‘Tis the Season for Fun and Games!

Dec 12, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Now that we are in the holiday season and are rapidly approaching the mid-point in our school year, it’s a great time to throw a party—an IEW party, that is! Over in our co-op forums, there has been a lot of sharing of ideas about how to include fun and games in co-op classes. Have fun reading through these suggestions. Who knows? Maybe you will find a game or two that will work well in your home or class!


Members of the forum offered the following suggestions:

I have a group activity in my middle school class. Grouping the students into three or four students together, I list nine styles on the board starting with the #4 ing and ending with 3sss. I have students randomly choose from three colored notecards with a character, emotion, and setting on the backside. The challenge is to write a story in nine sentences with each sentence using the styles in order as listed. Moms are the scribes for this, but not with their own child’s group. Thus, the moms can experience other kids’ creativity. This year we had a llama who was irritated in a mall, a vet who was astonished in the ocean, etc.  I’ve done more than nine styles but found that in eighty minutes some groups couldn’t finish in time. Some sentences call for two styles, like the quality adjective and strong verb.


Here is another clever idea that really gets your students utilizing their vocabulary and sentence openers!

Another activity we do this time of year is to write an ABC paper after all opener styles are learned and they have done three narrative story sequence assignments. They must write a story in twenty-six sentences, and each sentence must begin with the next letter of the alphabet. I start by letting them read such a story and telling them the writing is extraordinary and to read it and raise their hand to whisper to me what is extraordinary about it when they discover it. After a while I give a clue that there are twenty-six sentences in the story. A second clue is to read the first word of the first sentence and first word of the last sentence. As more and more kids discover the story’s secret, I start hearing, “How did she do that!?”  They never think they can write one.  Analyzing how it was done (with openers), they then take out their notebooks and look at the alphabetized lists and see that they could even use a #2 prepositional opener for the U.  I have also copied for their notebooks,  “Banish Boring Words” from Scholastic (with permission for copying for classroom use), so they have lots more alphabetized lists to use. Another perfect resource to use for this game would be IEW’s thematic thesaurus, A Word Write Now. Finding that they are able to use so many openers successfully, they are so happy! This year I’ve told them the ABC story will be a holiday gift for a relative. I’ll correct them with time to return for them to do the “publisher’s copy” and make cardstock covers.  They are excited to see if Grandma will notice the ABC order of the sentences.


This is a fun idea that involves Unit 3, Retelling Narrative Stories:

I typically have a half party/half class on the last class day before the Christmas break. We discuss their journal assignments and Fix It! pages. Everyone brings a snack to share—kept outside the classroom—and we take a break to get the snacks and bring them back to the classroom. Then we do games or retell a story. They especially love the "Are You Contented" game from Bible Heroes. Sometimes I'll play Hangman. Also popular are retellings of fairy tales with a Christmas theme. "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Three Little Pigs" lend themselves easily to rewrites involving Santa, reindeer, and elves. Star Wars characters and settings are also popular. I let them have free reign of their imaginations in this class project. (I have outlines of the stories pre-printed. They change the characters and setting, but keep the theme.) I save their versions and publish them in my year-end publication.


Larger co-ops may find this idea submitted by a forum member intriguing:

In past years when I have had larger classes, I have always held twice-yearly auctions with the children using their tickets earned from writing to purchase items brought in by the parents. This has been a huge hit! We also always have food—pizza or ice cream. This year with a smaller class, I am not doing the tickets or auctions, but we will have pizza along with our lesson, and I hope to play a Jeopardy-style game with the elements of IEW along with their vocab words.


Another idea for an exuberant class is to play Dress-Up Beanbag Toss. You need space in order to play this game, but young students especially enjoy being able to stand and get out some squirmies. For this game, you need a soft beanbag or stuffed sock that has been tied off. Keep it safe! Write a noun on the board so all can see it and announce that you will be adding a quality adjective dress-up. For example, you may put up the word gift. The students then begin to toss the beanbag to each other and as they do, they call out a quality adjective. Tiny! Mysterious! Soft! When that word is exhausted, choose an action word like skiing and repeat the process with -ly words. Swiftly! Clumsily! Tiredly!

These are a few ideas to whet your whistle. We would love to have more ideas to share with everyone. Let us know in the comments if you have any other games ideas to share. Let’s make this end of the year a fun one!

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