Since my school is on a modified calendar, we have a week in fall to review concepts we’ve studied in the first part of the year. In addition to review lessons, I include lots of games to play. Here are some of my favorites—and more importantly, the students’ favorites!
I don't take much time on introducing these games, because ideally, an adult will be at each game to provide a quick introduction right before the children play. If I am short helpers and the students must play the matching game independently, I will go over the basics of that game.
Otherwise, I describe the games and get students to their appropriate areas so we can begin!
This game is super easy, but the kids love it. All you need is a bunch of cards with numbers for students to identify. Because of my love of cute, I use little round cards with apples on them, and I write numbers to review on the apples. For every group of numbers, 0-5 for instance, put in a card that says “ROTTEN APPLE!” (I use an apple with a worm on my “ROTTEN APPLE” card, just for fun.) I laminate the cards for durability.
To play: Students sit in a circle and the cards are mixed and placed in a paper bag or a container so students can’t see the cards. We move around the circle quickly—this is key, because you don’t want there to be any “lulls”—with students pulling out cards.
If a student can name the number on the card, then the student keeps the card. If he or she says the wrong number or doesn’t know the number on the card, I quickly say, “FIVE,” for instance. We all say “FIVE” and the card goes back in the bag.
The “ROTTEN APPLE” is the big equalizer. Any kiddo can draw a “ROTTEN APPLE” card, at which point, all of their cards go back into the bag. So it is possible for a student who really doesn’t know his or her numbers to have ZERO cards, but it’s also possible for a student who knows all of their numbers to have ZERO cards, if he or she randomly draws a ROTTEN APPLE card.
I don’t usually have a “winner” for the game. We are all winners, because we get number identification practice! At the end of the game, I like to get that last little reinforcement, so I say, if you have a 3, pass in your 3… If you have a 0, pass in your 0,” etc…
Apple Tree Number/Quantity “Pick an Apple!” or match game
Here’s another game that is very simple but can require an adult or a “big person” to sit at the game. I use blank tree clip art and my beloved apple paper punch to make these cards. I use apple-colored paper for fun, and I put numbers on half of the trees and glue quantities of apples (from my apple paper punch) on other trees, and I laminate the cards. Once I get them cute, I want to use them again and again!
To play “Pick an Apple!” it’s good to not have too many kiddos in your group. This is most important because “Pick an Apple” is essentially my apple version of the classic “Go Fish!” Now I’m not sure about your students, but my kiddos do not know how to play “Go Fish!” I have to teach the little turkeys how to hold the cards without showing them, pull out matches & set them down on the table, and even pull cards from the pile in the middle of the table! If I have too many kids at the table, I wear myself out, rushing from kid to kid to help when it is each student’s turn.
To play, just like “Go Fish!” I deal out 5 cards to each student. I help them put the cards into their hands and I show them how to hold them without showing the cards to everyone. We look for matches and set them on the table.
I help each student ask another student, “[Child’s name], do you have a 3?” explain that 3 could be the number 3 or a card with 3 apples on the tree.
Then I bounce over to the kid who was asked, and I help that child look without showing every card in his or her hand. We either pass the requested card, or we say, “Pick an apple!” directing the asker to draw a card from our pile.
It’s exhausting to play that first time, I’m not lying, but once they know how to play, it is so FUN to see them playing and practicing like such big kids! Eventually—not the first, second, or third time—this can become an independent activity!
Now, if you don’t have a big person to sit with this group of kiddos, you can turn this game into a matching game, where students can work at a table independently and practice matching the cards. It’s not as lively or engaging, but it is a viable option if you need an independent activity. (I make very certain to choose students to work together carefully—not too many high-energy kiddos, not too many spacy kiddos, not too many mini-teachers. I try to find the best balance of student personalities possible.)
Apple Seeds, “Please Pass the…”
I invented this game when I was faced with a ginormous group of kindergartners in my intersession review class, and I needed a third activity. I wanted to continue to stress the relationship between numbers and the quantities they represent, but I wanted a different type of game, so I came up with this game, which is really an adaptation and a blend of other games.
I start with a paper bag and a group of kiddos sitting around a table.
“The object of this game is to get matching sets, friends, like this.” [I show an apple with the number 2 on it, and I show an apple with 2 seeds.]
“How are these the same?” I ask.
I pick a student who says, “They are both 2!”
“Exactly,” I reply. “You can have only 2 cards in front of you at a time. You want to make matches, so we are putting apples back in the bag, and watching our friends’ turns very closely. If say, I have a 3, and [student’s name] pulls an apple with 3 seeds, when it’s my turn, I’m going to ask, ‘[student’s name], please pass the 3 seeds.’ Of course, I say ‘Thank you,’ and then I get a point on our point board!
“Now, you won’t get a point every time, but you want to keep looking for sets or pairs of matching cards.”
The students begin reaching in the bag & announcing the number (or quantity) they pull, and placing the cards in front of themselves on the table. At first, I help them notice potential matches, but at least most of the kiddos in our group catch on to the jist of the game really quickly. It becomes fun and lively!
I take score on our whiteboard on wheels because when I notice when I ask the kids to get up and make their tally marks, some students are confused about tally marks, and the getting up and down from the table slows the game. So I become the scorekeeper on this game.
***After we finish our game rotation—about 10-12 minutes per game, then we all come together to do our Apple Seeds Mix ‘n Match as a big group. I use the same apple seed cards I used for the “Please Pass the…” game.
Apple Seeds Mix ‘n Match
This is my favorite! I just LOVE activities where kids can move! My favorite activities are the ones where kids can use all of their senses—seeing, hearing, touching, and moving. It makes learning more active, so it keeps them focused, too.
I talked briefly about this one in the short video clip, but I will happily write about it here as well. I went to the teacher’s store and bought some inexpensive, small “accents” that I wrote our review numbers on some, and I drew little seeds on others (for quantities). I laminated these for durability, as well.
To play this game, every student gets an apple (or a card—you could easily make this game with Ellison die-cut apples and construction paper or even plain 3” X 5” cards), and I explain that while the music is going, they are trading cards the whole time.
“You can never have more than 1 card”, I say adamantly. “How many cards can you have at one time?”
The students answer, “1!” Now, don’t think you won’t get kids with more than one card—I thought the clear directions would work, but I had some little turkeys who got so excited every time the music got going that they get a little nutty.
As the music goes, I get right in the mix of kiddos, helping the more confused or reserved kids pass their cards to other students.
When I stop the music, I help the students find a partner with the matching number or quantity, link arms, and then move to the edge of the group to sit down. That shows me they’re ready to review.
For the last couple pairs, I have to help them find their partners, especially because the 2-card turkeys are usually standing and confused, but we eventually end up getting all linked up with partners and sitting down.
Quickly, then, I move around the group from pair to pair, asking, “What’s your number?” The students answer, and eventually, we get back up and repeat the process again.
The kids LOVE this activity! I put fun, Top 40 music (but “clean” versions—no bad words, of course) that the kids enjoy, so they’re singing and dancing around as they switch their cards, and it is such a fantastic way to practice number and quantity identification, while letting the kids move around and have fun.
After the students have played the number games, I get everyone together to go over our lesson objectives.
“We played a lot of games and had fun today. What were we practicing?” some little goofball might interject, “Our dance moves!” but students are pretty quick to say, “Numbers we’ve learned.”
I add that we’re also practicing the amounts that the numbers show, or quantities. "Let's all say 'quantities,' I say. What's a quantity, again?" I ask a few kiddos to remind us what a quantity is.
When asked about their favorite parts, the students tend to say they like the Mix ‘n Match game best. I know they still like the other games, and I’m appreciative for the opportunity to get to practice in a fun, playful manner.