Thriving School Psych Thriving Students

Study Skill O’ the Week: Swatters!

“If it’s not fun, they won’t learn!” – 5th grade teacher, Inner City Elementary

I overheard this teacher say this the other day, and I must say, her classroom does seem to be pretty fun. Whenever I go in there, the kids are smiling and on-task. Almost every day in her class is a total Learning Party. Wheeeeee!* I don’t know how she does it, working in the inner city, and every day she is so excited about teaching. I wonder if this teacher wakes up on Monday, jolts out of bed, claps her hands together, and exclaims, “TGIM!”

Anyway, with full credit to this teacher, I want to share a technique she uses to help her students memorize facts. I incorporate this in my study skill coaching repertoire, because it really is more fun than traditional “Drill and Kill” techniques with flashcards. It’s called “Swatters” and I thought I’d pass it on as a way to make memorization fun. Do let me know how it goes.

1) Obtain two fly swatters.

2) Explain to the class that they are not to be used for swatting flies. Very important, as I forgot to do this once and had to go buy a new swatter because I was too grossed out to use it again. Bleeh. Fly Guts.

3) Have the students put the answers to certain memorization questions on flash cards. I have used vocabulary words, possible test questions, and math facts. Place the answers on the blackboard in a random array.

4) Have the class line up in two parallel lines, facing the board, with about 6-10 feet in between the board and the first two kids. I’d put a masking tape line there as a start line so you avoid the “He’s cheating!” conversation.

5) Explain the rules. If anyone swats a fly or a classmate, they are disqualified. If anyone pushes anyone, they are disqualified. Whoever hits the flashcard first wins—in the event that both kids hit the correct card, this is determined by whose swatter is on the bottom.

6) Teacher calls out the question, such as “When was the constitution signed?” or “What’s 2 X 5?” and the first two in the rows run up to the board and swat the correct answer. The team with the swatter on the correct card gets a point, and the two return to the back of the line.

7) Proceed until you, or the kids, are bored, or you run out of questions. I have found that even the most ADHD kids ever want to do this game for like 45 minutes, only because they finally get to use that energy.

*Baffling, I know. I want what she has for breakfast.

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Comments on Study Skill O’ the Week: Swatters!

  1. Kate says:

    That sounds pretty fun! I’ll try it with high school kids as soon as I get some swatters. 🙂

  2. Taylor B. says:

    This sounds like a really versatile game. Kinetic education has proven to work for all kinds of students, and this seems like a good way to keep kids moving around and engaged (read: awake), as well as a meaningful educational exercise.

    I wonder if it would work as well with older kids (rather, as peacefully…I could see older kids not caring that they’re “disqualified” if they could be hitting someone with a bug swatter…)

  3. Jessica R. says:

    I’m a current college student and one of my college professors actually had my sophomore level class play this game. It was a very fun way, even at a college level, to show what we knew about the topic (educational psychologists) and much better than sitting in a desk for two hours. I would imagine that this game would be a big hit with students of a younger age because it allows students to use their energy in a constructive manner.

  4. Kate- Let us know how it goes!

    Taylor–I’ve been thinking about the “rules” for the older kids, because being disqualified isn’t that big of a deterrent. I’m thinking some sort of group contingency, in which the winning team gets some class points or a “No Homework Pass” so that there is peer pressure not to be disqualified.

    Jessica-Who doesn’t love a little fly swatting instead of listening to lecture? 😉

  5. I have been playing this with my 1st graders for high frequency word practice. They have a blast.

  6. Kate says:

    I did it a while ago and just wrote it up. Very successful, thank you! Other teachers have started doing it this way, too.

  7. Ginger Snaps says:

    This is hilarious, not to mention AWESOME!! I am totally going to use this in my class!

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