Powered By Blog Gadgets

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can Homework Be Fun?

      I was always hesitant to send things home with my little ones.  But, as kindergarten slowly became the "new first grade," it became necessary to a certain degree.  I have also had several parents ask me for homework or suggestions about academically-oriented activities.  Then, after I became a parent, I found out why doing a "homework" assignment or two doesn't hurt:  you're spending time together, helping them with necessary skills, and finding out more about their current skills and areas that need work.
     But, I do NOT like to send home worksheets.  I always send games,  fun activities, or books.  One example is my "Friday Fun Backpacks" (I'll have to start these again soon) filled with books and related activity pages.  These are usually packed around a theme like Dr. Seuss.  One pack is just a LeapFrog with 5 sets of books & tapes.  Even the kids that say they already have one love to take it home!  Right now, I have some great ideas for a dinosaur pack and I've collected some books and other WAY-cool stuff, but just haven't had the time to put it together.  (I'm waiting for some beginning readers with dinos.  I wanted to make some, but I'm so busy! Let me know if you find any cool dino printable books.)
     The majority of homework that I send home are games.  I have probably over 100 different games by now.  Some are out in my classroom, ready to send home.  Others are boxed at school and in my basement!  Here's what my game basket looks like:

My homework game basket

     Games are an easy way to differentiate instruction.  Each child in my classroom (while still doing most of the same large group work and center activities) is working at his/her own level and pace.  For example, I always have a few students who are working on letter sounds, so I can send related games home with them.  Another group might be working on reading 3-letter words, so they take these games home.  One more group might need to work on reading simple sentences or long vowel sound words.  When students need more practice on a certain skill, I make a new game!  Here are a few of my games:
I made this game so students could work on short vowel sounds.  

These are both reading games where the students read 3-letter words.
     So do the games come back?  I know you want the answer to this!  Most of the games do come back.  Parts and pieces, now that's a different story.  But, these small things are bound to get lost in the shuffle, anyway, whether they go home or stay in the classroom.  I keep a list of student names, keeping track of which game they have played (both to keep track of material covered and the game).  I also send homework tags with each game listing the date they are sent and  the homework to be covered (and any notes about which set of cards to use or other instructions about the material).  Parents sign the tag and provide simple feedback about the game (was it easy/just right/difficult?).  I give sticker chart stickers for signed, returned games.  

     Believe it or not, my students actually ASK for the games!  They really like the games with cool graphics and playing pieces like cars or animals.  They return the games because they want to take another one home!

     So, here are a couple of FREE GAMES from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Be sure to get a copy for your class!  Click on the caption below each picture, go to the page and click "download."

A math game for greater than, less than, & equal to

A CVC Word Reading Game

Thanks for reading!
Teacher Tam

Pin It!


  1. This is a great idea, and something that I see as the early stages of sending elementary and middle school students home with an assignment like "create a website" or "make a video."

    I remember being young and not wanting to do work in school because I'd rather play games. Then, as I got older, I remember not want to work because I'd rather create things.

    Students nowadays have the chance to do that, thanks to technology and (of course) great teachers like you! Thanks!

  2. I love your blog and have nominated it for the "Blog on Fire Award" Check out my blog at http://www.kimberlycollingwood.blogspot.com for info on this award.