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  • Writer's pictureNancy Radke

How to Use Teaching Games~Game #1

Updated: Aug 5, 2022


Basketball can be used as a teaching game outdoors, indoors or any time of the day.

Only one student? Students of all ages and abilities? NO PROBLEM! Use teaching games. Games fulfill the need for motivation, repetition, discipline, and reward...while enabling your kids to remember facts they would otherwise consider too dull or hard.

WHAT CAN BE TAUGHT USING THEM: Teaching games can be used for many subjects, including Bible study. All the games (30) that I have, I developed to teach Bible classes, but they are very adaptable. I even used one in a high school honors class, when I was substitute teaching and the teacher left a list of facts they needed to learn. Kids had fun and learned the facts before we ended class time.

If you haven't read the first blog in this series, concerning the use of the question box, please read it now, so that I don't have to repeat all the material. You will need it before you can run a game well.

Games must be run orderly and with a teaching purpose.

1) Always have your questions prepared in advance. Write down what you want each child to learn. This will help you have a clear idea of what you want to teach.

2) Next write these out in question form on separate slips of 1"x 3" paper, one question per slip of paper. Under each question, write down the answer. This keeps you consistent and also allows kids to play against each other without your presence.

3) Now look at your questions. Are they simple yes-no questions, or have you brought some up to a question asking for a fact, or better, an application of a fact? Put the questions into a "question box" along with any questions that arise during the lesson. DON”T NEGLECT THIS AND WONDER WHY THE GAME DIDN’T WORK!

4) Always use a question box. (See blog #1 on how to use this) It keeps the game moving. Leave harder questions in the box over several game sessions (for review), while adding new questions. Be sure to put the questions back into the box during the game so that you will ask the same question more than once (sometimes to the next child. If he has been listening to the questions and answers, he'll be able to answer it, even though it may be a tough question. This provides the repetition necessary for some kids to learn.

Like a good referee, keep control of the game. Establish rules before the game begins.

1) Only the one answering the question may talk. No one else (unless it is designated a group question).

2) There are to be no remarks made about the answer by the other students, such as "Oh, that was easy," or "I knew that," which implies that the person struggling with the answer should have known it.

3) Give penalties immediately by taking away points.

Ask the questions properly, so that they teach:

1) If the correct answer is given, it is rewarded by the player advancing in the game.

2) If an incorrect answer is given, the sides or players change, but the teacher gives the correct answer. This is extremely important. The child must hear the correct answer immediately instead of several wrong answers.

3) If an answer is almost correct, award a point if you want to, but you as teacher say the answer correctly. If a child doesn't seem to understand the question, rephrase it and see if he can then answer it. Do not leave a wrong answer hanging out there.

4) Once the correct answer is given by you or the child, put the question back in the box.

Ask the same question several times during the course of the game. This does three things:

1) First, it teaches a child to listen to the answers. This only happens when a question box is used properly. A listening class is a learning class.

2) Second, it calls attention to the things being taught; they realize they must know the lesson to play the game.

3)Third, it lets them hear the correct teaching several times. You may ask your advanced student a hard question, several times, until all have heard both it and the answer. Then ask your other students for the answer. They should know it, if they've been listening.

GAMES: Before you play any of these games, be sure to read and understand the previous section.

Feel free to change rules to adapt the game to your class. If you have only one child, ask the question. If he gets it, he gets the point. If not, you answer it correctly, and YOU get the point. Play long enough so that the pendulum switches to his getting most of the answers. Don’t cheat and deliberately throw the game. He needs to know he won fairly.


Basketball is a favorite because it is an effective equalizer. Anyone has a chance to win, not just the “smart” kid, or the athletic kid. This game requires a basket (wastepaper basket, cardboard box, hoop) and a ball (Nerf ball, wadded-up paper, basketball). Lay a pencil or ruler on the floor; they must stand behind it to shoot. If working with a wide age range, put down different free throw lines.

If it is just you and your child, you could just take points or actually shoot for your team. You can also go outside and play “HORSE.” This is an excellent game if you have a dyslexic child who needs activity to help him learn. A high school student can play a first grader if you adjust the throwing line and the height of the hoop.

Team #1 is asked a question. If the correct answer is given, that player takes a shot. If he makes a basket, score 2 points. If he misses, score 1 point for his correct answer. (Variation: no points given unless the basket is made.) QUESTION GOES BACK INTO THE BOX.

If discipline is required of a player, give the other team a "free" (no question asked first) foul shot, worth one point. If it is just you and your kid playing, you get the free throw.

As I said in my last blog, the games are easy, it is the way you play them and use the question box that makes them such a terrific learning tool. Make sure you read the short blog #1 on using the question box.

All games and game rules are described in the book, First Aid for Bible Classes, available on this site.

Next blog: Tower of Babel game



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