Are you looking for a way to solidify your first grade students’ understanding of math concepts and give them extra practice without putting boring worksheets in front of them? Are you trying to integrate purposeful play in your first grade classroom? Do you want to see your sweet students smiling and interacting with their peers in a positive way as they learn? If so, math games are the way to go!
Here are 4 Reasons to Use Math Games in Your First Grade Classroom.
#1 – Makes Math Practice FUN
True story… When my daughter was 6 years old, she brought home mounds of math worksheets each week. This was a little girl who LOVED math. However, in first grade, her love for math diminished. Instead of math being about inquiry, collaboration, and problem solving; it was all about completing worksheet after worksheet after worksheet. And instead of math time being a fun and engaging, it became a place to complete worksheets and avoid getting any problems wrong. (I mean absolutely no disrespect to her teacher, her heart was truly in the right place.)
Yes! We want our students to practice math concepts. A lot! There is no denying that practice makes them better at math. But we also want learning to be fun. And guess what? When we are having fun, we are more engaged. When we are more engaged, we learn better as well.
#2 – First Graders are Made to Play
In first grade virtually everything is a toy: clothing, pencils, chairs, paper, scissors, leftovers from lunch, a fly in the room…EVERYTHING!
In fact, just this week, I had a little sweetie that though it would be oh so fun to tie his shoe laces together during story time at the end of the day. Now imagine this sweet little guy taking the teeny tiniest steps ever to his cubby to get his backpack as he didn’t want me to know what he had done. Not gonna lie, it was so stinkin’ cute.
If shoelaces can become toys…let’s cash in our our students’ excitement toward play with math games.
If you have been reading about the importance of play in first grade, you are well aware of what the research says. But even without research, they’re SIX…play is in their bones! Children learn through play. So please, for the love of all that is good, let go of any guilt you may have and let your firsties play! Get math games in their little hands and let the learning begin!
#3 – Understanding of Math Concepts is Deepened
Ultimately, when first graders are given regular opportunities to play math games, they learn math at a deeper level.
As students play mathematical games they begin to develop more efficient strategies to solve problems, their computational fluency increases, they begin to discover new patterns, they further explore number combinations and computation strategies. It’s quite wonderful to observe as our little firsties make mathematical connections and discoveries.
For a first grader, this is wonderful way to deepen their understanding of mathematics.
#4 – Improves Student’s Social Skills
Once upon a time I had a student who would throw the most gigantic tantrum when he lost a game. (I know…I know…I just convinced you not to use games in your classroom.)
But the thing is, whether we like it or not, we are super human teachers who not only teach curriculum, but also little humans how to be the best possible versions of themselves. This job is not for the weak. It’s no small task, for sure. But…because we are awesome-sauce world changers, we take these tough challenges head on.
Needless to say, this little fella needed to learn how play well with others, as well as how to lose. There are lots of losses in the game of life. Instead of shielding our students from them, let’s teach them. Teach them both how to win gracefully as well as how to lose gracefully. How to encourage each other and cheer each other on. How to have fun together.
Young children need lots of practice interacting with others. Through game playing students learn to listen to others and to share and to take turns. They learn that it’s not all about winning…all the time (although it is fun to win).
So…let go of any and all reservations you have about implementing math game time in your first grade classroom...just DO IT! You will not regret it!
So…Are you ready to give math games a try? Are you looking for a resource you can implement as soon as today?
GREAT NEWS! If you’re wishing for a YEAR’S WORTH of NO PREP (well…other than printing) MATH CENTER GAMES… WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
Just print and you are ready to implement. Absolutely nothing to cut out…which means no more searching for missing pieces or… finding loose pieces and trying to figure out which game they go to. #ThingsThatMakeTeachersCrazy
Can I get an AMEN?