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Why games matter

I read a stat once that claimed children laugh up to 300 times a day. Adults, on the other hand, hit only a meager 15. 


I couldn’t believe it —which, when reading alleged statistics on the internet, is a good policy. But the validity of the stat wasn’t the issue. “In 24 hours, I only laugh 15 times?” 


The thought certainly did nothing to help me reach my quota for the day. It was depressing. Now, I know, as a grown-up, I’ll never again be as excited as, say, when my daughter stuffed a popsicle full of mini Oreos. And since Amazon doesn’t carry medical-grade nitrous oxide I had to challenge that gloomy little number 15 some other way. 


So I started playing more games in class, not just kiddy classes but in every class. Sometimes it was just a brief warm-up game. Sometimes we played a board game parallel to the lesson. Sometimes a you-survived-a-sadistic-vocabulary-test-so-here’s-your-reward game at the end. 


In every case, the environment of the classroom improved. The students’ minds became more relaxed, more limber. Kids got excited to play and even when it stopped, responded quicker and took out their textbooks just a bit faster. Smiles appeared on adult students, the genki and grumpy alike. And running counter to all known scientific facts, an actual real-world emotional response was elicited from one of my jr. high school students.


Of course, “Breaking News: Games are Fun!” isn’t exactly a headline. Still, I’ve found it often gets lost in the psychology. We well meaning teachers know that games develop social skills, communication and collaboration. They bring cognitive benefits such as sharpening memory, attention, problem solving and analytical skills. Engaging in games and other forms of play can even lower the risk of mental diseases. Yet for all those education board-certified enticements, don’t forget the reason games really matter. 


Play up the fun in your next class and see how far you can take that 15 for a climb.

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2 Responses to Why games matter

  1. Eugene Kunkle


    This message is for Christopher Kavanaugh.
    My name is Eugene Kunkle and I have taught English to children in Korea and Japan for more than 6 years. Despite this experience I have had, I kindly would like to know if Christopher happened to have his games he has used in his classes available in written form, such as PDF or Word? I am not good at creating games, and I don’t have much experience in playing many games.

    Any help I would greatly appreciate!

    Eugene Kunkle

  2. Eugene,

    I’ve been working hard for a while to get some of my best games ready for everyone to enjoy. I hope to make it a second business in addition to my school.

    Recently I launched a site with some of them. You can check out the games here:

    Hope you enjoy them!

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