Gamify Your Lesson Plan

Thank you to Brian Van Slyke of the TESA Collective for sharing tools and tips for integrating cooperative games into school-based programs. Cooperative games can teach social emotional learning skills, review content/vocabulary/concepts, prime students for new information, and be just plain fun!

Here’s what we did:

  • Icebreaker: Guess My Game
    • Participants wrote down their favorite game on a post-it note in secret. They passed the note to their neighbor who stuck it to their head. In small groups, each participant asked questions to the group to figure out which game they had in their forehead. Ex. “Is my game an athletic game?” “Can this game be played with children?”
  • Very Simple Game: Veggie Throw
    • Participants stand in a circle with others. One person has a plush veggie (or any other object) and calls out a meal (ex. pizza). They throw it from person to person in the group until the teacher says stop. Whoever has the veggie when “stop” is called needs to name one ingredient of that meal (ex. tomatoes).
    • This game can easily be adapted to review content for any topic (ex. ways to care for dogs, ways to stay safe in a fire, ways to recognize healthy relationships…).
  • Simple Game: Fax Machine
    • All participants get an identity and agenda (ex. you are conservative news station) as well as a piece of paper with the description of an environmental event. Each participant draws a picture that represents that event through your character’s lens and then folds the paper to hide the original text (only the picture is showing). They then pass the paper to their neighbor who only sees the picture and has to write what they think the picture represents. The next person only sees the text (picture folded down) and so on, until the game stops. The last person unfolds the paper and reads the entire exchange.
    • This game can be used to show students how different points of view can change the description of an event.
    • Brian’s example game: Climate Change Fax Machine.
  • Slightly Advanced Game: Everyone Wins or Loses
    • Groups of 5 share a Cooperative Game Board. Participants take turns picking a game card and acting out/answering/drawing the challenge on the card. If they succeed, the single team game piece moves one space toward “Win” and if not, the game piece moves toward “Lose.” The entire team wins or loses together.
    • This game can be adapted to fit any content or topic.
    • Brian’s example cards: Deck of Cards.
  • More Complicated Game: Co-opoly
    • Brian explained the essentials of the game and groups of 4-5 played the game.
    • This game is an example of a complicated cooperative game. It can’t necessarily be adapted for use for other content, but it can serve as a model for complicated cooperative games.
  • Gallery Walk
    • Small groups of workshop participants walked around the room and read different examples, stories and information about cooperative games. They reflected on what they read by answering questions and talking with their group.
    • Brian’s gallery walk¬†materials.

Did you develop a game for use in your school-based program? Please share with us, and we’ll put you on our blog!


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