First Grade Classroom Games

For the most part, first graders dislike sitting still for long periods of time. This means that their attention can easily waver in the classroom if you don't get them up and moving around occasionally. Games work well for keeping first graders interested in their lessons and helping them learn. Not only do they get to get up from their desks or play with small beads or toys, they have something definite and structured to focus on. When small children understand what they are supposed to do, they learn more successfully. The introduction of games into the classroom also makes lessons feel less like work, which makes children eager to participate.

  1. Math Movement

    • This game involves your students in math and gives them a visual of how and why math works the way it does. First, help your students make number signs. Each student should have a sign with the numeral one and one large colored dot on it. Punch holes in the top of each sign and tie yarn to them so the students can wear the signs around their necks. Use tape to make two circles on the floor. Then, use the children themselves to create math problems. For example, ask the children to act out seven plus one. Seven children should gather in one circle and one child should stand in the other. Have the single child move from his circle to the group of seven children and have the students outside the circles count all of the children in the circle to get the answer. For subtraction of seven minus one, all seven children should gather in one circle. Have one child move to the second circle. Instruct the students outside the circles to count the children in the first circle to get the answer.

    Vocabulary Posters

    • This game takes a little preparation, but is a fun way to help your students visualize their vocabulary words. Assign each child a different vocabulary word, instructing them to keep their words secret. Give them paper and crayons and have them draw a picture to go along with their word. Let them work on this for about 10 minutes while you write all of the vocabulary words on the board, spaced far apart. Gather up all of the pictures, mix them up thoroughly and pass them back out again, making sure each child gets a different picture than the one they created. Then, have your students try to match their picture with the correct vocabulary word. Put a star next to each correct match and take down the incorrect matches so the class can figure them out together. Afterward, use the pictures to make a story using the vocabulary words correctly.

    Speed Spelling

    • This game helps your students practice their spelling words in a fun way. Split your class into two teams. Have one student from each team come to the board and give them a spelling word. The student who writes the word the fastest and correctly gets a point. If both students get the word wrong, give them both one more chance to write it correctly; the same goes with a tie for speed, except you should give them a different word. Go through the list as many times as necessary to give each student a chance at the board. This game teaches your students how the words are supposed to look and gives them the repetition necessary to learn them effectively.

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  • Photo Credit smiling schoolgirl image by Kurhan from

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