Most teachers are always looking for challenging and engaging things for their students to do in class. Activities that encourage participation in class discussions, are always especially welcome. Ideally classroom activities will be fun too – which is one reason why games are popular – although of course we must never forget that the purpose behind all these activities is to encourage and assist learning.
However being interesting and educational is not enough by itself. An activity must also suitable to be adapted for different lesson plans, different ages of students, and, of course, different school subjects. Furthermore, in today’s educational environment cost considerations must necessarily play a part: teachers are both unable and unwilling to spend money on expensive materials that can only be used rarely, or even just once.
One idea that is worth considering is bingo. The basic idea is to play the game using specially prepared bingo cards containing items related to the subject. For example, in a chemistry class you might use the names of elements, compounds or chemical processes. In a math class, you might use mathematical problems. In a geography class, you might use the names of countries, states, provinces, cities, rivers or mountains. And in a foreign language class, you could play bingo using words of French, German or Spanish vocabulary that students are learning.
The beauty of bingo is that you can adapt the game to almost any subject or age range of students. Additionally, you can play the game in a variety of different ways: you could play a “normal” game with the teacher as caller, you could have the teacher call out “clues” instead of the items on the cards, you could ask students to explain the items as they check them off from their bingo cards, or you could even have class discussions during the game after each item is called.
Bingo is also compatible with the cost restrictions that today’s teachers must work under: you can simply print the bingo cards from your computer rather than sending off for expensive supplies. There are two main ways to do that: either you can download ready-made free educational bingo printables from the Internet (available on a variety of subjects), or you can purchase inexpensive bingo card printing software (which will allow you to print bingo cards on any topic, whenever you want). Furthermore, if you find yourself playing bingo on a regular basis, you can even save on your printing costs – simply print once on to good quality paper or card, use the school’s laminator on these, and when you play in class, students can put counters over the squares on the bingo cards rather than writing on them.