Using games in my faith formation class brings an element of fun that results in both engagement and positive responses from the children. At the beginning of almost every session, one of the children will ask, “Are we going to play a game today?” My answer is often “Yes.” Any catechist can take a simple list of questions or vocabulary words and use these for classroom review games with little or no preparation.
I like to divide the class into two or more teams for a game, depending on the size of the group. Having teams builds a sense of camaraderie, since children are invested in having their team score points and win, and they tend to pay more attention to the questions. I make sure that children of varying abilities are on both teams. I either assign team names—for example, “St. Francis’ Friends” versus “St. Therese’s Flowers” (two saints we have studied)—or I let the teams choose their own names. Each team forms a line. I ask a review question of one team, and the child at the front of the line has a chance to answer the question and score a point. If the child doesn’t answer the question correctly, the other team can “steal” the point by answering it. They have ten seconds to huddle as a team, and then the child at the front of line announces the team’s answer. (Having only one child speak for the team prevents an avalanche of answers.) If the answer is correct, the team gets the point, and they get to take their turn and answer the next question. After each child has a chance at an individual question, he or she goes to the back of the line. I match the difficulty of each question to each child’s ability. In addition to engagement and having a solid review session, I don’t want any child to feel discouraged.
The questions come from a list of the faith words and their definitions in our textbook. Not only are we playing a fun game, we are also reviewing the main concepts from our book. Because the opposing team can steal a point, the entire team is engaged, because they can all help in coming up with the correct answer.
There are several options I have to keep score. The most basic is just keeping score with tally marks on the board. A simple upgrade is to give the game a sports-like feel. One option is to draw a football field on the board, with end zones and yard lines labeled in 10-yard increments. Each team starts on the 20-yard line, and a right answer moves the team 10 yards and a wrong answer loses 10 yards. (Steals can be turnovers and the other team gets the “ball.”) When the team reaches the end zone, they score a touchdown. Another option is to draw a baseball diamond on the board, and the team advances the “runner” one base toward a home plate for each correct answer. (Steals can be like “outs,” and after three outs, the other team is “up to bat.”) When the runner reaches home plate, the child scores a run. Another variation is to bring in a small basket and a ball (or ball of yarn). For each correct answer, the child can take two shots at the basket. Making a basket doesn’t score points; it just adds more fun to the game.
These are just a few of the simple ways I make review sessions into games. Are there any review games that you use with your group?
Image from Pixabay.