I love Minute-to-Win-It games. A few years ago, I even planned a whole "Christmas Minute-to-Win-It Day" where each adult came over with a game idea of their own and a small amount for the Prize Pot. We didn't exchange gifts that year (except for the lucky person... my sister... who won the prize money). Instead, our gifts were memories... it was so fun!
These short games are fun in the classroom, too, and you only need a few supplies for each. Consider asking your students' parents for donations. Many parents love to help out in this way!
For this game you will need rainbow-colored candy, paper plates, straws, and plastic cups. In my classroom, children sit in small teams of 4-5 students, so we play this game in our small groups. Give each team one plate of candy and one plastic cup per color of candy. (In the example above, each team needs five cups because there are five different colors of candy.) Separate the empty cups and place them in the center of each group. Put one different colored candy in each cup so there is a cup for each color. Give each child one straw and decide which child in each group will go first. On "Go!," the first player uses their straw to suck one piece of candy to the end of their straw. They have to maintain suction through the straw and drop the candy into the plastic cup that matches that color. If it drops too soon or is dropped into the wrong cup, the child has to keep trying and put it into the correct cup. Players cannot move the candy or the cups with their hands. The game continues to the left until the minute is over. The team with the most pieces of candy in the plastic cups wins.
• lengthen the time limit
• play in pairs to increase student engagement
• use plastic tweezers instead of straws
The Lucky Charm Challenge
This game has simple directions, but it's challenging for little hands. Place a bucket of Lucky Charms™ cereal in the middle of each group of kids and give each child a clothespin. In one minute, how many lucky marshmallow charms can they stack on top of each other? Although they're sharing the bucket of cereal, this is a solo game... player against player. They may not touch the cereal with their hands and if their stack falls down before a minute is called, they need to start over. The player with the tallest stack of charms at the end is the winner. Have more time? Put them back in the bucket and play again!
• use fingers to make it simpler for young children
• or use chopsticks to increase the level of difficulty
• pick a flatter object to stack, such as gold Rolo™ candies or gold coins
Disclaimer: This game takes more than a minute, but it's so fun... and smart!
In this game, the children will be shuffling from one side of the room to the other, so you may need to move a little bit of furniture (or play outside). You will need one large sturdy shamrock and a set of letter cards per group. The letter cards should be the same for each group and should spell a secret holiday-themed word when arranged correctly. In the example above, the cards spell out shamrock, but you could also do clover, leprechaun, gold, rainbow, etc. Choose a word that's developmentally appropriate for your age group. Line children up in teams at the starting line. On the other side of the room (opposite each team), place the mixed up cards in a pile. There should be one set of cards for each team. Give the first child in each line a large shamrock. On "Go!," the first person in each line puts the shamrock between their knees and shuffles to their pile to get one card. If the shamrock falls, the child has to stop and put it back between their knees without moving forward. When they're back at the starting line, they have to pass the shamrock to the next person in line WITHOUT using their hands... the challenge is to pass it knees-to-knees. If it falls, the first child puts it back between his knees and tries to pass it again. After it has been passed, the first child goes to the back of the line and the next child shuffles to get another letter for the secret word. When all the letter cards have been retrieved, the group works together to figure out the secret holiday word. The first team to do this is the winner.
• increase the time limit
• shorten the walk
• pass off the shamrock using hands
• spell known sight words instead of holiday words
Pots of Gold
This is a game where blindfolded students use their sense of touch to fill their team's pot with "gold." Ahead of time, prepare a small paper or plastic bag for each team. Place 20 pieces of one kind of gold-wrapped candy, such as Kisses™ or Rolo™ candies, into each bag. (Please be aware of student allergies in your classroom.) Then fill the rest of each bag with "distractors," such as pom poms, marbles, coins, etc. On the day of the game, you will need a blindfold for each student. Each team will need one empty pot and their bag of candy & "stuff." To play, have small groups of 3-4 students sit in tight circles on the floor. Show them the contents of the bags so they're familiar with the items inside. Then have them place their blindfolds securely over their eyes. Give an empty bucket and a bag of candy to one child in each group. On "Go!," the first child in each group reaches inside the bag, feels around for one piece of the gold candy, and places it in the empty bucket. When it's in the bucket, the child says, "I got it! I'm passing it!," and then passes the bucket and bag to the player on the left. Play continues in this manner until time is called. At the end of the game, the kids can take off their blindfolds and count the number of gold candies in their team's bucket. The team with the most pieces of candy in their bucket is the winner.
• increase the playing time
• put tougher distractors in each bag, such as other types of candy
• use dark bags and skip the blindfolds
• or pass the bags behind backs and skip the blindfolds
Happy teaching! :)