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Trashketball – A Review Game My Students Love

trashketball review game can be played with a ball and trashcan in the classroom

Have you ever finished a lesson early and wondered what to do with the class for the rest of the period? This doesn’t happen to me very often. I usually have the opposite problem. I’m usually working my tail off trying to fit everything in. However, the other day the Earth must have tilted on its axis, because I unexpectedly ended up with and extra 15 minutes of class time. Now what?? It took one of my students all of 2 seconds to suggest trashketball. Not only is it one of my favorites, trashketball is a student approved review game that keeps my class excited about learning. We had already played it this year, so my students knew all about it.

Setting Up Trashketball

This game is easy to set up. I can have the game set up and ready to go in less than 3 minutes. Here’s what you need:

  • trashcan
  • ball
  • questions
  • a way to keep score


I keep an old rubber ball in my class just for this purpose. It’s not anything fancy and half the time the ball is flat. Seriously, the ball is so flat that it won’t roll, but that doesn’t matter.


We play the game with our regular classroom trashcan. I don’t even bother to empty out the trash because we’re in a hurry to get the game started. I used to have a nice, big, round trashcan that was perfect. In my new classroom, I have a rectangular trashcan which is not exactly ideal, but it works.

using digital task cards to play trashketball review game
Using Boom Learning cards in FastPin mode to play trashketball.


For the questions, I use something I can access quickly. You know that when you’re digging around looking for something special, the kids get antsy. If you’re playing this game as a time filler, the key is to get the game started as quickly as possible. One of my favorite resources is to use Boom Learning cards in FastPin mode. You can learn about using these digital task cards in this post. Other options would be to use task cards that you have handy, vocabulary words you’ve been studying, or just make up your own problems to write on the board. If you teach 3rd grade, Schoolhouse Diva has some STAAR prep task cards that are amazing! I use these all the time when preparing for state testing.

Keeping Score

I don’t do anything fancy or cute when it comes to teams and scoring. I make an effort to get the game started as quickly as possible. We usually play girls and against boys and I keep score by putting tally marks on my dry erase board. As an alternative, you can have the students keep score at their desks.

How I Play Trashketball

There are different variations of this game out there. This is what it looks like in my room.

  1. First, I show the class a problem and everyone works it. This is nonnegotiable – it doesn’t matter to me whose turn it is.
  2. I call on a student from the first team to share the answer. There are usually plenty of volunteers. I try to play enough rounds that everyone has a chance to answer, but I don’t put pressure on anyone to answer. Some kids just don’t like shooting baskets in front of the class. No biggie.
  3. If the answer is correct, their team gets a point and that student gets the chance to shoot the ball into the trash can.
  4. If a basket is made, then the team gets another point.
  5. Play continues until we run out of time.

Maintaining Control

I’ll be honest – even though trashketball is a review game, my kids get really excited about this game and they have the potential to get out of hand. For my sanity, I added a new rule to the game and it has been a lifesaver! Here’s the magical rule: If you talk, the other team gets a point. It’s so simple, but highly effective! With this rule, I learned that my kids have a lot more self-control than I realized.

Reasons to Play Trashketball

  • Students are happy and engaged.
  • The game takes little preparation.
  • The talking rule makes behavior management a breeze.

Trashketball is a review game that your students are going to love. If you’ve never played before, you HAVE to give it a try! Your students will beg you play this game all year long.

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