Survival Games: A Reflection From The Unemployed

Good morning, friends!

I made it to the end of my first week in my new classroom. Whew. I love my new little sweethearts! Of course it was a transition week/testing period so I was pretty sick of the sound of my own voice at the end of the week. I'm looking forward to a fresh week. Friday afternoon I realized there are a lot of really good survival tips and tricks that I have learned in my teaching career so far. Some of them work best with kindergarteners (let's face it: 5 and 6 year olds do respond to just about anything). This week I was reflecting on my frustration with getting a full-time teaching job. I used to wish I had walked right out of student teaching and into my dream job (sometimes I still do.) I am someone who truly believes that things happen when they are supposed to. I have spent years as a day-to-day substitute, a teaching assistant and a long-term substitute. Now I know why. It is through all of these experiences that I have become the teacher I am today, and I am still learning and growing and will forever. I can't imagine what type of teacher I would be had it not been for the amazing teachers I have worked with over the past few years. Teaching is truly a beg, borrow, steal profession (look at TPT!) and I am so grateful for the teachers that I have begged, borrowed and stolen from! Here are four notable ones that I needed this week. I hope that you learn something new or are reminded of something old or similar!

1. The Quiet Game: This AMAZING game was shown to me by one of my best friends. I like to let my students talk during snack time because it's a good time for them to get their chit chat out and socialize with their friends. But sometimes they get too noisy, or sometimes I just need the 15 minutes of quiet time. The rules are quite simple. One student is "it" and has to walk around the room and tap someone else who is quiet. Then that student gets up and does the same thing. The game round ends when I decide to (I tell the kids they never know when it is going to end, but when it does, the whole class has to be quiet in order to win the round...this encourages the kids who have already been "it" to not start talking just because they were already "it") I write a tally mark on the board for each round they win. Each tally mark is a bonus minute of free time at the end of the day. You can choose what you want the winning to be (maybe if you have a class jar of something that you fill up when the kids are good, etc.) This gem of a game is so simple, and you can multitask in the quiet time while the kids eat their snack!

2. Dismissal Movie: This great idea came from a former teammate of mine and I immediately said "How have I never thought of that?" At the end of the day when the kids all have their backpacks and coats on, she plays a movie while they wait for the busses to be called and dismissed. She only ends up playing about 5-6 minutes of it, but it keeps the kids settled down and quiet and they look forward to it so they get packed up fast and go right to their seats quietly. We all know how slow-pokey and wild they can be at dismissal!

3. Sight Word Survivor: I just learned this game with my new class. When I observed the teacher before she left, she played this great game with her reading groups. At this time of year the kids need help spelling and writing the sight words, not just reading them. Sight word survivor is a great game to help the students practice, and can be differentiated for each of your reading groups. It's also good for filling 5-10 minutes of time. Here's how it goes: Let's say you have 5 kids in a group. You start with one kid (they don't know who you will start with so they always have to be ready.) You say "the word is LIKE". Point the the student you start with, and he or she has to say the first letter, then the student next to him or her has to say the next letter, and so on. When the word has been spelled, the student next to the last letter has to repeat the word. If a student says the wrong letter, then they are out. The game goes on until there is one Sight Word Survivor left! It's such a great game to practice the words and even the kids that get out toward the beginning are listening to the words being spelled and repeated. The game typically goes pretty fast. You can differentiate this game for your leveled groups, or if you teach older grades you can do this with spelling words to practice! Some of my students have said they make their parents play Sight Word Survivor in the car! Too cute.

4. Rock: Rock, much like The Quiet Game, is a great way to keep the kids quiet during an odd time. This game was shown to me by a teacher who used to have to bring her class to the hallway bathroom after lunch for them to all use the bathrooms at the same time. She would have the girls sit on one side of the hallway and the boys sit on the other. The kids had to sit like "rocks" (criss cross, silent and perfectly still). She would then pick two "rocks" and announce who was the most like a rock when they got back to their classroom. The two rocks (one girl and one boy) would get a sticker. So simple, yet so effective for keeping them quiet in the hall. I've used it when we are waiting at assemblies, waiting to go into a special and when I have to have my class stand in the hall while I run in the main office for something. If they are standing then I call the game Statue.

What are your little gems that you couldn't get through the day without? I'd love to hear.


  1. Congrats!

    When my students are really active during a lesson I have them stand up, put their hands on their head, and slowly fill up their 'balloon'. This means as then slowly breathe in they raise their arms to create a balloon above their head. The balloon represents the air inside of them. They hold it in for a few minutes and then lower their arms as they breathe out. I learned this breathing trick my first year of teaching and the students love it. There is nothing that calms them down as much as slow breathing!


    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog
    Like Me on FB!

  2. Great idea! I am trying that tomorrow. Thanks, Jessica!

  3. Mine is more for the hallway or assemblies. If my kiddos are quiet and we make it to our room or back from an event I add fuzzies to the "Fuzzy Jar". Its a jar that you add pom poms to. But I say you give me that "fuzzy feeling" when you follow directions. You can add as many as you feel, I do 4 for walking to and from the cafeteria, or maybe 5 for being great at an assembly.

    It really works because they want to earn lots of fuzzies to get it to the top. Once at the top I reward them with something. Mine is mostly with being able to go outside and play--they love it, and it doesn't get old. And after the reward they start all over again :)

    I'm your newest follower! Check out my blog!

    -Lovely Nina

    Lovely Little Learners


Back to Top