Games for the Substitute Teacher (MS/HS)
I juggle cats.
United States
Indianapolis
IN
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In a few weeks, I will be starting down the professional Educator path as a Substitute Teacher. I'll be focused primarily on Middle School & High School (ages 11-18).

In looking through suggestions for downtime activities, I have been less than impressed. There seems to be an abundance of information for Elementary age, but very little for MS, and almost nothing for HS.

I scoured the Geek and found several lists of games used in classrooms, but most of them were lists of age appropriate games with an educational theme that topped out (as most games do) around 6p.

What I'm looking for is:
- Playable by entire class (modifications OK)
- Age Appropriate (11-17)
- Easy to teach
- Customizeable playtime (10-45 min)
- Inexpensive (because they will probably get trashed over time)

I have a couple games that I've used successfully in our church MS/HS group that I will start off with to give you an idea of what I'm looking for.
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1. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1198]
I juggle cats.
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Indianapolis
IN
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The favorite game of the MS/HS group @ my church, and meets all my criteria. Our group skews young, so I'm not sure how it'd go over with, say, an 11th grade class. But it's still the first thing I thought of adding to my bag of tricks.

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2. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:507]
I juggle cats.
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Indianapolis
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Takes some modification to fit a classroom-sized group, but plays pretty well. Worst part is the rules are a little over the heads of the group I've played with, so the scoring needs to be modified (and made less fun).
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3. Board Game: Eat Poop You Cat [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:694]
Andy Foulke
United States
Bethel Park
PA
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This one went over well with my youth group, but there's a chance it could get loud and/or naughty. Perhaps you'd have to split the class up into groups.
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4. Board Game: Haggle [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:9002]
Andy Foulke
United States
Bethel Park
PA
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I've been wanting to try Haggle with my youth group, but they always seem to come up with other things they'd like to do. There's various rulesets in the BGG Haggle forum
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5. Board Game: Covert Action [Average Rating:5.20 Overall Rank:14808]
Andy Foulke
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Bethel Park
PA
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This one had a brief flurry of activity in our group. Another in the werewolf school
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6. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:620]
 
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
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Aka Incan Gold. Press-your-luck seems to go over well with kids of all ages as people take huge risks that fail miserably more often than not.
 
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7. Board Game: Zendo [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:698]
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
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Or something similar played with other pieces. (I saw Starburst candies mentioned as one possible playing piece the other day. Brilliant.) Has the upside of being vaguely educational in terms of inductive reasoning, the scientific method, etc. The zen theme is a little weak, IMHO...
 
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8. Board Game: Silent War [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:1846]
Dan
United States
San Francisco
California
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Don't laugh me off on this one. I normally teach HS language arts, but one summer I was assigned to teach MS math. I made up a game that's a mix of War and Indian Head Poker to improve their multiplying and dividing skills (which were abysmal).

- Two students come up in front of the class and draw a card.
- They each look at their card without showing it to their opponent.
- On my mark, they raise the card to their head and shout out the product.
- Winner takes both cards back to their desk/group.

They CLAMORED for this game. They would have played it for two hours without stopping. What's more they improved their multiples (even up through 13).

A few variations:

+ after all the cards are gone, the team with the best poker hand "wins."
+ when they're comfortable, have them bring in their own decks and they can play war one-on-one as a bell ringer.
+ students draw a card WITHOUT looking at it and place it on their forehead. You tell them the product and they have to determine what card's on their forehead.

There are endless possibilities and decks of cards are much cheaper than board games. Let us know how things go. Is this your first teaching gig? Let me know if you'd like some advice, a good book to read, or a shoulder to cry on when you sit on your first tack

Haha just kidding about the tack...
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9. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1231]
Daryl Anderson
United States
Trumansburg
New York
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I used this one a bunch in 6th and 7th grade math and find those students still playing it in HS. Certainly a great game if you are subbing in a math class.
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10. Board Game: Pit [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1368]
Daryl Anderson
United States
Trumansburg
New York
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If you are ready for an elevated noise level !
 
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11. Board Game: A Dog's Life [Average Rating:5.54 Overall Rank:12369]
Daryl Anderson
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Trumansburg
New York
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The MOST popular game in our games club which has wide age- and gender-appeal. Rules aren't too tricky and it allows I think for 7 players. Games can be shortened by making one or two "buried bones" as a victory condition instead of three.
 
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12. Board Game: Smarty Party! [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2502]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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Not exactly Smarty Party! or Outburst! but something similar. I recently visited a middle school history class where the teacher split them into three teams and the groups had to come up with lots of answers to a broad category. Then the next group would name some without repeating any. Then the third. Some kid (they fought over who got to do this) wrote the answers on a modernized overhead projector-type thing. At the end, candy was rewarded (I think to everyone, and since sweets are strictly prohibited in our school district, all were sworn to secrecy).

The kids were enthusiastic and I actually learned something. The team part was fun. And you could just make up categories from their textbook ("Continental Congress," "Continental Shelf," "Continental Breakfast" or "Incontinence") and the kids would tell each other if they were wrong, so you wouldn't even have to know the answers! A version of Poorman's Trivia might work, also.

I know you were hoping for real boardgame suggestions, but with teaching time and choosing groups and noise levels and kids who won't play, you'd need some finesse to pull it off. Designing something re-usable for the overhead thing might be fun, a board or something cool, and you could borrow mechanics from games that you know (that are easy to catch on to). The classroom technology I saw would project anything, so you could show game cards or the board or both (no more transparencies with their smeary ink and boring format. I remember when pie charts were the ultimate in graphics.)

I'm not a teacher, but I have taught in chess camps, and can tell you that even groups of kids that know and love the game (and whose parents spent big bucks to send them there) were hard to handle. But good luck, I'm sure you'll figure out something fun that works for you and them.


 
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13. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:420] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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I once attended a three-day Chess in Education conference, and by the end of the weekend we had of course concluded that chess in schools was crucial for the future of U.S. education. If the kids know chess, just put some boards out and let them have at. They'll need to quit when time's up, but in our school cafeteria they weren't too worried about abandoning a game, and they would count points of the pieces to see who was ahead. Or they could play Quick Chess. You could get a demo board and teach the moves of the pieces. Or have beginners play the Pawn Game (pawns only). Or put up Mate in One puzzles. Who knows, you might get a kid into gaming this way. Or save the future of America.
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14. Board Game: Who Would Win [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:5285]
sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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This is a debate game. Two random cards are drawn and one is given to each player. For example, I just drew Batman and Donald Trump. Then an event card is drawn, and again for example I just pulled out Gardening. So it is "batman vs. Donald Trump in gardening." Each player has 30 seconds to argue why their person would win, and then the rest of the group votes on who made the best argument. The winner then gets the versus card as a point and two more people come up to play. The best part about this game in a school setting is that if you play it in a speech or communications class, it is actually relevant!
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15. Board Game: Quarto [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:819]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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Or other quick, abstract games. Quarto in particular is a popular game, easy to learn and addictive. The problem would be getting enough sets. You can use Set cards, actually (but then you'd need a lot of sets of Set). You can use attribute blocks (Math Pentathlon had a lot of games using them) or even playing cards. Or you could make some homemade "trial sets" (I have had kids successfully bug their parents to buy the $25 edition after playing at my house, so don't feel too guilty). I made a Gum vs Tootsie Roll chess set once (the Tootsie Roll pieces finally drooped but that bubble gum hardened into rock). I've made games from holiday decorations, buttons and cheap doo-dads. Get the kids to construct them, of course, unless you're extraordinarily devoted and well-paid.

There are some historical games sort of like tic-tac-toe with unusual designs and you're allowed to move the pieces around. Xerox some game boards, demo a game, sit back and relax referee. If it's a History class tell them the game is historical, if it's Science tell them it demonstrates scientific thinking, if it's Math tell them it's logic, and if it's Health tell them it's a germ-fighting simulation, a la Pandemic. If it's a music class, you're on your own.
 
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16. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:3209] [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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I know some people are sick of this or never liked it, but it was a huge hit with the afterschool program and for killing time between summer camp activities. One crate would probably supply enough for a class.
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17. Board Game: VisualEyes [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:10106]
Betty Dingus
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Austin
Texas
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This would work for a class by projecting on a wall. You don't have to keep score, either, it's just fun coming up with new combos. A kid comes up with a phrase, tells the dice they used, the rest of the class says yea (or nay), you remove those two dice. Repeat until bored or the bell rings.
 
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18. Board Game: Pictionary: Party Edition [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:9154]
Betty Dingus
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Austin
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Use whiteboards on opposite walls (with kids facing their team's board) or a board plus projector. You could make up suitable words (current event-related, nature, artifacts, S.A.T. vocabulary, or let the kids submit them).

I admit I am imagining a well-behaved and enthusiastic ideal classroom here. These ideas could be disasters. Like I just stopped myself from suggesting handing out those little cans of Playdoh and having pairs of kids play Cluzzle or Claymania guessing games. Could lead to mayhem.

But I do remember homeschool co-op groups getting excited about chalkboard Hangman at the end of class (one kid was obsessed with geography and would try to stump them). Group Catch Phrase! failed with the same kids because they'd accuse the others of being slow or giving lame clues. So you never know until you try. If it falls flat, odds are you won't sub for that same group for a long time anyway.
 
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19. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:1552] [Average Rating:6.34 Unranked]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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Many people find this word-building game an enjoyable, non-competitive activity. Syzygy, with 300 letter tiles is more economical, or use old Scrabble or Pick Two! tiles. One banana serves eight, though. Non-Spelling Bee champs can be paired up with others for cooperative word-building. Older kids should be told to keep it clean, but telling them that will just give them ideas.

Any letter set could be used for many games. Letter Head, for example, or Quiddler cards, can be used for Knizia's My Word!, which appeals to competitive types (you keep revealing letters till someone is the first to find a word and wins those cards). Smart Mouth is cool with its Letter Dispenser. You could also use letters to make (or be the initial letter of) words that fall into chosen categories, like Scattergories, Last Word, etc. The possibilities R endless.

A geeklist made by

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covers an astounding 150 separate but similar games -- check out
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/3908 [Scrabble Clone Wars]

 
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20. Board Game: DICEcapades [Average Rating:5.02 Overall Rank:15347]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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I haven't actually played any of the games, but with 133 dice I'm sure one or two are okay, or you can find something interesting online. Rolling dice is plain fun. With a few packs of Dollar Tree dice and a tube of paper cups you could play Liar's Dice. Add a few scoresheets and you've got Yahtzee. Different colors, multi-sided, dice within dice, 1d10-23 edgy and educational.

There are also number cards with lots of applications -- (No Thanks! and many others).
 
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21. Board Game: The Dictionary Game [Average Rating:4.54 Unranked]
Betty Dingus
United States
Austin
Texas
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It occurs to me that many classrooms have a class set of dictionaries, and that they could be used for a Balderdash-type parlor game. Such as Fictionary/Balderdash itself. Or a game where you read a word along with two wrong and one right definition from that same dictionary page and see if people guess the right one. Or pick a (vocabulary??) word and students write down 5 words that they think will be in the definition (like the taboo words in Taboo). These are revealed Scattergories-style (no repeats), after which the students read the definition and get a point for correct predictions. (Shades of Spinergy here.)

Or what have you. . .
--Fake etymologies.
--T/F: there are words that start with "Ws?"
--Use the bottom righthand words on three consecutive pages to make up a story.
--Tell your fortune, by having someone flip pages till you say stop, then you stab your finger somewhere on that page. (I have done this over the years when I pass a dictionary stand and it's amazing how often the word is relevant. I realize it's not educational, but it kinda is, in the same way you stretch your mind to find connections in Apples to Apples).
 
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22. Board Game: Jeopardy! [Average Rating:5.24 Overall Rank:14666]
M Hellyer
United States
Aurora
Illinois
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Write your own categories and questions.

Divide the class into 3 or 4 teams.

Have game boards pre-written in advance around the different subjects you might teach. Include categories about the school and the community.

Just write the categories and the dollar amounts on the blackboard.

Have a tape or mp3 ready to play at Final Jeopardy with the tv theme music.
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23. Board Game: Outburst! [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:4906]
M Hellyer
United States
Aurora
Illinois
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In OUTBURST players or teams have 30 seconds to shout out the answers to lists of 10. For History class you could have lists like the 1st 10 Presidents. For Geography have 10 States That Are On Oceans. For Math have 10 geometric shapes. For PE have 10 professional basketball teams. And so on. They get one point for each answer they shout out that is on the list.

Rule Suggestion: When one team's time is up, if they missed any possible answers give the other team(s) 15 seconds to come up with ONE guess at an answer the first team might have missed, and give the second team 2 points if they do think of one of the missed answers. This rule keeps the team(s) not actively playing that question to pay attention and as a reward, to possibly score two points as a bonus.

Like with the Jeopardy suggestion, have some lists (index cards for your own reference are perfect for this) regarding the school and community, such as 10 teachers' names, 10 local fast food restaurants, 10 streets near school, and so on.
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24. Board Game: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire [Average Rating:4.61 Overall Rank:15411]
M Hellyer
United States
Aurora
Illinois
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Plays the same as the TV show, except you can divide the class into 5 teams. Read each question and each team has 30 seconds to select their multiple choice response (A, B, C, D). You can have extra kids sit out so they can play the "Phone a Friend" or the "Ask the Audience" roles (or let a team text a friend the question, although that may disturb a friend in another class at that moment.) Anyway, this or the Jr. version can be adapted very nicely for the classroom. You can even write questions related to the school and the class. The team that goes the farthest (correctly answers the million dollar question or the closest one to it) gets some reward.
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