In the past, I’ve shared how to introduce Simply STEAM Math and Grammar Games and ways to play them, including game boards, STEM to Win, pickup sticks, and Race to 20, but now it’s time to talk about the best times to play each Simply STEAM Game.
The great thing about my Math Games and Grammar Games is that you can use them in various ways so that students don’t get bored playing the same game repeatedly. Keep reading to learn easy ways to add them into your daily routine.
The Best Times for Playing Board Games
The traditional way to use these games is with a game board. This is how I first introduce Math and Grammar Games to my students. I love these game boards because they’re low prep and easy to use. You don’t even need a dice. All you need is the game board itself, game cards, and game pieces. To make it easily accessible, I like to fold up the game boards and place them into these photo organizer containers along with sets of game cards. Students can quickly grab a container and a partner and start playing.
Students can use game boards in several ways, but my students best like playing them during centers with a partner. You can also use them when working with a small group on mastering a skill or as a whole group when reviewing for an assessment or before end-of-year testing. These are also fun for Ketchup Mustard Pickles time at the end of the school day.
The Best Times for Playing STEM to Win
This game allows students to earn STEM materials based on their answers. These materials could be anything from brain flakes, hashtag pieces, or anything else from my STEAM box cart. Have STEM materials and these cards ready to go, and let your students start creating!
While STEM to Win is multi-use, too, there are a couple of times within the day that aren’t my favorite. The first place I don’t prefer to use STEM to Win is in centers.
I’ve tried it, and things get a little bit crazy. The kids have difficulty controlling themselves with the STEM pieces and go wild. So, while using it during centers, try it at your own risk. The other time that isn’t my favorite is during whole group, although it is fun. For whole group, I had my students in groups of four. Students had a deck of cards and worked on answering the questions. As they answered correctly, they earned their STEM materials. It’s still a little hectic just because all students play at once, but it is possible!
Times that I do love to use STEM to Win are during teacher-led small groups, during morning work, and during Ketchup Mustard Pickles time. Let me dig into each individually.
My favorite time is teacher-led small groups because it’s a structured time. I hold onto the task cards and ask students questions. If they answer correctly, I can monitor the process of students getting STEM materials and watch as they complete their building challenge with the materials they earned.
STEM to Win is also an excellent soft start to the day when used for morning work. Students can grab a kit and work independently. This also works well during Ketchup, Mustard, Pickles time and as an early finisher activity throughout the day.
The Best Times for Playing Pickup Sticks
Adding pickup sticks adds a little variety and competition to my Math and Grammar Games. All you need to add are game cards, pickup sticks, and a way to store them. I use little pencil trays to keep them organized so students can easily access them.
Once students have mastered playing game boards, I like to introduce pickup sticks. They are an exciting addition to centers with a partner, during small groups, morning work, and Ketchup Mustard Pickles. I especially love using pickup sticks during small groups because they keep students engaged. Students stare at the sticks, and their competitive side emerges as they become eager to pick them up. This activity is also helpful for students who may need more opportunities to use their fine motor muscles.
The Best Times for Playing Race to 20
Race to 20 is an individual activity for students to complete. Students complete this Race against a timer. Whether you create a second kit just for independent centers or want to set out extra game cards is up to you, but you’ll need game cards for this activity along with the Race to 20 game board. I like to laminate these game boards, so they last for the entirety of the school year and keep them in a dedicated paper tray for easy access. I usually print about ten of these, but you can also do a class set if you prefer.
As an independent center, students grab their materials and complete the Race against a timer. Students can also do this in small groups, but instead of racing a timer, they can race each other! This is a variation that students always get excited about. It’s also an easy soft start for morning work.
What About Homework?
What are the best times to play each Simply STEAM game? Does homework count?
Math and Grammar Games make great homework if you’re tired of sending home worksheets (and grading them). I keep them organized in these photo box organizers. Students check them out at the end of the day and take home the kit containing game cards, a game board, and pieces. They love playing with their families; it doesn’t feel like homework.
I once had a little girl struggling in math take home a kit. So I sent her home with a game that was a grade level below to practice. The next day, she came up to me, happy as could be, with a big grin and said, “Mrs. Barnett, you’re not going to believe this, but I beat my dad last night!”
This was my proof that sending these kits home was a much more engaging way to get my students to complete homework that didn’t force them to sit in front of a worksheet and hold a pencil – the last things they wanted to do after a long school day.
The Best Times to Play Each Simply STEAM Game
So, there you have it! These are the ways that we use STEM Math and Grammar Games in my classroom—looking for more ways to play? Check out these 20 FREE ways to use Simply STEAM Math and Grammar Games in your classroom.
Haven’t you tried any of my games yet? Get your game below!