Games can be wonderful teaching tools if they add something to the lesson that is being taught. However, sometimes circumstances make the games in curriculum impossible to use. I encountered a few challenges with games in curriculum I used, and perhaps sharing these experiences will help others.
One challenge can be the size of the classroom. Some games, especially those with a lot of activity, may not work for churches with small classrooms and no play area. At times, if the weather permits, this type of game can be taken outside where there’s plenty of room for running around.
Secondly, a challenge may come about when there is an unworkable number of students in the class. One example of this came about when I taught a class of primary-age students (Grades 1-3). The curriculum we were using included a game that I thought the students would enjoy and it went well with the lesson.
The curriculum included a small game board and a few pieces for students to move along the board. The challenge became apparent when I tried to gather ten youngsters around the table where I setup the game. There was not enough room for the students to gather around and be able to see the game board. Nor were there enough game pieces for each student to participate. Soon the students lost interest and became restless.
In an attempt to solve the problem, I pinned the game board to a bulletin board in front of the classroom. This didn’t work because the markings on the game board were too small to see from that distance. Consequently, we gave up the game and did another activity.
On another day, with a smaller class, we had a game that wouldn’t work because there were not enough students in the class. Throughout my years of teaching Bible, I’ve encountered the following challenges with games that were included in curriculum I used:
- Companies don’t include enough game pieces or cards to make the game work for the class.
- The game board and/or writing on the board was too small for the students to read when they gathered around the table where the game was set up. Also, the students kept crowding in front of one another and creating arguments so the game had to be stopped.
- The game took so much time that it consumed a large part of class time, and we could not finish it.
- The game moved along too slowly and the students got bored with it.
- The game provided did not relate to the lesson or unit theme and didn’t add anything to the lesson.
- The game included a lot of movement and we only had a small classroom space.
- The game did not work for a class that had students of various ages and sizes.
I understand curriculum designers and writers can’t possibly foresee every challenge that might come up in classrooms using their materials. They can only gain insight by hearing responses from teachers and workers who have used Bible curriculum. Therefore, I offer up the above tips and tidbits for consideration. Only with God’s help and by working together, can we improve teaching materials.
I want to encourage curriculum designers to keep the games coming because students enjoy and learn from them.