The Block Game Your Students Will Beg To Play


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Hi everybody! I’ve been thinking back to old games I played as a kid. Who remembers playing Jenga? Anyone remember that silly commercial from the 80s that showed the lady playing and saying, “Jeng-A, Jeng-A!” as she tried to pick a piece? That always cracked me up. If you don’t remember it, take a silly little trip down memory lane if you have an extra thirty seconds.

I’ve seen teachers use tumbling tower blocks in a variety of ways in the classroom, but I whenever I saw examples, the blocks were written on with marker. I wanted to have a set I could reuse in a variety of ways. What to do? I began a search and what what did I find?  In comes…wait for the it…one of the best inventions for teachers. DRY ERASE TAPE. Seriously, this is a thing of beauty. What teachers don’t love anything that says ‘dry erase’ on it? When I found dry erase tape,  I literally said, “Where have you been all my life?” The uses for dry erase tape are endless!

This was just the tool I needed to create my reusable, tumbling-tower, blocks game! I’m going to show you how I made it, and how to play. Once you make them, you can use them for any game you’d like. I chose to use them to practice reading VCe words.

What you’ll need:
-A set of Jenga blocks or tumbling tower blocks
dry-erase tape
-baking sheet
-storage container for the blocks

Time to make: 30-40 minutes (add a few hours for drying time)

When you first take the blocks out, they look like this. I decided to spread them out on a baking sheet, cut pieces of dry erase tape to fit and stick on the tops of the blocks. Now here’s a little bit of a kicker. I noticed the tape didn’t stick very well to wood. Did it stick to other surfaces? YES. So do not fret. I wanted mine to last a long time, so I decided to apply a thin layer of glue on top of each block. You don’t need any fancy, shmancy craft glue. White school glue works fine. After you apply the glue, just peel off the backing of the dry erase tape, and stick it onto the top of the block. Just use a thin layer. You don’t want a lot of glue oozing out the sides. I let them dry for a few hours on the baking sheet. By the way, this is a great little project for some middle/high school helpers or parent helpers. (hint, hint)

Now comes the fun part! I really wanted some oral reading practice built into my VCe review game. I had been using materials from my VCe Bundle and was looking to practice reading lots of VCe words. I used words my my level one Orton-Gillingham words and sentences. These are also in my VCe bundle. My student has all their word lists glued into a notebook. You can read more about how I use an OG notebook by clicking here.

I selected the VCe words and wrote them in a thin dry erase marker. I will caution you that the marker may wipe off in the stacking and pulling part of the game. It was pretty minimal though. If this bugs you, you can use wet erase markers like Vis-A-Vis. Words written with wet erase markers will stay put until you wipe it with a damp cloth.

We stacked the blocks in threes until we had a complete tower. Here are the game rules:
1. Pull out one block anywhere in the tower. ( I allowed a little bit of light tapping for loose blocks.)
2. Read the word out loud.
3. Re-stack that block on top to create a new row.
4. Switch turns. Now your partner repeats directions 1-3.
5. Keep playing until the tower falls down.

Check out how the tower came out when we played!

As you can tell from the last photo I took, we made it pretty far before the tower toppled! Did I chant, “Jeng-A, Jeng-A,” while I played? You bet. Did my student look at me a little strangely when I said it? Possibly. Oh well. It’s not 1987 anymore. 😉 This game was so motivating and had valuable practice time, too. What I win/win! I can’t wait to use it again and again. Please don’t feel limited to only using these reusable stacking tower blocks for a reading station. They could work well for math too! How would you use this set? Please comment below!

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One Comment

  1. I love this idea, Emily! I noticed the words were beginning to rub off a little. (which is fine especially if you use the game for other students who need different spelling patterns). Did they remain in tact until the end? Also, was the tape expensive/inexpensive and readily available?

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