Special Education

Educational Games in the Classroom

One of the reasons ESE students have so much trouble in traditional classroom settings is because their learning styles are atypical. Lectures, taking notes, and reading chapter after chapter are simply not the way they learn best. ESOL students also have trouble when placed in a classroom at first because they simply don’t understand what is being said or what they are being asked to read. This is where games can be a lifesaver for the children and the teachers. Try one of these educational games to help encourage your unique learners.

Apples to Apples

This game is great for building English skills, fostering conversations, turn taking, and teaching to use supporting details to defend their choice. The game has two decks; one red and one green. The green cards have descriptive words and the red cards have nouns. Each player is dealt cards from each deck. The judge for the round plays a green card and other players must play red cards that best describe the chosen green card. The judge chooses the winner and the winner becomes the judge. This game is most often used in junior high or high school English classes but some versions are available for younger players. The junior game lists synonyms for the descriptive words to help increase vocabulary.

Money Bags

While there are lots of games out there that deal with money, such as Monopoly, most don’t include the coins that are common in the American model. Money Bags is different. Children are awarded money based on real currency so the learn how to count their money as well as reinforcing adding and subtracting skills. This is primarily a game for younger children and those who have difficulty with math or are unfamiliar with American currency.


This is a great game for students struggling with grammar and vocabulary. The game is ideal for ages 10 and up and can be played by up to 6 people. Nine letters are randomly chosen and players then have to make as many words as possible with those letters. The twist is that they also have to write synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms for their words in a set amount of time. Students then get to challenge word associations and must defend their choices.


This is not your typical card game. The deck has number cards, operator cards, and parentheses cards. For each round a random number is assigned and players have to make as many equations as possible to equal that number. This game helps students improve their mental math skills and problem solving skills.

Do you think games are a sneaky way to get students to enjoy learning or a waste of time? If you use games in the classroom what are your favorites?

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