I am pretty certain that you have at least one old board game sitting in the back of a cupboard somewhere gathering dust. Pull it out, give it a make over and use it to revise important concepts. Alternatively, you might pick up old games from op shops or buy and swap sights.
The following lists some games I have used over the last few years and how I have modified them. I am hoping this will inspire all teachers from primary to high school and across the curriculum. It can work for any subject and any age group. Do not be limited by my suggestions, use them to springboard into your own creative ways of revising.
Trivial Pursuit - We all know how this works and I am pretty certain you know what I have done with this game. Develop new categories based on different areas of the curriculum. Come up with questions for each of these different categories and you are ready to go. I went a step further and painted the squares on an old board to reflect my new categories. This is one of the best ways to revise a heap of factual based content in a quick an easy way. If students get the answer wrong stop and discuss why. Use it as a learning opportunity to revise the content.
Pictionary - This has become my favourite revision game. It is the perfect formative assessment tool. Gaps in the students knowledge and understanding become quickly evident. I have used this in two separate courses before, one based on factual knowledge and one based on concepts. It works beautifully to revise concepts. So, how do you play? Grab an old board (or make your own) and come up with 4 new categories using key terms / phrases from your studies. This week, to revise Drama, my categories included Characters and Practitioners; Themes and Issues; Techniques and Conventions; and I kept the dreaded Difficult category. For the All Play squares students were able to pick which category they wished to draw from. This game requires the drawer to think critically about the word or phrase and interpret it creatively showing their understanding of the concept. Meanwhile, the ‘guesser’ has to quickly process the information and sort through their filing cabinet of knowledge to interpret the picture. If one or both players do not understand the word or phrase fully they will not be able to guess it, in which case you can stop and discuss the term in more detail. Beware though, students become highly competitive in this game!
Hungry Hungry Hippos - This was a new addition to my list of games this year and what fun we had! This is not for the light hearted and not for every teacher. I purchased some small cheap skateboards from K-Mart and brought in some washing baskets from home. I also purchased a container of ping pong balls and on each ball I used sticky-tape to attach quotes from one of the four texts we had studied this year. The students need to know these quotes in preparation for their exam at the end of the year. Each student was placed in a team and each team was allocated a different text. They needed to use the washing baskets and the skateboards to collect the ping pong balls as demonstrated in this video (Note: We didn't use rope. Students manipulated their hippo like a wheelbarrow.) When they had retrieved the ping pong balls they had to read all of them and work out which ones had quotes from their allocated texts. Ping pong balls with quotes for other texts were rolled back into the centre. Students had to keep collecting more ping pong balls using the skateboard method until they were certain they had all ten quotes relevant to their text. The first team to collect all the correct quotes were declared the winners. At the end of the game, the teams that did not get all their quotes needed to explain how they could use each of the remaining quotes in an essay. Again in this game students had to think quickly to discern which quotes belonged to which play. The conversation in the teams was rich as they were linking words in each quote to the content of the play…. and we were having a blast at the same time!!
I hope this list has inspired you to put the fun back into revision. Students are highly engaged in these games. The games challenge them to make rich connections with the content while at the same time simulating components of exam conditions such as time limits and pressure. I am keen to keep adding to my list of revision games so if you have any other great suggestions I would love to hear from you.