I've been blogging about teaching multiplication lately, and have mentioned playing a game called Sparkle as part of our memorization process. Today I thought I would explain how we do this in my classroom.
Basically we are skip counting by ones, twos, etc. We call this "Secret Code Sparkle," because we're just cool like that. =)
This is a cooperative practice game that requires listening skills. If a student is talking, they will not know the answer. Uh-oh. They learn pretty quickly to pay close attention to what is going on. It also teaches students how to handle the frustration of being out of the game, whether they have made a mistake, or through no fault of their own. (I have students model good and bad ways to respond when they get "sparkled". I have found that third graders also need to learn how to be gracious winners, so we model that, too.)
Here are the basic rules:
1. Have your students stand in a large circle around the outside of the classroom.
2. The teacher stands in the middle.
3. NO moving once you have found your spot!
4. The teacher chooses a number from 1 - 10 and points to a random student, saying, for example, "Count by twos to twenty, GO!" (The teacher holds up two fingers while always facing the student who is speaking, in case they forget the factor being used.) Be careful at this point! If they get going really fast, you could get very dizzy!
5. The first student repeats the number, the next student (going clockwise) says the next skip counting number, and so on, until the original number has been multiplied by ten.
6. When the last number is stated, the next student says, "Sparkle!"
7. The student after the sparkle student sits down. They are out of the game.
8. If a student says the wrong number, or takes too long to answer, they must sit down. (Because of Whole Brain Teaching, the entire class says, "It's cool!" when someone makes a mistake - making it much easier for students to handle!)
9. The last student (or students - you decide when to stop) standing get a reward. This can be anything: first choice for centers, an extra minute of recess, first in line to lunch, a reading buddy (stuffed animal) on their desk during quiet reading, a lollipop, etc. Whatever is a reward in your classroom.
(I know that many of us have special needs students in our classroom. I have found that my students naturally give more wait time when it's needed, and extra positive feedback for a correct answer, etc. I do allow certain students to "sit out" the game, if they are having a bad day.)
There are many variations on this theme:
A. Use spelling words every Friday before the test.
B. Use vocabulary words, but instead of spelling them, the first student defines the word, and the second must use it in a sentence. (This works best with smaller groups during centers.)
C. Use parts of speech. Say, "Give me 5 verbs, GO!", "Give me seven nouns, GO!", etc.
We have a lot of fun practicing what we have learned with this game, while learning important listening skills, speaking skills, and social skills. Do you use this game in your classroom? I would love to hear other ways that it is used! Please let me know in the comments.
Happy Teaching With Sparkle,