One of my students’ favorite all class games to play is Slap! I love how it is easy to prepare, set up, and play. They love how it is fun and competitive but doesn’t put a huge amount of pressure on any one student. This game is very versatile and can be used to practice just about anything with 2-4 set “answers.”
To play slap you need a few very basic materials: large signs with one answer printed on each (I use letter sized paper), a strong magnet (or other attachment device) for each answer sign, and a fly swatter for each team (get extra, they break–especially if you have a highly competitive group of older students). The last thing you need is a list of questions or sentences for students to answer/complete, all of which should be able to be answered with one of the words/numbers on the answer signs. These can be written on regular paper or printed onto task cards, whichever you prefer.
Once you’ve gathered your materials, and written your questions/sentences, you are ready to play. Place your answer signs on the board or wall in a central location. Divide your class into two teams. Each team sends one representative to the board. The two opponents each take a fly swatter and face the answer signs. You read the question/sentence and the students race to be the first to slap the correct answer with their fly swatters. The winning student earns a point for his/her team and the students return to their seats as new representatives are sent forward.
Some situations that often occur & my solutions:
- The “I was first!” protest: Inevitably discussion erupts as to who was first, so I tell my students before we begin that I will be the final judge and whoever’s swatter is on the bottom (but still on top of the sign) will be considered the winner.
- Teammates calling out the answer: As with any whole class game, there are always a few students who like to call out the answer, hoping to “help” their teammate, whether he/she needs it or not. In this game, I don’t even try to stop it. Whole class participation is a good thing! Besides, it never lasts long. The students quickly realize that it isn’t possible to yell out the answer and not have the opposing player hear it as well, so they usually quit doing it.
- Answer signs falling: I prefer to use laminated cardstock to print my answer signs, which is of course heavier and requires a stronger magnet. I have invested in stronger magnets, but another option is simply to place a magnet in all four corners of each sign. This also has the advantage of preventing fly swatters from ending up under, rather than on top of, answer signs.
- Some students want to participate more than others: From the beginning I tell students that no one may take a second (or third) turn before every person on the team has had at least one turn. I also make sure to have at least 24 questions/sentences for every game–enough so every person on the team will go at least once (assuming a class of 48 or fewer), often most will go at least twice.
- No answer signs: There have been times when I didn’t make answer signs, forgot the signs at home, or I forget magnets or other means of holding them on the wall. In those instances it is possible to play the game by simply writing the answers on the board with dry erase marker or chalk. Be prepared to have to write them over and over again though because the fly swatters will wipe them off.
- No fly swatters: There have also been times when the fly swatters have broken, or I’ve left them at home. This is also an obstacle with a solution. Anything with a decent reach can be used–even a rolled up newspaper or paper towel tube. I do not suggest using hand though, sometimes things get too exciting and students “accidentally” slap one another’s hands with a bit more force than is absolutely necessary.
Having only 18 sentences, this mini-game is perfect for practicing using was vs. were in past tense sentences. Download it for free using the link on the left.
Noun Category Slap!
This game is actually two separate games. In the first, students practice categorizing nouns as either common or proper. In the second, they decide if the noun is count or non-count. I always allow student to have their noun quick reference sheets (download for free via the link on the left) out on their desk while playing, but they rarely have to reference them. The count/non-count version is an especially fun way to practice as a whole class after they’ve done individual/small group practice with It’ll All Come Out In The Wash (see blog post from April, 2021).
Rather than having entire sentences, as in Was/Were Slap, in these games all I read out is a single noun. It makes the game go even faster and students have the opportunity for multiple turns as the “swatter.”
One of the hardest things about integers for my students to master was whether the answer would be positive or negative. Playing Integer Fishing helped, but it only gave them practice with adding integers. Integer Slap allows practice with all four operations, and takes the focus off the computational part of the mathematics. In the game, students are read a rule or problem and asked to decide if the answer will be positive or
negative. The numerical part of the answer isn’t an issue (though it does have to be considered, at least when adding/subtracting), only whether it is positive or negative. I always allow students to keep their foldable notes (free download from Teachers Pay Teachers) on their desks, but there’s no time to check them when it’s your turn at the board. This particular game has the prompts written on task cards so when I want them to focus on the computational aspects as well I can use them in a different manner.
This is not a new game, my students and I have been playing it for over 20 years now (and I’m certain it predates us), but it is a fun one. I’ve used it with all ages, from kindergarten to adults (in fact, my adults played the count/non-count version of it this week and had a blast). One of the other things I like about it is it is highly portable and does not rely on technology or expensive equipment. I’ve used it in technologically tricked-out classrooms in the USA, Australia, and Europe. I’ve also used it in mud brick buildings with grass thatched roofs in Africa. No matter the age or location of the students, it’s always been a success for me. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you give it a try sometime. I am sure your students will enjoy it as well! Happy teaching, everyone!