The Best Review Game of All Time

Although there are many elaborate review games out there I only use one – I call it The Game. I did not invent it however I have modified it over the years to be something that works for many grade levels, many contents and many situations. Students always, always love it. The only downside is that it can get so loud your colleagues will wonder what the heck is going on in your room.

Equipment Needed:

  • a small whiteboard for each row in your classroom (like the kind commonly used in math classes)
  • dry erase markers
  • a roll of paper towels to use as cheap-o erasers

The Game:

Teams sit in the same rows (from front of the room to back of the room) and come up with a name for themselves. I give them 90 seconds to think of a name and if they fail to do so or if the name is inappropriate I give them a name (the “electric pink chipmunk eaters” or the “puking pigeons” etc.). Write each team name on the front board and keep a running tally of points under each name. The whiteboards, markers and paper towels are then passed to the very back of the room and held by the last person in each team’s row.

You ask a question and the teams race to write a legible answer on their whiteboards and then pass them to the front of the room. The students in the first row hold up their team’s answer. Anyone on the team can write the answer, not just the last person. So if the last person doesn’t know they just pass the whiteboard up to the teammate that remembers the answer. Two points for the first team with the correct answer at the front and one point for each correct answer that isn’t first to the front. After each questions students move up a desk so that students are constantly on the move both by having to pass the whiteboard and switch desks after each question. This is the beauty of The Game – forced engagement and physical activity.

A few tips: Have students practice with a couple of questions before you start keeping score. This allows them to get the swing of things in a low pressure context. Take off points for trash-talking classmates as well as arguing with you about who was first or legibility issues, etc.

Any other review games folks like to use?

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10 thoughts on “The Best Review Game of All Time

  1. Amy Li says:

    I like the Card Race. Each 4 person team has a set of cards with questions & answers on them. The first START HERE card has just a question that students must answer. For example: If 3x = 21, what is x? They then need to hunt for the card that says x = 7 at the top. On the bottom of the x = 7 card, there is another question such as: What is the subject of the sentence “We ran to the house.” They then need to find the card that says “We” at the top. They continue until they’ve arranged all of the cards in order. The last card just says “FINAL ANSWER” and the students have to write in the answer to the final question. It’s great because as a teacher, you don’t have to be the emcee/referee and it frees you up to actually help kids that need help or get stuck. I also like to make the game with a lot of questions so that it’s impossible for one or two people to carry the team. The way to win is for everyone to pick a card and start building their chain of question/answer cards and linking them up.

  2. Sharon Ascott says:

    I like the sound of “The Game”, but what suggestion would you have for the top students? I could picture everyone in a row passing to the same ‘top student’ for each question and then no one ‘arguing’ their response. I could also see a lower performing student continually passing the board and not participating. Did you ever run into these problems?

    • The key to total participation is carefully chosen groups. I’m a big fan of homogenous grouping by performance. This way there is, ideally, no one smart kid because the “smart kids” are all in one group. Sure, they often win but the point of a review game is to review material not necessarily give everyone a fair chance at winning :)

  3. Chrissy says:

    I love this idea! Another thing I like to do in review games is throw in some that have nothing to do with the material – use trivia from music or fashion or whatever appeals to your students. It can break tension and some kids who don’t have the confidence to answer the review questions will respond to these and get engaged.

  4. […] classmates can be tremendously motivating. In my classroom I use one very simple game (check it out here) that frequently brings my classes to a screaming, chaotic – but invested! – all out […]

  5. Elizabeth Flores says:

    I really like the idea of the game. One question though. I have a student who is a recent immigrant. This is his 2nd year in U.S. schools. He is Spanish dominant, understands very little English, and is embarrassed about speaking in class. How can I get him to buy into the game?

    • Thanks for reading Elizabeth! The great thing about the game is that students write (not speak) and work collaboratively. I have had great success with this game and LEP students. Good luck!

      • Elizabeth Flores says:

        Thanks Abby. Also, if you could give me some ideas and how to get my 504 students to master more humanities concepts. My SPED students get that extra support but my 504 students tend to be a little weaker. I would greatly appreciate it!!

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