Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapter 4 {Games}

I'm linking up with one of my favorites, Katie, from Queen of the First Grade Jungle, to talk about chapter 4!  This chapter is, by far, one of my personal favorites!  

Strategy 4:

"When students develop a game's content as well as play the game, the amount of time they are exposed to and involved with the content is doubled." {Allen, 2008}

What I like about that quote is it really targets our primary students as well as our upper elementary, middle and high school students.  I mentioned in my discussion of chapter 1 that sometimes the use of these strategies wains as our students progress through the years.  The use of games can be so powerful - both in the creation of them as well as the actual playing.  I can envision middle school students creating games for their peers just as easily as I can see my little first graders enjoying the games they play on a daily basis.  Games are where it's at, people!

Kahoot is digital game-based learning

My middle school son loves when his social studies teacher has him create quizzes for whatever they are working on/reviewing.  He loves it even more when his Kahoot is chosen to use for a class review.  I love that his middle school teacher understands the value of games in the middle school classroom!

"Games are not only perfect for raising the level of feel-good amines in the brain but also, in the correct amounts, games can also increase cognition and working memory." {Jensen, 2007}

{Amine, in this case = dopamine}

Reading this chapter came at just the right time.  I received an email from a parent who told me that her child is experiencing anxiety over memorizing her math facts. {Math fact fluency in first grade is a whole 'nother ball of wax and blog topic - oy} My teacher-heart was so sad to read this.  It's nothing new, every year I have a parent express concern over this and rightfully so. My automatic teacher go-to was to remind her to keep it fun in order to eliminate the stress factor.  Play games, grab the sidewalk chalk and write some math facts on the sidewalk {once the snow clears}, give her some problems in the tub and have her write the answers with tub crayons, play giant step where you hold up a flash card and have her and her sister take a giant step forward each time they get a fact right  - first.  The first person to reach the person holding the flash cards - wins! 

Cortisol - BAD
Dopamine - GOOD!

This chapter gives TONS of great games that a teacher/parent can play with their students/children!
One of those ideas was bringing in a Nerf ball and tossing it to children as they answer questions which made me think of this...

Wouldn't this be fun to incorporate into your day?  
*Read all of your word wall words?  Take 3 shots!
*Read with awesome fluency/expression?  Take 5 shots!
*Figured out a tricky math problem?  Take 10 shots!
*Helped a friend pick up a dropped crayon box? Take 5 shots!

In a nutshell, games engage student brains!

And don't you just love hearing...

You have really hit the nail on the head when they don't even realize they are learning!

Want to read more thoughts about this chapter?  Go visit Katie's blog and join the linky party!

Care to share any fun & simple games that are a fan favorite!? Leave a comment below!


  1. Holly,

    I LOVE the basketball idea... my teacher mind is turning trying to figure out where I can put a small hoop in my room. Your comment about parents using these strategies is a great one. My kiddos are practicing math facts as well... I think a note home with some ideas for parents to change up math fact practice will be welcomed by parents and kids alike. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. I know, I have the PERFECT closet for it - now I have to go out and buy one {although I did consider stealing my own two boys' hoop...ha!}

  2. The basketball hoop is a super idea, but I was most impressed by the fact that you also included rewards for helping out a friend. Teaching them not just academics, but also to be kinder people - lovely! Just imagine how things could change in the adult world if more people thought this way.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    Primary Inspiration

    1. Thanks a bunch...you gotta celebrate when our little ones are able to think outside of themselves, right!? ;)

  3. Hey Holly - my children all loved Anime and my youngest, now 16, is even in the Anime Club in High School. Yep, it serves as a dopamine dump! Thanks for your awesome review and cool ideas.


  4. I am so eager to try Kahoot with my class. I think they would love it. We are using Plickers but I think this would be just as fun! I love all of the ideas you are sharing for this book study.

    1. Thanks a bunch, Sylvia! I haven't tried Kahoot with my first graders - but like I said, my 7th grader LOVES it!

  5. I love the basketball idea as well! It could even be seasonal: soccer kicks, football (nerf) throws at a target, playing catch (baseball). I'll have to put a basketball hoop on my summer garage sale list.

    A Very Curious Class

  6. Holly,
    I love the basketball hoop idea...just to let kids do some moving with a little excitement! I hear you about the parent email, it is the worst when a child stresses out learning. Great suggestions to the mom! I always enjoy reading your thoughts...I hope when my boys go to Middle School they have teachers playing games too! Melissa

    1. Thanks a bunch for visiting my blog and chiming in!

  7. Love the basketball idea..my kids would eat that up...might be just the ticket for of my reluctant readers. Really enjoyed your post.I enjoyed this chapter too. We enjoy I have, who has?, Inside/Outside Circle spelling and math fact reviews, and anything we can review while tossing a ball. I often use this for counting activities.

    1. Isn't that the truth about adding a ball to the mix? Gets them every time!

      Thanks for sharing! :)


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