It doesn’t really matter whether we teach seven-year olds or seventeen-year olds, there’s nothing a class likes as much as a game or a quiz.
Clever teachers utilise this love of ‘not working’ to create skilful and effective revision sessions. Quizzes and games are also a great bonding exercise for students, and provide ways to develop confidence. And whisper it in case the OFSTED fun squashers are about, but they provide a bit of fun on a Friday afternoon too, or for the last fifteen minutes of an afternoon double period.
There is a bit of pedagogy behind them; we know that if pupils think a lesson will be fun and interesting, they will work that bit harder and with more energy for the rest of the week. The list of games and quizzes below can mostly be adapted to any age group; that is down to our skill as teachers to pitch the quiz or game at the level of the class. They are all activities that can take place in a normal classroom.
A super simple game. The person ‘on’ comes to the front or a corner and faces the wall so they cannot see the class. Somebody from the class is chosen and says ‘99’ in a disguised voice. The person ‘on’ looks at the class and has a guess. If they guess correctly, they get another go. If not, the successful ‘99er’ goes on. The game can be made tougher by getting two people to speak simultaneously, or by allowing the speaker to move to a new position before saying ‘99’. They are given time to get back to their seat before the person ‘on’ looks. This works well with MFL, as the number can be changed and spoken in French or Spanish; or in an English lesson, the number might be replaced could be a quote from a poem studied.
This can be a bit wild, especially if there is a classroom below you. One person is the detective, one is the murderer. The rest of the class are potential victims. The detective waits outside while the murderer is selected and identified to the remainder of the group. They stand in a circle, winding their way around the desks. The detective comes in and stands in the middle. The murderer ‘kills’ the others by winking at them. They then count to six in their head, and ‘die’. An interesting variation is to give a manner of death such as ‘Shakespearean’, or ‘in slow motion’. ‘Silently’ is also a good option!
Who Am I?
This is a good game for developing questioning skills, although with a large class there is not enough all-round involvement. The person ‘on’ chooses to be someone famous. Everybody has a question which must evoke a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. When the person whose turn it is knows who the subject is pretending to be, they guess.
Would I Lie To You?
A rip off of the very funny TV programme. Some preparation work is needed. A few lessons before you intend to play, hand out some paper which the class names. On the paper they write two or three events that have happened to them, or someone they know, that are neither personal nor sensitive, but that nobody else knows about. Things like, ‘I’m thirteen but I still have to sit on the naughty step.’ Or, ‘I once ate a dog snack.’ Then, when it is time to play, four or five contestants are chosen. They are all said to have done what is written on one piece of paper. The one who actually did have this experience must tell the truth, the other contestants must lie convincingly. Four or five people from the crowd set questions, which are given to each of the contestants. When the round seems to be drying up, a vote is taken as to who is telling the truth.
This excellent quiz has four rounds which can easily be adapted with a little work and provide excellent revision and problem-solving skills. It takes about 40 minutes to prepare an hour’s quiz using PowerPoint and a whiteboard.
- Missing vowels – words appear on a theme with the vowels missing. So, with the theme ‘Easter’ we might have ‘ggs’ (eggs) and shwd nsdy (Ash Wednesday). Make about eight rounds, with six examples in each, using animations on power point. The class are in teams, and first hand up with a correct answer gets the point. If the answer is wrong, the team are frozen out the next example.
- Make four or five examples with decreasing points as each clue appears. An example is given below. Teams answer in order, and if the answer is wrong, the next clue is shown to the following team. When the answer is correct, the team scores that number of points. A short example could be: 10pts: A Manager; 8pts: He played football for a lowly ranked club; 6 pts: He replaced Bruce Rioch as manager of his club; 4pts: He used to manage in Japan; 3pts: His team became known as the Invincibles for a while; 2pts: He is the longest serving manager in the Premier League; 1pt: He is manager of Arsenal. The answer, of course, is the mighty Arsene Wenger.
- What is eighth? This is a little like the round above, and works in the same way, but the answer must be the one that would appear as the eighth answer on the list. An example: 10pts: London; 8 pts: Birmingham; 6pts: Leeds; 4pts: Glasgow; 3pts: Sheffield; 2pts: Bradford; 1pt: Edinburgh. The answer being sought is Liverpool, which is the eighth biggest city by population in the UK.
- The wall. This is a brilliant revision round. Sixteen words or phrases are placed randomly in a grid. They divide into four lots of four, with a connecting clue for each group of four. The class must work on paper, in teams, to solve the ‘wall’ of clues.
The Wall is available to play on the Only Connect Website. Many examples are very difficult, and the online game only works with a small group, but if circumstances are right, it makes for a great activity for problem solving and discussion.
Four Seven Ten
This is a home-made quiz, invented (I think) by me, and I hold copywrite on it. Please feel free to use and adapt it, but if you make a fortune selling it to the BBC or suchlike, I will be after you! And remember, I know where everyone of you lives. The quiz requires quick thinking and a good general knowledge from the teacher, or it can be adapted as a revision quiz, which is easier to operate. In this situation, questions will be on our academic subject.
- The class is divided into teams of four to six
- A grid is drawn on the board.
- The teacher, or the teams, choose either different subjects, or different aspects of their subject for revision.
- The topics (e.g.: Macbeth, Spelling, Of Mice and Men, Punctuation etc) are written on the grid, with the numbers 4, 7 and 10 under each.
- The teams choose a category and a score; a four-point question is easy – 90% correctly answered; 7 points gets around 60% right, 10 around 20% right. Obviously, the difficulty of the questions will depend on the age and ability of the class.
- Joker – each team has one or two jokers. They play these before the question is asked. For example, they might say: ‘Macbeth, seven, joker’; that would be a middling question on Macbeth. If the answer is correct, the team get double points. That is fourteen.
- If the answer is wrong, the question goes as a bonus, worth one mark less, to the next team along. So, imagine the question was: ‘Which character says: “Turn, Hellhound, Turn”?’ The team who chose the question, Team A, say ‘Macbeth’; the next team, B, say ‘Duncan’ – if right they would get six marks. But they are wrong. The next team along, Team C say ‘Macduff’ and so score five points. Jokers do not count in this bonus element.
- Once the question is answered, the following question choice goes to the next team along. So as the ‘Macduff’ question was chosen by Team A, the next question is for Team B, even though they had a chance at the bonus.
Experience says that classes really love this quiz.
There are great quizzes on TV from which we can take ideas and we can make up our own very easily, perhaps adapting ideas to suit our needs. A good general knowledge from the teacher allows for a greater range of questions, but equally, quizzes can be prepared in advance.
The ones that work best, both educationally and in terms of fun, are those which require discussion from small teams (too large, and some students will opt out.) As far as possible, avoid first hand up situations – the games work well when the question is set for a particular team, but the rest of the class knows that the question might eventually make its way to them, so they stay involved, listening, discussing and planning their own answers.
Even OFSTED would approve of that.