As an Essentials tutor, part of my job is to come up with fun review games for our math block. During that 30-minute period, we are focused on drilling math facts to fluency and although I was worried that both of my boys would hate that part of class, they LOVE it. All of the kids do, in fact–even those who share my sons’ distaste for drilling math facts.

One of the games that my class has come to love is Jenga. I’ve seen several different ways to “mod” a Jenga set, most of them involving strips of dry-erase paper glued to the blocks and then written on with a Sharpie. I didn’t want to go to the time or expense of that and instead simply decided to write numbers on one end of the blocks and letters on the other (don’t ask me why I did both because you really only need to do one). I then created a “key” numbered 1-56, with a short math equation for each number. When a student pulls a block, they call out the number and have to answer it correctly before placing their block on the top. We take turns until we run out of time or the blocks fall–whichever comes first!

Fun with Jenga!

I’ve created a simple downloadable key for use with Classical Conversations that includes a set of 56 simple grammar questions from Essentials; 56 simple math equations (suitable for younger students since this is what I have this year–if your students are 2nd or 3rd tour students, you will have to make these more complicated); and a color code from 1-56 that corresponds to CC’s Foundations memory work flash cards. Numbers 1-8, for example, are coded pink on the sheet so if a student were to draw out a 7, then they would be asked a Latin question (because the Latin cards are pink). This should just be considered a starting point: you can and should definitely create your own questions depending on the proficiency of your students. Also, the grammar questions only cover material from Weeks 1-4 of Essentials and so there are many, many more questions that could be added if you played it later in the year. But that’s the beauty of the key. Since I didn’t write on the actual blocks, there’s no cleaning them off and writing new questions. I just have to type some up on the key and I’m good to go.

Have you used Jenga in a fun way with your students? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.