Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom

Close up portrait of hard laughing young man. Isolated on white background, mask included
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Every day I watch my kids play all day long. And they never seem to grow tired of it either. So surely there’s something to their favourite past time other than having fun. When you think about it, for children, the act of playing is a way of learning. Except, it’s not just about using brain power but also about using all of their senses alongside their schema to help them solve whatever mystery or problem comes their way. I view it as a holistic approach to learning. So how is it that we lose that as we enter into adulthood?

During school, we focus more on memorization and regurgitation rather than on creative solutions to certain real world problems. It’s as if the minute we enter school our creative side begins to dwindle.

Learning through games

I think it’s time to bring games back to our classrooms! In many ways, an adult learning a new language is comparable to a child learning a new subject in life. If you ever get a chance to observe a kindergarten class, pay attention to how these kids are taught – they learn through play by using their senses. When your environment is fun, you’re bound to learn better and more efficiently.  So why not apply the same principle to adult ESL learners?

For one of my classes, on the last day of my class, I decided to play an impromptu Pictionary game with my students as a way to review everything they’d learned up until that night. I wrote down many of the words and terms we’d used throughout the course and had each student get up in front of the class and draw one of the words. The laughs that echoed throughout the hallway were priceless. Everyone had such a great time and they were all actually engaged and wanted to guess the correct word first. It’s like we were all a bunch of kids trying to win.

Let’s play!

So this had me thinking – if only I’d incorporated this game idea at the end of every class. How fun would that have been? It not only is a way to unwind from the stresses of learning a new language, but what a great way to review what they had learned that night or maybe even that week. It would also allow them to get out of their seats and use their sense of touch and, most importantly, bring out their inner child. Don’t we all need to bring our inner child back once in while? Play games with your students and see what a difference it could make in the way they learn.

Who uses games in their classrooms as an extension to their lessons? What games other than Pictionary can you think of that would work in an adult ESL classroom? I’d love to know what you do to have fun with your learners in your class, and if it has been helping them learn more efficiently.

Hi! I’m Laila and I’m a mom to two little ones who keep me very busy throughout the day (and night)! I earned a double major in Philosophy and Psychology from Western University, which basically means I can talk a lot and analyze anything! I earned my TESL accreditation and have taught in both school and workplace settings; but I especially enjoy teaching at different work places. I have a passion for cooking, baking vegan desserts, and DIY projects. I enjoy reading and learning about new things, but mostly, I’m excited to be sharing my thoughts and any information I may learn about with all of you. Happy reading!


2 thoughts on “Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom”

  1. I have often used games at the end of my classes and I think most students enjoy that. My favorite is “snowman” (as a vocabulary refresher). I draw a snowman and I pick a word and write lines for students to guess the letters. Every time they guess a wrong letter, a piece of the snowman gets erased. Often students are successful (especially if you fully decorate your snowman by using buttons, hat, scarf etc.), but there is also great excitement when the word or words are challenging and we get closer to erasing the whole snowman.

    1. I absolutely love that, Connie! I’ve never heard of that game – did you come up with it? Brilliant!
      Playing games certainly benefits all of us in more ways than one. Thanks for sharing what you do with your students 🙂

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