Sometimes there's no other way of getting pupils to calm down and focus on the matter in hand than playing a few games to get rid of their excess energy. Games can also be used to explain obscure concepts and theories that can be hard to grasp, particularly for those students who struggle to get good results in the subject.
It's always a good idea to kick off the new year, new term or new semester with a few icebreaker games, particularly if any new students have joined the class or if it's a first year class. This is likely to see the kids instantly take a shine to the teacher and the subject, heightening their interest in attending future classes.
But don't jump into the deep end straight away. Making kids carry out problem solving games too soon could do more harm than good to group dynamics and the overall atmosphere in class. Start with lighthearted games and quizzes that aren't overly competitive and focused on winning. And always make sure you debrief the group if any conflict has arisen or if you feel someone has been left out.
There is vast potential for fun and games in language classes. In many cases, printing texts is the only form of preparation you need to carry out. For example, a great game is to print out popular poems or book extracts, handing one to each pupil in the class. Request a volunteer to be the conductor of the group, and make your students develop their own sign language to indicate what tone of voice and level of volume they should be reading at. Once this has been determined, the conductor can lead the class in a textual chorus.
Alternatives include quizzes on grammar and popular literature, and spelling bees.
Maths and Science
It's well worth easing students into science and maths subjects gradually. Introducing them to formulae and complex concepts from day one is more likely to scare the class rather than intrigue them.
Make your students count from 1 to 100 as fast as possible, do the times table backwards, or think of 100 things to do with an object such as a test tube or a ruler in a set period of time.
At a later stage, geometry puzzles can greatly help illustrate mathematical ideas and concepts, or you could do science experiments such as building a fruit battery or solar cooker.
Remember, though games are highly enjoyable, it's very important to strike a balance between fun and seriousness so as not to harm your authority in the eyes of your students.