Friday, August 28, 2009

Games and Play in the Classroom

Once again, it's Friday and time for some fun... and games!

Here in Chicago, a new school year has begun and I have to mention a topic I've heard a lot of excitement about this year: Games and Play in the Classroom. This May, I wrote about Gaming at the Library and how popular it has become. Along with that post, I recommended some great fun and inspiring books about games.

Many of you already know that ALA in 2008 had a new Gaming Pavilion at the National Convention. This year I was lucky enough to see it first-hand. The feedback from librarians and educators was fantastic and there were several wonderful stories how successful games worked in the classroom.

Here are several new nonfiction books I found for kids that incorporate games and play in the classroom:

Math Games Played with Cards and Dice, Grades 4-6
by Charles Lund, author
IPMG Publishing; 2nd edition August 2009

Also, Math Games Played with Cards and Dice, Grades 2-3

For Kids Series
Everyone of these books in this series is filled with fun, exciting, unique activities to enrich and strengthen the lessons to be learned. Here are a few new offerings:
Heading West: Life with the Pioneers, 21 Activities
by Pat McCarthy (author)
Chicago Review Press August 2009

A Kid's Guide to Latino History: More than 50 Activities
by Valerie Petrillo
Chicago Review Press August 2009

Jumpstart! Science: Games and activities for ages 5-11
by Pie Corbett and Rosemary Feasey (Authors)
Taylor and Francis April 2009

Other Game and Play resources for educators:

Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) Educator Conference:
A State of Illinois accredited program (CPDU credit awarded) to assist educators on the fine art of incorporating play in the classroom. Saturday November 21, 2009 1:00. Check the ChiTAG web site for the current info.
If my schedule allows, I may help teach some of the seminars. Currently, I'm working with a few major companies on some classroom play ideas and some great free take-away items.

Games for Educators has a new, updated design and new location at
This site is very popular and has a huge following. Check it out for all sorts of information about games in the classroom. The database for finding games on particular subjects and categories is fantastic!


Mary Couzin said...

Hi Anna,

Love you articles!

Yes, games are are getting more and more use in libraries and in schools. We need the face-to-face interaction they can provide as well as making learning fun. Many toy and game companies are writing curriculum for their products. In NY, games are matched to State Standards. It is an exciting time in the toy/game industry!

Our Educator Conference at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair,, is as much fun as it is beneficial to educators.

As part of our program to get games into the classroom, educators are our guests at the Fair.

From Cognitive Fitness, published in the Harvard Business Review:
“Play engages the prefrontal cortex, feeding our highest cognitive functions…Play improves our ability to reason and to understand the world…Play can be a powerful tool for allowing people to develop creative capacity and cognitive health.”

Mary Couzin
Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Lori Calabrese said...

What a great selection of books. Interesting article, Anna! What better way to encourage children to read--by making it fun! Imagine that! :)

All the best,

Mary Couzin said...

One more thing, there is a contest that just started this morning for a great classroom game, Blurt produced by Educational Insights and invented by Tim Walsh (one very cool guy, check out the other pages on his website as well as the contest). For details, go to:


Lynn said...

As a lifetime lover of games and puzzles, I think this is just the coolest idea. It got me daydreaming about specialty middle schools that had entire curricula based on games. Those kids would knock standardized tests out of the ballpark.

Anna M. Lewis said...

Mary, Great info! Wow, games matched to state standards... fantastic!

Lori, thanks for the kind words.

Infant Bibliophile, I think you're absolutely right. Last year, I played a Geography game with my 17YO daughter and she learned A LOT!