Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Playing Group Games from the Past
Lesson 5
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Can playing games together help to build unity in our classroom and school community? The students will compare games played by children in the past to today’s games. There will be an emphasis on how games of the past included much more togetherness and cooperation as compared to the individuality of today’s popular video and computer games. Children will learn to play some games from the past and then share these with another class in the school, playing with them as a community.


Four Thirty-Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • identify games played today.
  • plot on a timeline the origin of some popular games.
  • compare the cooperation involved in games of the past versus today’s games.
  • teach games to another group of students in the school.
  • discuss how games promote unity in the community.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

Students teach other students how to play some cooperative games, thus building a sense of community in the school.


  • Chart paper or board
  • Picture Cards for Timeline (Attachment One)
  • Timeline made on butcher paper (use Attachment Two as a reference)
  • Rules for Three Games (Attachment Three)
  • Any materials necessary to play the games chosen
Handout 1
Picture Cards for Timeline
Handout 2
History of Games Timeline
Handout 3
Rules for Three Group Games

Instructional Procedure(s):

Day One:

Anticipatory Set:

Begin this lesson with the students gathering together on the floor or rug area. Tell them that you are going to play a game that children have been playing for many years. It is called "I Spy." Ask whether anyone has ever played it. Explain the rules and play several times, giving several children a chance to choose and guess the item. Game procedure: The leader chooses an object in the room and gives a hint about it, such as its color. For example "I spy something red." The students may raise their hands and ask questions about it or try to guess what it is. If they can guess within five tries (count their questions and guesses), the class gets 4 points. If they guess within 10 tries, they get 3 points. If they guess within 15 tries, they earn 2 points. If they guess within 20 tries, they earn 1 point. If the class cannot guess the object by 20 tries, then you tell the object and they get no points. The person who guesses the object correctly gets to pick the next object.

  • Talk about what skills the students needed to play that game (listening, thinking, taking turns, patience, logic and kindness). Tell the students that they worked as a team to play that game. This is a game that builds unity and a sense of community.

  • Have children brainstorm a list of video or computer games that they know. Write their list on chart paper or the board. Ask the students what skills are needed for playing these computer/video games. Ask the students whether the games are played alone or with others. Put a checkmark by the games that require teamwork.

  • Tell the students that you would like them to help you make a list of games that build community or teamwork skills rather than encourage children to play alone. Remind the students of the definition of community they came up with in Lesson Two: United We Stand. Discuss how playing games can build a community. (They have to work together to play.)

  • Write down the list of games they come up with (board games, word games, outdoor games, etc.) Indicate on their list which games you (the teacher) played when you were a child.
  • Have the children tell one person near them a favorite game they like to play with others that is not a video or computer game. They should also tell why they like it.

Day Two:

  • Display the large timeline and explain that it shows the years when certain things happened in order. A timeline helps you picture how long ago things happened and the amount of time between them. Point to the right end and explain that this is the present year. Next, read the years that are listed on the rest of the timeline and estimate which were the years that their parents were children (e.g. 1970s, 1980s), when their grandparents were children (1950s, 1960s), and when their great-grandparents were children (1930s, 1940s). Label these groups on the timeline.

  • Show each picture card and ask the children to try to guess where on the timeline the "game" should go: when it was invented/introduced (or in the case of the TV, when it became popular). Let the students tape the pictures by the years they were invented. Use Attachment Two: History of Games Timeline as a reference.

  • When the timeline is complete, ask the children to tell about what they see. Use some guiding questions such as: What kinds of things do you think your parents played with? What about grandparents? Did your great-grandparents have video games? TV? What do you think they did for fun?

  • Close with telling the children that they will be learning some games from the past and then sharing these games with another class in the school. Have the class add to the definition of community that they created in Lesson Two: United We Stand to include how playing games with schoolmates develops unity in their community.

Day Three:

In advance, choose some group games to teach the class. They do not have to be games that include the whole class, but they should require cooperation. Some suggestions include blind man’s bluff; heads up, seven up; SPUD; duck, duck, goose; statues; marbles; mother may I?; hot potato; Simon says or any game you loved to play! See Bibliographical References for books and Internet sites with games.

  • Ask children to explain why it is important to know and follow the rules when playing a game (so everyone knows what to do, so everyone gets along, gets a turn). Ask what would happen if there were no rules (people would fight, they would not have fun).

  • Over the next few days, teach the students two or three group games, one game at a time. You may choose to have the rules of each game listed on chart paper so that they can be referred to. Play the games several times to allow children to become very familiar with the rules.

Day Four:

In advance, arrange with another classroom—either the same grade level or lower—to have your class come in and teach the games you have been playing to those students.

  • Gather the children together to review the games that they have learned. Talk about which were their favorites and why. Discuss the rules and practices that make the games run smoothly. Discuss ways they learned to get along, solve problems and make the game more fun. Come to a consensus about which game or games they would like to teach to another class.

  • Tell the students that in order to promote unity in the school community, they will be teaching a group game (or two) to another class. Ask them what they can do or say to introduce this idea to that class (explain the rules so they know how to play; encourage cooperation; share hints about solving problems; give examples of things you can say to a teammate, like "Good job" or "You can do it").

  • Assign roles or guide students to choose roles for teaching the other class about the game and cooperative behavior. They may introduce the games in small groups or to the whole class. Practice their roles before you go to the other class.

  • Play the group game(s) with the other class.

  • When the children return from playing the game(s) with their schoolmates, have them reflect on how they enhanced unity in their school community. This reflection may take the form of a picture with a written (or dictated) sentence.


  • Observe the children to assess their use of cooperation when playing. Are students able to explain the rules of games and follow them? Are they able to teach the games to others successfully? Do they seem to value the sense of unity in the classroom and school community?
  • Evaluate the students’ reflection drawings and writings for the child’s awareness and understanding of unity.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

  • Have children conduct a survey of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents (if possible) to see what games they played when they were young. Tally and graph the results back at school.
  • Children can use this information to create a Venn diagram of shared games. Write on cards the names of the games from the survey and from Day One brainstorming. Label the circles of the diagram "Games Played Today" and "Games Played Long Ago." Students place the cards in the correct circles. Games played long ago and today go in the intersection of the circles. This can be done as a whole class, small groups or individually depending on the readiness of the students.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Beth Glascock
Kalamazoo Public Schools
Spring Valley Elementary School
Kalamazoo, MI 49009


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Picture Cards for Timeline










Handout 2Print Handout 2

History of Games Timeline

Pick Up Sticks
Native American

Tiddly Winks

Hasbro, Inc.

Candy Land©
Milton Bradley


Nintendo of America, Inc.

Game Boy©
Nintendo Of America, Inc.















Handout 3Print Handout 3

Rules for Three Group Games

Blind Man’s Bluff

For three or more players Ages 5 and up Materials: one blindfold

How to play:

    1. Decide who will be IT first.
    2. The IT is blindfolded and spun around a few times and then stopped.
    3. The others gather around IT and make funny noises or call the IT’s name.
    4. IT tries to tag another player.
    5. First person tagged is now IT and game starts again.


Best with a large group Ages 5 and up Materials: one playground ball

How to play:

    1. All players are assigned a number which they must remember.
    2. One player is chosen to be IT first.
    3. IT throws the ball high up into the air and calls out another player’s number. Everybody runs away except for the player with that number who must run to catch the ball.
    4. When s/he gets the ball, s/he calls, "Spud" very loudly and everybody freezes where they are.
    5. The player with the ball may take four big steps towards any player and throw the ball at him/her (below the waist). A player that is hit by the ball becomes the new IT. If no one is hit, the player who called "Spud" is IT again. Repeat steps 3-5.

Heads up, Seven Up

Best with a large group Great indoors on a rainy day

How to play:

    1. Choose seven students to stand in front of the class.
    2. The rest of the students put their heads down on their desks with their thumbs up. No peeking allowed!
    3. Each of the seven standing students pushes down the thumb of one sitting student. (This student keeps his/her thumb down so no one else pushes it.)
    4. When all seven students have touched a thumb and have returned to the front of the class, they call out "heads up, seven up."
    5. The seven tagged students stand up. They each get one chance to guess who touched their thumb.
    6. If a student guesses correctly, he/she gets to stand up for the next round. The person who touched his/her thumb sits down. Repeat steps 2-6.

Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Unity in the Community Summary


United We Are
United We Stand
The Family as a Community
Playing Group Games from the Past
Make-It, Take-It Family Night

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