This second half of the term, I really want to encourage students to begin creating their own games. Today I set a challenge for my class. I said that our need is that we need to get to Stage 6 by the end of the year. The only way to achieve that is if we do these things (pointed out our 'Striving for Stage 6' display, which is becoming more a part of our dialogue in Maths time in Room 9. One student pointed out that it was Writing time, not Maths time - but I said all would be revealed.
It was very interesting to me, to observe the students who found it exciting to have this opportunity and who, at first used some of the resources I had laid out (maths equipment), but then thought they could do a better job coming up with their own rhyme/beat game to play. I also observed students using traditional maths equipment, but coming up with fun and original games I had not seen before. For example, one group chose the fake money and you were paid $10 for every 10x table question answered correctly, $5 for every 5x table, $3 for 3x table and $2 for 2x table questions. Students were excitedly coming up to me telling me how much they'd earned.
Other students used traditional equipment and made up traditional games such as flash card type games. That made me wonder if I had constrained their creative thinking by putting the equipment out. But, I thought, at least those who found it challenging, had something to go on - maybe next time, they would use it differently, or add a little spice to their game.
Overall, I was so happy with the level of fun and engagement and teamwork during the lesson. Students will be writing procedures for their games tomorrow (I get it now! Writing!). Then they will be practicing each others' games and voting on which game should be added to our maths tumble (if they're all awesome, we'll add them all!).
I did see just how important this type of learning is. Early childhood teachers might just shake their heads and say, "We do that every day!" This free flowing developmental play is so important for critical and creative thinking and I would definitely try this approach out again as this term continues.
I have given homework to my class also: to make up a game at home and to come to school on Friday, ready to share. I am really interested to see what they come up with, because I know as a child, I had the best fun with my siblings and cousins at home creating games.
Some students missed the netbooks and wanted to create online games - I think I will definitely give that a go too, but this was a really nice place to start our more creative part of the inquiry.