This week, we’ve come up with three games for the Primary school classroom that encourage listening and turn-taking. These are ideal traits for circle time, when taking part in a PSHE discussion or if pupils are debating topical issues. We all know how excited a class can get when talking about something that is really important to them, so these activities are ideal for setting the tone and ensuring they are in the right frame of mind for sensible discussion and debate.
- Ordering 30. A classroom classic, here’s our take on it: count the total number of children in your class that day. Ask the children to look down at the table (a bit like playing ‘heads down, thumbs up’). Then when you say ‘go’, the class must count up to the number 30 (or however many children there are in that day). However, they must do it individually and in numerical order. So one child (but nobody knows who) has to say ‘one’, then another child somewhere in the room has to say ‘two’, and so on. The class has to start again at the beginning if more than one person says a number at the same time – this will happen a lot at the start! It’s a great game for emphasising the importance of focus, memory and turn-taking. It should also generate some camaraderie for good measure.
- Count the seconds. A listening game that also teaches concentration, which any teacher would agree is vital in a class discussion when so many opinions are flying around. Take a clock or stopwatch and ask pupils to put up their hand when they think exactly one minute has passed. No looking at any other clocks in the room of course! The winner is the one who puts their hand up at exactly the 60-second mark. Like all great concentration activities, you could hear a pin drop during this game...
- The dictation challenge. Yes, dictation – you read that correctly. Not only is dictation a requirement of the National Curriculum (2014), but every class that this has been tried and tested on has loved it. Get a book the class are reading and choose one paragraph that is three to four sentences long. Ask the class to get ready to write every word that you say when you dictate the passage. Afterwards, invite volunteers to read the passage they wrote back to the class. The winner is the pupil who is word-perfect. Every time we’ve tried this (even with the more difficult classes), it gets the children really listening; not only to you when you read the passage, but also to their peers as they read it back. The fact it improves oratory skills and pupils’ confidence is an added benefit.
If you decide to give any of these a go, let us know how you get on!