Each year I forget how time consuming it is to get ready for back to school! My apologies for being MIA from posting. I love the “honeymoon” phase of back to school. Students are willing and eager to please, excitement is in the air, and kids love to get in the groove of the teaching style in my classroom. Recently I posted a photo on instagram of my students playing “nonfiction text feature jenga” which had a lot of people wondering, how does it work?
Jenga in the classroom is an idea that came from Hope King, a fabulous teacher at the Ron Clark Academy. I love how versatile this game is because you can literally use it for any subject. She has a great version of “giant jenga” and you can watch her tutorial below!
Since I didn’t have a lot of time (or resources) to prepare jenga in my classroom, I found four mini jenga sets at the dollar tree (called tumble towers). For this mini version, I recommend students use a pencil instead of their finger because the pieces are quite tiny! I haven’t had a chance to color code them yet but I didn’t need that for this week’s activity.
Here’s how we used jenga to identify nonfiction text features:
- I downloaded free nonfiction text feature task cards here from Teachers Pay Teachers. I made four sets and laminated them. These are great! The multiple choice format was perfect for the game.
- Students were divided into four groups and given a whiteboard, marker, and jenga set.
- I modeled for students how to play the game: One student turns over the task card and everyone in the group has to write down the answer (a,b,c, or d) on their whiteboard. The picker asks what everyone got and they must all agree before that student pulls a jenga piece. This made for great discussions, debates, and conversations! Sometimes a group was split on their opinions and that gave me a better idea of how well I instructed them and it allowed me to meet with smaller sets of students for their particular needs.
- The game continues with the next student pulling a task card, the group writing down what they think is the correct answer, sharing, and then pulling. If the jenga set gets knocked down, they just build it back up and keep going!
What I love about this game is that it is simple, little prep, and the students absolutely love it! I look forward to seeking out new ways throughout the school year to use the game in all of my subjects. Let me know how you’re using jenga in the classroom!