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Ms. McMorrow, Ms McLoughlin, Ms. Markey and Mr. Enright attended the ‘Smart Teachers Play More’ course in Iceland earlier this year.
This course provided the teachers with excellent ideas to incorporate play and gamification techniques into their classrooms in simple, yet effective ways.
One of these techniques, learning through movement games, is outlined below, and can be adapted and changed to suit any class level!

Movement games (main resources are 5 hula hoops, 1 in the centre and 4 surrounding).
An important aspect of these activities is for each group to choose different walks/movements to move in and out to the centre hoop, introducing fun movements to the activity.

Move to the middle – this activity uses magnetic letters, 1 hula hoop in the middle and 4 hula hoops surrounding it. The class are split into 4 teams.
Place many magnetic letters in the centre hula hoop. The group decides on a travel mode to travel to the centre hoop, and a second one to travel back to their group. The group take turns to travel to the centre hoop and select one letter. They return to their group and place the letter in their hoop. The aim of the activity is to form as many words as they can using the letters they have collected. They write their words on a whiteboard.

Another variation of the same game is to use numbers instead of letters. The aim this time is to practise addition and to reach the target number of 70. Travel movements are also used in this activity.                                                                                  The first person in the group does their chosen travel movement to go to the hula hoop in the centre. They chose 2 numbers, for example they choose 4 and 8. They return to the group using another travel movement. Then they write a number sentence e.g. 4 + 8 = 12. The next person chooses 1 number, e.g. 3. They then write their number sentence 12 + 3 = 15. The game continues until a group reaches 70. The last person needs to be aware of the number they choose, if the group total is 65 they need to choose 5 to win the game.

A third variation of the game is to use country flags and facts. Place a flag in each hula hoop. Each team must come up with 4 facts that are specific to their country, e.g. a famous person from the country, a famous landmark or a city etc. When the team has written their 4 facts for their specific country, they fold them up and put them into the centre hula hoop. They then move to a different groups’ hula hoop where they are now focused on a new country. This means they do not know the facts that another team has written about this country, so it adds an additional challenge. The team chooses a travel mode to travel to and return from the centre. One person from each team travels to the centre hoop. They choose a fact and must decide if it belongs to their country. If it does, they bring it back to their group and put it in the hula hoop. If the fact does not belong to their country, they fold it up and put it back in the hoop and they return to their group. It is important to remind the children that they can only read one fact per turn. Music can be played while the children are completing this activity. The team that matches their 4 facts to their country wins. Ask the children to read out the facts about their countries at the end of the activity.
*Extra challenge – the children can have a choice to steal facts from other groups, rather than travelling to the middle.