Primary school aged children love to play Simon Says and the game is a great way to hold their attention and keep them from being restless during periods where they have to sit still and wait for several minutes. But the game is useful to teachers in many other ways as well.
Almost everyone understands how to play Simon Says. The leader says “Simon says touch your nose,” and the group does it. After a couple of other tasks the leader says “clap your hands.” Because he or she didn’t say “Simon says clap your hands” any child who clapped is now out of the game.
Simon Says in the classroom teaches children to pay attention and follow directions while having fun. They see remaining in the game as not getting tricked by the teacher into doing something. This means that the teacher leading the game has to be quick on the draw with the “Simon says do this” tasks. If there is any lag in the game it allows children to think about what you have said before they respond.
A rapid fire of Simon Says commands that are repetitive followed by one that doesn’t include the words “Simon says…” is the key to keeping the game moving and tricking up crafty students who think they won’t make a mistake and respond to the wrong task.
Here is an example:
Simon Says touch your nose.
Simon Says put both hands on your hips.
Simon Says put your hands on your head.
Simon Says put your hands or your hips.
Simon Says put your hands on your head
Put your hands on your hips.
When dealing with hyper kids Simon Says is an opportunity to move around a bit and get rid of some of their nervous energy before getting back to the academic lesson. The game is also a good idea for days when the weather prevents children from enjoying recess outdoors. Because the game allows children to move around you can use Simon Says as a means to low scale physical education.
Here is an example:
Simon Says reach for the sky
Simon Says touch your toes.
Simon Says stand up.
Now touch your nose.
Simon Says look to the right.
Simon Says look to the left
Simon Says point to the sky
Point to the floor.
The idea is to use Simon Says to allow your students to get a little exercise without knowing that is what they are doing. When they burn up a little energy playing the game over five or ten minutes they are more likely to sit calmly, pay attention and stay on task.
Simon Says can also be used to get children to transition from one activity to another or from working to lining up. In this instance, you are not trying to “trick” them or catch them off guard. You are getting them to respond positively to being asked to do what you want them to such as standing, pushing in their chairs and walking to the door to lineup. Of course, you can always spend a minute or two just playing the game for fun first.
Using games with active play like Simon Says with your students helps keep coming to school interesting and fun when mixed in between periods of academic learning. Kids have a hard time sitting still in their seats for long periods of time so the game also gives them an opportunity to move around a little and get the fidgets out of their system.