I have an RE cupboard stocked with puzzles and games from this company. The students love to arrive in class and find a metal boggler, crazy squares puzzle or topple tree waiting to be completed. Why? What possible part do such games have to play in lessons? Well take your pick;

– Skills transferred from the puzzle problem to the lesson objectives

-Concepts illustrated through the puzzles themselves rather like 3D analogies

– Or meta-cognitive discussions generated from the puzzle that can be applied during the rest of the lesson.

Here are a couple of practical examples; in a lesson with year 7 looking at the Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe the students arrive to find metal puzzles on their desk. That is two pieces of metal linked together to solve the puzzle they have to seperate the two pieces. After two minutes some success achieved. We can then describe the puzzle and ask the question what is an analogy and how does this puzzle give us a visual image of an analogy. Answer = one story illustrating a deeper second meaning. Our task is to see and draw out or separate the hidden meaning. This will require concentration and the ability to view the story from a different perspective, in this case a Christian perspective. A nice five minute dialogue.

Stacking chairs is a team game. We play in fours and in this case the aim in 2 minutes is to stack all the mini plastic chairs onto one single one without the whole lot falling down. Can be used at start of lesson that is looking at forgiveness and Christianity, or Christian beliefs about salvation. Having attempted the game all groups are likely to have had fallen chairs and tried various strategies. Next task on white boards ask students to make links between the building and forgiveness/human relationships/ God and humans. This will throw up some great thinking by them and lead nicely into exploring what links a Christian may make. For example Christianity’s teaching on the inability of humans to reach God due to sinfulness or the necessity for forgiveness within human relationships that allows broken relationships to be rebuilt.

The possibilities are numerous, the students enjoy the play, and the learning is a natural  element of this. Planned and directed these games and puzzles can be superb tools in the RE classroom.


About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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