During Play Times and PE Classes
New Games are a natural for playground games where the main activities are soccer (football) and other games requiring a fair amount of skill. New Games require little or no equipment. All that’s needed is a desire to play, because any child can do the games regardless of size, weight, gender, or ability. Even in games where there is competition, the emphasis is on having fun rather than winning. In the process of playing the games, skills such as running, throwing, and catching are developed. Playtime supervisors and/or older students can be taught the games and how to lead them for younger children.
For PE classes, although it is certainly possible to do whole periods using New Games, they can be used as warm up and cool down games. Unlike traditional games and sport where just a few individuals take part and shine, no one is left out. Since schools are losing PE specialists to budget cuts, classroom teachers are now getting responsibility to lead games. New Games offer a solution: it is easy to learn and lead the games. Soon kids have favorites that they’ll ask for again and again.
After-School Club Activities
New Games are a perfect after-school club activity. By the end of the school day, kids want to move. Here is an opportunity to do that while learning a number of important skills. Of course, you don’t need to tell them that, at least not at the start. Later, however, it might be interesting for them to ask what they’ve learned together by playing New Games. They may well be surprised. You can always throw in some ideas they might not have thought of.
Fun First-Day-of-School Activities and End-of-School-Year Activities
You can create fun first day of school activities by starting with an hour or so of New Games. What a better way to lead off than by beginning on a happy note. It creates a good atmosphere for what’s to follow. On the other side, it’s a great way to bring closure to the year by using the games as end-of-school-year activities. Rather than just having school come to a finish, New Games creates a memorable ending.
Teaching Using New Games in the Classroom
Since a key purpose of teaching is that students learn something they can apply to their lives, New Games presents a unique way of learning, whether it’s the subject matter of language, math, and science or social skills like cooperation and inclusion. Any subject can be taught in the form of a game, and students don’t forget because their self interest is highly activated. Behavioral science has made connections between motor skill development and learning ability, and these games are loaded with motor skills that many children never get the chance to practice.
Even when you are presenting the games as an energizer, a transition from one activity to another, or as a time filler, learning skills such as listening, concentration, and following directions are still valid learning goals too.
My experience in your New Games workshop gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate my definition of play and build my own self-esteem. In our discussion of leadership skills and in leading a new game, I realized how important it was for me to not only be a facilitator but a participant, too.
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