Kindergarten teachers utilize games as learning tools in the classroom. Five-year olds learn best through multi-sensory activities. Since most kindergarten instruction focuses on math and reading, teachers should choose games that help kids develop beginning skills in these areas. Teachers can also choose games that help with social and listening skills and also incorporate games that involve movement to help students academically and physically.
Kindergarten students begin their formal reading instruction at the beginning of the year by learning the names of letters and the sounds they represent. Games that reinforce phonological and phonemic awareness are most effective. Alphabet Bingo helps students practice several skills at one time. The teacher can call out a letter or display a letter on a flashcard and have students place a chip or marker on the letter if it is on their card. After the children begin learning sounds, the teacher can play variations of Bingo by saying a word like "cat" and have students place a marker on the letter that corresponds to the initial, middle, or ending sound.
Kindergarten math introduces kids to many skills. They learn to count, recognize shapes and numbers, and apply concepts like "more" and "less." Students also learn about telling time and counting money. Teachers have a wide choice of games to practice these skills. Kids can compete in number races in which the teacher pairs them, then calls out a number and sees which one can write it first. Musical Chairs can be adapted to practice number and shape recognition. The teacher writes numbers or draws shapes on construction paper and tapes them to the chairs. After the music stops and the children scramble for a seat, the child left standing has to name the classmate who is sitting on the chair with the targeted letter or shape. If he chooses correctly, he gets to play the next round.
Kindergarten is the optimum grade for teaching children how to listen. This is an academic and life skill necessary for success, no matter the age or grade. Kids need to practice active listening. Teachers can use simple, but effective games to build productive listening skills. "Sound Seek" helps kids pay attention to specific sounds. The teacher hides a ticking timer somewhere in the classroom and has the children look for it--reinforcing attentiveness. Children can also close their eyes and listen while the teacher makes a noise, like stapling papers or crumbling tin foil. The children make guesses about the sound. The child that guesses correctly wins a small prize.
Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.