Friday, June 29, 2012


I have been a little obsessed with a game format this school year and, as you can see,I got a little carried away. Katie and I started making "Battleship" games for any and every reading concept we could muster. The picture below shows a stack of games, but this is by no means all of them. We also created vocabulary games for every weekly unit of 4th and 5th grade Treasures. 
We have been storing them inside pizza boxes (more about this later). The idea is that you have anywhere from 3 to 6 teams or individuals playing and a teacher (or student leader, if the kids understand the rules well enough and are old enough to manage themselves) in charge of the grid and keys. We include a page of A-E/ 1-5 grids for whole group use, a smaller page of grids to be used in a small group, and have a page of grids on our Interwrite board that we use. The hard copies of the grids are handy when we are doing anything in small groups, or when a teacher who is borrowing these on the fly uses them. It saves us from having to email the Interwrite document. We laminated the sheets to allow kids to use markers on them.

Each team is assigned a grid and the teacher/leader secretly selects four spaces to be the "battleship" they are aiming for. Each group is attempting to sink their own battleship. The first to sink it wins. **Note: I put all of my coordinates in a line, line in actual Battleship. I think it works better this way because the kids can figure out which coordinates to guess.

The academic aspect is that each group is given the same group of cards. The picture below shows a synonyms and antonyms game. The sets of cards have word pairs on some cards like: big/small. Other cards in the deck have either the word synonyms or antonyms on them. The groups are all started simultaneously sorting and matching the cards into pairs. So, big/small is matched with antonyms. 

Here are some pictures of groups of kids matching their cards and checking in the glossary of our Treasures reading book for a definition during a vocabulary version.

My favorite part of all of this is to walk around while the kids are matching cards together and hear them saying things about the words or skill we are focusing on. I never suggested for that student to use her glossary, but you better believe that the class saw her and caught on. It is also interesting to see the kids who finish sorting go to other groups to help classmates get cards organized. They just want everyone to have the right answers so we can all move on to the second part of the game.

After all cards are matched, I take my keys, shuffle them, and start calling out one part of the pair or the other. Sometimes, on a really hard skill, I will tell them I am calling out the word, instead of the corresponding card. It depends on my mood and whether the kids ask me to throw them a bone. For the most part, they know I will usually not make it that easy. 

Groups with their cards in the air first get first guess. I try to say, "red, yellow, blue, orange....", so they know what the order was. Sometimes kids who come in late will help me spot. 

They must have the correct answer. A correct answer equals a guess at their coordinates. 

If we have time, I ask the winning group to disperse into the other groups to help man the cards. 

This game can be used for all kinds of curriculum, is good for lots of different learning styles, and can be used in a variety of student grouping formats. I could go all Bubba Gump and start saying, "Tactile learner battleship, social studies battleship, upper and lower case letter-matching battleship, partner activity battleship...", but I won't. You can though! Leave a comment with your idea. I use this in an intermediate classroom, but I am sure that it could be modified to meet Early Childhood needs. 

Pizza Box Storage: I have a surplus of pizza boxes from making some different games in the past. I like how easy they store, how easy it is to see the label with the contents, and that my boxes are plain white. Jeremiah ordered them from one of their vendors at the restaurant, so mine have no writing. You can probably pull the ole' teacher-who-needs-free-stuff-begging-technique at most pizza places and score some boxes. Don't want a box that says "Pizza Shuttle" in your classroom? Fold that sucker inside out and your problem is solved. 

One more favorite thing, and I will stop gushing. We wrote the top ten things about 4th Grade on the last day of school and Battleship was the ONLY academic thing on any of the lists. Granted, sometimes in was a write-in for number 11, but I will take that in a heartbeat. My kiddos begged to play this game all the time, and I just may have given in:)

Battleship sunk!

p.s. Katie learned the original version of this activity "Cause and Effect Battleship" at a training, but we never learned the original source. Isn't that always the way it goes with 'borrowing" ideas and then not crediting them? SOOOOO, here is my effort to say to that original battleship teacher, THANKS!