Sunday, August 18, 2013

Add a little more education to board games with counters!

You don’t have to use dice when playing board games!

Using dice when playing games is fine, if your school allows it, but next time consider using counters instead.  Whether you are playing an educational game, or a game just for fun, using counters is an easy way to sneak in a little extra learning. 

I started using counters one day when I realized none of my 5th grade ESL students knew how to read roman numerals.  I decided to take that opportunity to teach a quick lesson on the basics.  I already planned on playing a game that day so, instead of using dice, I wrote out I-VI on pieces of paper and had my students draw them out of a hat.  As we played the game some of the students had trouble remembering how much IV and VI were.  This gave the students an opportunity to discuss the two numbers, how roman numerals work, and the opportunity to teacher each other.  After that day I never went back to using dice.

Roman numerals are just one way you can use counters to practice content.  With younger students you might simply use the numbers themselves, hash marks, or dots they have to count.  You can also use equations that equal numbers 1-6 to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division... etc.    The possibilities really are endless. 

Reasons not to use dice
·         Some schools discourage or even ban the use of dice because of their association with gambling.
·         $ As a teacher I am always trying to save $ and stretch my classroom budget as far as I can.  
·        Dice are like socks.  Half of them always seem to magically disappear when you need them.  At school and at home.

Reasons to use counters
·         $ Counters can be virtually free!  Just put whatever you want on a piece of paper and cut it out.
·         Easy to replace.  If you make them on the computer you can just print them out again and again.  This comes in handy if they start to resemble socks and dice.
·         Adaptability.  You can make counters that cover a variety of topics and objectives.
·         Easy to make and use

Using counters is easy
Just cut out the set you want your students to use and put them in a hat, bowl, or other container.  I’ve found a plastic margarine container with a lid works well.  That way I can also use it to store the counters and game pieces when I’m not using them.   Instead of rolling a die, one player shakes up the container and holds it so the current player cannot see inside.   Then the current player picks a counter from the container and moves that many spaces.

To get a FREE copy of the counters above just go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store or my Teacher Lingo Store.  Why not get rid of the dice and squeeze in a little more education with counters?  When I play games with my students I always use counters and my students love them.  

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