Also, the leader should try hard to position the card with the number upside-down, so that when the child raises her arms above her head, the number is then in the correct position for the opponent to read. You are done with the hardest part!
The leader calls out very dramatically, "One!," and the players each take one big step away from each other with the card staying down. Then the leader shouts, "Two!," and they take another giant step away from each other. The leader calls, "Three!" for the last step taken. Next, the leader calls out , "Turn and DRAW!" At this direction, each dueler turns to face her opponent and at the same time, raises her hands with the card straight up until it rests on the top of her head. The result is that she cannot see her own number, but her opponent and the rest of the waiting kids can.
The challenge is for the child to guess and say what her number is first. (Also, the audience plays along by mentally reviewing the addition or multiplication sentence.)
The leader gives the clue in either an adding or multiplying answer. Obviously, this choice is based on the abilities of the players. Let's say that these are children who know addition facts, but are not yet doing multiplying. Example: The leader will say "The sum is 15." Then each dueler will figure out "hmmmm, SUM minus what I see my opponent's number is must equal MY number." Perhaps the player sees that the other number is 8. By doing subtraction, or fill-in-the-blank for the addition fact, he will shout "7." The first kid to call out the correct answer wins and gets to stay for another duel with a new challenger. It works equally well with multiplication and there is no problem if both players happen to have the same number.
The cards can be used over and over. Maybe your children will even use them for other activities!
The DICTIONARY Game
Ok, I said inexpensive supplies. This next one probably won't be a burden in a school classroom, where there may be a shelf of dictionaries. At home, you need an identical dictionary for each player. The good news is that there are a lot of great children's dictionaries at varying levels in bookstores. If they don't quite fit in the household budget, perhaps grand- or god-parents can help out. This is an investment that will end up helping with much more than game playing!
Speed is a part of this game also. The other basic skill is using the alphabet the way we do to look up words. So, if the kids have learned how to do this or are working on this skill, the dictionary game turns it into fun.
The leader can be a permanent assignment, or the children can take turns being the leader. Whichever is the case, the leader must have the same dictionary as the players and must be spaced somewhere slightly back, or have his/her dictionary behind a barrier such as a folder, so that he can look up a word without it being seen by the others.
The leader chooses a word that he or she can pronounce and makes a mental note of its page number. Or, the leader can keep a bookmark in the place. But, the important thing is that the players do not get to see its relative position (front, middle, or back) in the book.
The players sit with a closed, repeat CLOSED, dictionary in front of them. Then leader calls out the word. Immediately, the children may open their dictionary and find the word. If needed, the leader can repeat the word several times. The first child to find the correct word wins. Often, they like to read the definition while they are there!
My second graders could not get enough of this game during free time. They even taught their parents how to play it at Open House!
Anything your children do to improve upon these ideas, which may cause them to do even more learning, is alright by me. Please let me know how the games go over. : )
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Photo and text copyright 2008 Maren E. Morgan