Monday, February 23, 2015

Classroom Management Part 2: Playing Possum

Let's face it…Elementary school students are not naturally quiet. In my struggles to grab attention or quiet down a classroom (especially before holiday parties…), I invented a little game called "Possum".  It is beautifully simple and extremely effective. I still play this game in my library lessons (grades K-5). Even 5th graders LOVE it! Students will try to win this challenge by being the last student not caught talking by the teacher. The best part is that this game can last over a long period of time and still keep student interest. I once had a game of possum last 3 months in a second grade classroom and half the year in a 5th grade classroom. Students couldn't wait to start this game over.

How do you play?
1. Teachers explain that "playing possum" is when a possum tries to not be caught by a predator by being completely still. In this game students "play possum" by being completely silent. Students will often ask about sneezing, coughing… this does not count as talking.

2. If the possum catcher (teacher) hears a student talk or whisper, then that student is out and has been caught.

3. The last student left in the game is the "Possum Champion".

4. After finding a winner, all students are back in the game.

Note: The possum catcher (teacher) does not have to tell students if they have been caught. This leaves them in suspense and motivated to continue to be quiet.

Play this game anytime for a quiet class in seconds!

Pack includes rules, posters, checklists, award certificates, nonfiction opossum reading and comprehension questions, and resources for more opossum research.

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