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May 20, 2015 End-of-Year Minute to Win It Games By Lindsey Petlak
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    It’s the end of the year, and that means many things, one of which (fortunately) is celebrating! Last year my class celebrated the end of the school year with our kindergarten buddies with Minute to Win It games and had fabulous fun! Whether you’re adding these to your existing countdown celebration days or using them as a backup in case your outdoor field day gets canceled due to weather, they are quick, easy, cheap or free, and sure to please kiddos of all ages and teachers alike!


    Inspired by the popular TV show, creating and implementing Minute to Win It games in the classroom is a snap! A quick search on the Internet will pull up endless options, and fellow Top Teaching blogger Brian Smith offers great ideas in his previous blog post too. However, all you really need to do to get started is to look around your classroom to get ideas! Last year my buddy teaching partner and I did just that and came up with the following favorite Minute to Win It games:

    • Moving Nerds With Tweezers: Using tweezers (plastic or metal) and Nerds candy, students move Nerds individually from one pile on a paper plate to an empty paper plate. The team with the most Nerds on the transfer plate after one minute wins!

    • Another version of this game (that you see below) involves having students separate two (or more) colors of mixed Nerds candy into different cups or plates. Check to make sure the colors aren't mixed, and count the totals in each cup for the grand total of Nerds separated. The team with the most correctly separated candies wins!


    • Marble Tube Targets: Students use a flexible plastic tube to aim the path of marbles at targets (we used plastic people game pieces). The first team to knock down all of their targets or the team with most targets knocked over after a minute wins!


    • Marshmallow Catapults: Have students use Genia Connell’s instructions for constructing a catapult for each team. Then set up the completed catapults at one end of your playing area and buckets or bowls at the opposite end. Student teams shoot miniature marshmallows into the buckets/bowls. The team with the most marshmallows in their bucket at the end of one minute wins!


    • Plastic Cup Tower Stack: This one is SO SIMPLE! Students use plastic cups to build a freestanding tower. At the end of a minute, the team with the tallest freestanding structure wins!


    • Bean Straw Suction Transfer: Grab a bag or two of any type of dried bean. Pour a pile of dried beans onto the plate of each team. Teams need a second empty plate, placed right next to the plate with beans. Finally, each team member needs a straw. Students suck up a bean onto the end of their straw, and release it onto the empty plate. Then the next person takes a turn. The team with the most beans on the transfer plate after a minute wins! (Obviously, the straw should not be one of the large sizes that could accidentally suck a bean through it!)



    Tips and Tricks:

    • Have your STUDENTS create games! After students get a feel for how Minute to Win It games are set up and played, have THEM take a look around your classroom and create games for the class to play. Make sure they include materials needed, procedure, rules, object, and parameters for winning.

    • Fun Clean Up/Out: Believe it or not, this can be a great (and fun) way to clean up and clean out at the end of the school year. The materials we used for our games were all things leftover from previous activities throughout the year. We used up the excess with our games and then they were discarded or recycled after use. It ended up cleaning out much of our clutter at a critical time of the year!

    • Send home game materials: Want to clean out even more and continue the fun at home? Using either games that you created for your students or challenges they make up themselves, place the materials and instructions in a baggie, send home, and encourage students/parents/siblings to play the game(s) together for homework that evening.



    • 21st Century Skills: Students engage in all four “C’s” of 21st century learning: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

    • STEM: These games are great examples of simple, engaging STEM activities.

    • Executive Functioning: Due to the elements of planning, teamwork, and time limits, students must utilize executive functioning skills to best participate and compete.

    • Character Building: Students must employ patience, persistence, teamwork, kindness, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship during these games.

    Have a blast with these hands-on, engaging Minute to Win It games as part of your end-of-the-year festivities. Looking ahead, try sprinkling these games throughout the entire school year since they are so quick, easy, fun, and beneficial. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!


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