Here is a game I created called “Ring the Bell!” It is a wonderful small group “Bang” style game for the beginning of the school year for Pre-K, Kindergarten, or first grade. I love it because it is fast paced, can be easily modified to review either letters, numbers, or words, and has elements in it that help children get to know each other a little bit! Each year when I have played it with my little students, they have loved it!
As many of you know, I am on a Leave of Absence this year so that I can work on growing our HeidiSongs business and do more speaking at conferences and school districts. (Did you know that you can bring me to your school for staff development??? Email us to find out how!) Anyway, I was reminded of this great back to school game when my former aide Rachel called me and asked if she could borrow my copy of Ring the Bell. (She is now working with a teacher new to Kindergarten.) Of course I agreed, but I reminded her that she would need some kind of bell or a Staples “Easy Button” to play the game. They didn’t have one, so I lent her my Easy Button as well.
Some of you may already have Ring the Bell, since I posted it on my website a few years back, but I don’t believe that I have mentioned it since. (This game is a $5 download, but if you have some similar clip art and some time, you could probably make your own game, since I am telling you below exactly how to play it!) I figure that if it is important enough for Rachel to ask for, it’s important enough for another mention! (Yes, I could have sent her the download, but they didn’t have the Easy Button at hand anyway, and they needed the game first thing in the morning.)
To Set Up the Game:
1. Print out the game and cut the cards apart. Decide which concepts you want to work on, and include those cards in the game. I have included letters, numbers 0-10, and some color words, and a VERY few basic sight words in the download. There is also a page of blank cards so you can customize the game to your students’ needs.
2. Find some kind of button or bell. Any kind will do! But, if you use a “Freeze Bell” in your classroom, I would advise you NOT to use that same bell. It will confuse your students to hear it all of the time, and they will start to learn to ignore it. This will essentially train your students to IGNORE the bell- which is NOT what you want, of course! I went with the Easy Button because it was relatively quiet, and the rest of the class was able to ignore it and go on with their centers and activities while I played the game with one small group at a time.
3. Feel free to eliminate any of the “special” picture cards below, such as the “recess” card, where the kids run around the table once, etc. Different groups of children can handle different levels of activity in the classroom, and are able to calm themselves back down again afterwards. So if this makes you nervous, eliminate it!
Here is how you play Ring the Bell:
1. The dealer holds all the cards, shuffling them before beginning. Try to put one “Ring the Bell! card on the bottom of the stack.
2. The dealer gives the first child a card. He tries to identify the card. If he cannot identify it, just tell him and have him repeat it. There is no penalty.
3. If the child receives a “special card,” then he must do the following things.
Apple: The child has to give his apple card to the teacher.
Snack Time: The child gets a piece of cereal or some other treat.
Write Your Name: The child tries to draw his or her name (or the first letter of his name) on a friend’s back.
You Are So Smart: Everyone at the table points to that child and says, “You are so smart!” (My students LOVED this!)
Recess: The child gets up from his chair and runs around the table one time.
The Dog At My Homework: The child must give all of his cards to his teacher.
You’re My New Friend: Give someone a card. Giving a hug as well is optional!
Ring the Bell: Ring the bell, and then you get all the cards at the table, (except for the dealer’s cards.) We use a Staples “That was easy!” button for the bell.
The game continues until all of the cards are dealt…. or you run out of time! The child with the most cards is the winner.
Tips for making this game go well:
– If you think that a child may be left out of the “You’re my new friend” loop, and not get chosen, consider playing the game along with your students so that you can make sure that all of the children get chosen at least once.
– Consider placing all of the “special” picture cards in a separate pile, hidden in your lap or put ALL of them at the bottom of the stack so that you have some control over who gets them and when. That way, you can make sure that you get lots of drill and practice with the concepts in, and then as their attention span begins to wane, you can start throwing in the special picture cards. You can also make sure that everyone gets to ring the bell, which is of course very important to all of the children.
– I often gave this game to volunteers or my aide to play with the students during our small group rotation, since it is very easy to play and requires no real expertise. But it is a really nice way to bond with the children, since they always seem to REALLY enjoy this game, every single year!
– I usually tell the children that if they do their best and are good, at the end of the game, I will let them all ring the bell one more time. This provides some good motivation to behave… if you follow through!
– When you are transitioning from one group to another, consider placing the bell up on a shelf or ledge out of reach! Buttons that make funny sounds are EXTREMELY tempting, and if you have forbidden the students to press them without permission, but leave them within reach, you may find yourself having to do some extra disciplining on that day. And that is NO FUN! I figure, if I can prevent a problem from happening and make it a happier day, then I may as well! You can always give a lesson on self control later on another day, and leave it within reach… and see if the children can go ALL day long without pressing it!!! But at the beginning of the year, when there are so many new procedures and so many things for the teacher to deal with…. well, I would just rather NOT!
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