Game On!

classic battleship

Mr. Star Wars is going to a friend’s birthday party this weekend, and we shopped for a present today. I am starting to believe that shopping for a boy around age 9 or 10 is difficult. We have been giving a lot of small Lego sets for birthday presents, which are usually around $10 at Target, but I think it is possible we are aging out of Lego gifts (insert RoomMom’s heart breaking here). Mr. Star Wars chose the classic Battleship game as the birthday gift for this party.

Battleship is a great game and gift. In fact, board games in general might be the answer to my gift dilemma for this age group. As a teacher, I completely approve of this choice. When kids play games, they reinforce great critical thinking and planning skills needed in the classroom. Socially, they learn to take turns, cooperate, and communicate with their opponents. Another great feature is the fact that a variety of ages can play together. Look for sales at Target or WalMart and pick up a few of these games to have on hand as a gift for your next birthday invitation.

hedbanz

  • Battleship: Players must understand coordinates and a grid. They also use the process of elimination to zero in on targets.
  • Hedbanz: Players activate background knowledge and categorize to ask questions that will narrow down options to arrive at an answer. It encourages targeted questioning and the ability to move from general to specific rather than haphazard guessing.
  • Apples to Apples: Participants take an adjective and consider scenarios where the word would be used to create a logical pairing from cards in the players’ hands. It requires vocabulary skills and understanding of context.
  • Trouble: Weigh pros and cons of moving the game piece out of the home base or advancing a piece that is already on the board. There is the opportunity to gauge risk and reward. We also really like the popping noise the plastic bubble makes when you press it to roll dice.
  • Boggle: This game tests a child’s bank of sight words as well as uses knowledge of all of the phonics rules and patterns. If a player is smart, he will locate a base word, then start to add rhyming words or endings (like IN to PIN to SPIN to SPINS) to generate bigger lists.
  • Connect 4: This game works well to help kids begin to anticipate different results of one move (cause and effect). A child can predict what will happen two or three moves out and adjust her choice. There is also a little bit of pattern sorting in this game too.
  • Monopoly: Budgeting, counting money, and making change!
  • Kanoodle: This pocket game contains colorful connected beads that are stacked into shapes. Players use lots of spatial thinking and logic to solve the puzzles.

kanoodle

Do you like to give games for birthday gifts? If so, what are good game choices?

One other tip– if you have games that your children do not play anymore, think about donating them to a classroom. I like to keep games in the back of my room for students who are early finishers or for a rainy day when we have indoor recess.

boggle

 

 

4th of July Festivities

So, here is the download from our 4th of July neighborhood party. We have a fab neighbor who has a degree in recreational something and is a professional when it comes to organizing group events. She agreed to again coordinate a 4th of July family bash for our street. We followed the same basic format as last year and here are a few highlights. In case you are new to TheRoomMom’s world, you can read about last year here.

bike parade

The Parade, The Games, and the Prizes

  • Each family decorates bikes, scooters, wagons… This is the kick off to the party. Any participants ride up and down the street a few times to the cheers and shouts of the bystanders.
  • Following the parade, we are teamed up and compete in a sack race, dizzy bat race, egg carry, and other classic relay races.
  • Prizes for the winners awarded after dinner. I made this year’s “medals” with Mardi Gras beads, jewelry clips, and silver posterboard with a printed message glued to the top. They are not as nice as the Dollar Store trophies from last year, but I was under a time crunch.
  • After the races ended, a few adults wrote in silly award names like “Best Competitor”, “Most Confident Egg Carrier”, or “Best Spinner”.

DIY party awards

The Food and Drinks

  • There was lots of grilled meat and tasty (but bad for you) party food. One person did contribute a fresh fruit salad, but we mostly ate things with melted cheese in them.

pizza dip

  • I baked a pizza dip, which is a party dip that works for any occasion, any age, and any time of year. Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.

summer cocktail

  • I also concocted a blue drink for the adults. Be careful because it does look like Gatorade. I wanted to make the cherry margaritas for the crowd, but it takes time to pit all of those cherries, so I tinkered with the recipe for this blue drink and created the Dizzy Eagle (name is not finalized– please send suggestions if you have them). Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.

cake walk

The Cake Walk

  • This is everyone’s favorite event. Each family donates a sweet treat or two. Kids stand on a numbered square. An adult plays music. When the music stops, the child stops on a square. Our organizer draws a number. The child standing on the matching number gets to pick a treat from the table.
  • You can let adults play too, but we have it worked out so all kids win one item.

oreo truffle finished

  • This year I boxed Oreo Truffles. I had trouble melting my white chocolate, so they did not look as professional as I would like. The taste, however, was not compromised. Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.

paper plate masks

The Craft

  • Jackie knows how to cut a large white paper plate into 3 masks from a former job as a camp director. She cut an oval (football shape) from the center of the paper plate. The resulting 3 pieces are the 3 mask shapes. Then, two eyes are cut in the center of each shape. You can also do the football shape in the top half of the plate and create 2 masks from one paper plate.

DIY paper plate masks ribbons

  • I took over after Jackie cut the masks. I found red bamboo skewer sticks in the 4th of July section at Hobby Lobby. Using a piece each of red, white, and blue curly ribbon, I tied them together around the end of a stick in a knot. I hot glued the stick at the point where the ribbon knot is to the back edge of each mask. Once the glue cooled, I curled the ribbon.

paper plate mask finished

  • We had a table at the party with Elmer’s glue, glitter, sparkly stars, and markers. Kids could walk up and decorate a mask.
  • We set a big disposable roasting pan on the table with the glitter jars inside. Kids set the mask in the pan to glitter. It made clean up very easy.
  • FYI– this would be a great craft for Halloween parties and school celebrations.

How do you celebrate the 4th of July? Jackie was exhausted, and this may have been the last time she will be organizing a neighborhood event of this scale. Do you have any suggestions I can bring to her for consideration?

Word Trains

Bifocals Word Train bigger

Some of my favorite teaching ideas happen on the fly. My students completed the final lesson in our vocabulary book this week. The vocabulary book is based on Latin roots, common prefixes, and suffixes. Now that it is the end of the year and our “root bank” is full, students have been noticing words all over the place that are combinations of the roots and prefixes we studied all year (Yeah!– something stuck).

So, here is what happened. We studied the root “loc” this week, which is in the word “locomotion”. “Loc” means to move from place to place. A student recalled that we already knew the root “mot” meaning to move or to do. And then the game began.

Have you ever played 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon with movie actors? The Word Train game is the nerdy teacher variation of that game.

  1. You begin with a word that contains 2 known parts like DISORGANIZED (dis and organ).
  2. Connect it with another 2+ part word that shares a root, prefix, or suffix from the original word like ORGANIST (organ and ist).
  3. Add a third word that shares the newly added word part like ACTIVIST (ist and act).
  4. Keep going from there by adding REACT then RECAPTURE then CO-CAPTAIN then COOPERATE then OPERATOR.
  5. To really play like the Kevin Bacon game and test a student’s word knowledge, give them the first word and the last word in the word train and ask them to create the connection. For example, try to get from reheat to illiterate.
Capture Word Train

Click on the picture to view the sample

This was a great vocabulary review, and the students got supercompetitive (super is a prefix from our list, by the way). We have standardized testing coming up, and I am trying to practice reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. This activity forced the students to look at word parts and give definitions based on the parts. It is much more strategic than memorizing definitions.

How many words can you connect? My record is 9. I am sure I could go further if I pulled any word root, not just the ones from my 4th Grade Common Prefix, Root, and Suffix List. Can you beat me? My students did. To download the complete lesson plans for free, click here.

A Word Train

Click on the picture to view the sample

I apologize for the tiny pictures. I kept resizing, and I could not get them to appear larger in the post. If any web experts have advice, please share.