Have you ever finished a lesson early and wondered what to do with the class for the rest of the period? I usually have the opposite problem. I’m usually working my tail off trying to fit everything in. However, the Earth must have tilted on its axis the other day because I unexpectedly ended up with an extra 15 minutes of class time. Now what?? It took my students all of 2 seconds to suggest trashketball. They know I love it as much as they do. Many math reviews are painful, tedious, and slow. Trashketball, on the other hand, is effective, engaging, and keeps my students excited about learning. It also helps the time fly!
Setting Up Trashketball
This game is incredibly 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:
- 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 trash can. 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 trash can that was perfect. In my new classroom, I have a rectangular trash can which is not exactly ideal, but it works.
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.
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 against boys and I keep score by putting tally marks on my dry erase board. As an alternative, you can have the students keep the 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.
- First, I show the class a problem and everyone works it. This is non-negotiable – it doesn’t matter to me whose turn it is.
- 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.
- If the answer is correct, their team gets a point and that student gets the chance to shoot the ball into the trash can.
- If a basket is made, then the team gets another point.
- Play continues until we run out of time.
I’ll be honest – my kids have the potential to get out of hand while playing this game. 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 to play this game all year long and you won’t mind giving in occasionally.