Do you use Kaboom! in your classroom? It has been my go-to center for the past few years, whether I’m teaching Firsties, or now third graders. If Kaboom! is new to you, or it is something you haven’t yet tried in your classroom, here are some great reasons to give it a try:
- It is highly engaging
- It lasts for as long as you need it to!
- It can accommodate nearly ANY content area/targeted skill!
- It is quick to prep!
- It costs next to nothing to make!
When I was first introduced to this game by a dear, sweet teacher friend, I didn’t believe it! “You mean there’s a game out there that can last an entire center rotation, isn’t hard to make, can be used anywhere in my curriculum, and won’t break the bank? Yeah right!”
Well, I was happily proved wrong! My teacher friend broke the game down for me, and I was amazed at it’s simplicity and brilliance.
Let’s Break It Down:
Step 1: Identify the Content or Targeted Skill You Want to Focus On
When I say that I find a way to use Kaboom! to teach/review EVERY content area, or any targeted skill, I’m totally serious! I have used it to teach all of the following concepts (plus about a million quite a few more!)
- One More/One Less and Ten More/Ten Less
- Addition/Subtraction (fact fluency, missing addends, combinations to ten…etc.)
- Greater Than/Less Than (with whole numbers and fractions)
- Identifying Fractions (including unit fractions & mixed fractions)
- Multiplication facts
- Place Value
- Jumps on the Hundred Chart
- Estimation (estimating the sum of two 3-digit numbers)
- Translating standard form into expanded form
SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES Kaboom:
- Defining Key Terms/Vocabulary
- True/False Statements
- Time Line- Which Happened First?
- Letter Identification
- Phonics (short vowel, long vowel, silent e, vowel teams…etc.)
- Sight Words
- Rhyming/Word Families
- Parts of Speech
- How Many Syllables?
- Vocabulary Definitions
- Text Features
- Genre Definitions
- Story Elements
Step 2: Grab Yourself Some Popsicle Sticks
Trust me when I say that I have tried MANY different types of popsicle sticks, and your selection really does make a difference! I thought I was being really clever when I was first starting to use this game in my classroom. I bought a huge box of popsicle sticks from an arts and crafts store, because they were so much cheaper to buy in bulk! Well… I was completely wrong, and here’s why:
- Not all popsicle sticks were straight/flat, which makes it hard when you are trying to attach anything to them. Also, when they aren’t straight it makes it difficult to write words or math sentences!
- Not all had smooth edges. Can you say splinters?!?
- The wood is often different shades. This may not seem like a big deal, but kids are clever and will memorize which popsicle sticks have Kaboom!
I prefer to use the wide popsicle sticks, because they make it easier to write legibly, and provide a larger surface area for gluing (i.e. they stick longer!)
I also loved using colored craft sticks because it helps give me some natural organization!
When I taught Firsties, I loved using Kaboom! to help my kiddos practice short vowel sounds. The colored sticks were perfect for keeping the games separated.
- RED sticks for SHORT A
- ORANGE sticks for SHORT E
- YELLOW sticks for SHORT I
- GREEN sticks for SHORT O
- BLUE sticks for SHORT U
- PURPLE for DIGRAPHS
Having them organized this way meant that my students could independently sort them by color when they were done, and the station was (almost) always clean!
If you are looking to splurge, you can also get Sticky Sticks. The fact that they come with adhesive strips already attached makes them the perfect solution to a last minute center!
Step 3: Decide How You Want To Attach Your Content
Depending on your content/skill, you need to decide what your best approach will be. For example, when I use Kaboom! to teach coins, it made the most sense to hot glue the actual manipulatives to the sticks to create different collections of coins.
However, when I’m looking for fact fluency, I am just going to grab my Sharpie and write different facts on each stick!
When I’m looking to incorporate pictures in these games, I break out the cardstock and the color printer. After some quick cutting, I have three possible options: hot glue, double-sided tape, or splurging on the Sticky Sticks (mentioned above).
Step 4: Find the Right Storage Solutions for Your Classroom Needs
Storage is totally a personal preference! Our classrooms are all different layouts, some with cabinets, some with closets, some with shelves, and some with no walls at all! The method that works best for me in my current classroom are Crystal Light containers.
I don’t drink Crystal Light, but my friends and family members know that I can always find a use for them (kind of like toilet paper rolls). They drop them off to me in bulk, and they never go to waste.
I put a piece of colored construction paper or cardstock in the container so that students cannot see the sticks (and cheat!). Then, add a simple label on the front for easy identification and voila!
Step 5: Introduce the Game to Your Students and Enjoy
Put all of the popsicle sticks face down so students can’t see what is written on them. Here’s how to play:
- First student pulls out a popsicle stick.
- The student identifies the “answer” or “correct response.” If their answer is correct (determinded either by a reference sheet or their peers) they get to keep the popsicle stick. If they answer it incorrectly, the stick must go back in the cup.
- The students continue around the circle, selecting one popsicle stick at a time and answering their question.
- Any student who pulls a KABOOM! stick has to place all of the popsicle sticks they have accumulated back into the cup, leaving them with zero. (It may sound harsh, but it happens OFTEN, so all students will at some point get “Kaboomed!”
- The game NEVER ENDS because eventually someone will get a Kaboom! and their popsicle sticks will go back into the cup to keep the game going.
I hope you and your kiddos enjoy this center, and you find it as versatile and simple as I have! Have fun and thanks for stopping by!