My second grade class just finished book three of Up and Away yesterday. It’s the last book of the series they’ll do, since they’ll be third graders and switching to the normal buxiban classes soon. In my normal classes, we really don’t play games much. With 30 students per class, they just aren’t usually a very effective use of time. For the second graders though, we play quite a few games. I’m still pretty picky about which games to play though, since anything that requires kids to run to the whiteboard entails a significant amount of class time in which they aren’t listening or speaking. Most games we play are either variations on Tic-Tac-Toe, Concentration, Knife-Gun-Medic-Bomb, or Castles&Catapults.

Yesterday was different though. They’d just finished their tests and their brains were fried. There wasn’t really any push to teach them anything new; I just needed a consolidation activity. So, we played a modified version of Wordsters. Obviously, since they’ve only been studying English for four months, the real wordsters would be way too hard for them. This is how we played:

  1. I wrote everybody’s names across the top of the whiteboard before starting.
  2. I explained the rules, and wrote two big letters on the whiteboard.
  3. I said, “Go!” and gave them 2 minutes to write as many words as they could that included the two letters on the board, and in the same order
  4. At the end of the two minutes, I collected their papers and quickly wrote everyone’s words on the board
  5. If only one student writes any given word, it’s worth three points; if two students write the same word, they get one point each; if three or more students write the same word, they get nothing.
  6. Tally up the points, erase the two letters at the middle of the board, and play again!

Here’s an example. The letters were “ds” during the first game. Kevin wrote “dogs”, “desks”, “doors”, “words”, “directions”. All were all okay, except that he didn’t know what “directions” meant. I crossed that one out. Grace wrote “dogs”, “dads”, “sad”, and “Davys”. “Sad” didn’t count, since the “s” and the “d” are out of order, and “Davys” didn’t count because it’s a (plural!) name. If Amy wrote “beds”, “dogs”, “desks”, “heads”, “hands”, “candys” and “days”. All of her words were good, except for “candys”, since it was spelled incorrectly. After the first round their scores were as follows:

Kevin: 7 points- dogs, desks, doors, words, directions
Grace: 3 points- dogs, dads, sad, Davys
Amy: 13 points- beds, dogs, desks, heads, hands, candys, days

There are 10 kids in the second grade class, so it was pretty exciting for them as I crossed out their words while reading off duplicates. We played again with “ay”, “hr”, and then “er” for the finale. I’ve actually never seen the class rowdier. This isn’t really a great game to use that often, since it doesn’t do much beyond getting their brains churning and trying to remember words they’ve learned. I still like to use it once every few months on test days, though.