Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Simple Elementary Whole-Class Grouping Game

I can't remember exactly where I picked up this idea--I'm not sure if I participated in this game as part of professional development of some kind or if I watched a colleague use it with their class.  Either way, it's a way to practice grouping with your entire class or any large group.  It would be most beneficial for grades K-2.

You could do this in the classroom (depending on how much space you have) but you might need to move to a bigger space since your students will have to move around a little.  Once you're in your space, the game is simple:
  1. You will be calling out numbers.  Your students then get into groups of that number.  They can hold hands or at least hold each other by the arm (set your expectation for this ahead of time).
  2. They must get into their groups quickly and correctly.  If their group has the wrong number, or an odd number of students are left out because of the numbers you gave, they're out.
  3. Continue playing until you're down to a group of two.  These are the winners, and if you think they're up to it, they can be the ones calling the numbers for the next round.
Before the game, have students could the number of students in the class.  As you play, have students count the number of groups you've made and how many are left over.  When you repeat numbers, briefly discuss why the number of groups might have changed.  For example, if you used 3 when you had 18 students, then 3 again when there were 12 students left, this is a good opportunity to wonder aloud why there are only 4 groups of 3 left.

I realize that your very young students might not respond well to being "out" of the game, especially if they are having trouble socially.  Having multiple rounds of the game is one way to avoid this, but you also don't want only friends grouping with each other.  To add a team-building, socializing element to the game, you have to encourage students to try to make groups with everybody in the class at some point in the game.  I also remember during my time playing the game, that the groups started small and then got bigger, requiring the addition of different students to each one.

I'm not an elementary expert by any means, however, so any suggestions to this end would be greatly appreciated.

Grouping is an essential skill for both multiplication and division, but also for adding and subtracting, fractions, percents, decimals, and even combining like terms in algebra.  You can supplement this activity with anything that asks questions like "How many groups of __ can you make?"

Come back tomorrow for a follow up grouping activity using a deck of cards!