Make your life easier and prevent any arguments or hurt feelings during group activities by using one of these 12 easy ways to choose who goes first. By keeping your selection random, you are showing the students that you have no favoritism towards any particular student plus children will recognize that you are being fair.
From experience, you’ll remember a time when deciding who goes first or who goes next took almost as long as the class activity itself. The following ideas are designed to prevent all that.
1. If your group has 6 or less members, grab a dice and each person will take one turn to roll it. The student with the highest number goes first. If 2 or more players get the same highest number then only those students will roll again. Keep rolling until a winner is declared. If your group has more than 6 players, then use additional die to decide the first player.
2. For groups of any size, hold a bunch of straws, pencils or Popsicle sticks in your hand. You’ll need the same number of items as you have students. One of the items in your hand will be half the size of all the others, which you will have shortened beforehand. The person who pulls that shortened item will be the first player in your classroom game. If you use items which can’t be broken then just use a marker to add a line to one of the items.
3. This one feels like it could be a game by itself. Divide the class into pairs for the first round. In this round you select one of the students in a pair to select a card from a deck of cards, which are face down in your hand. The other person in that pair will then pull a card. The person with the highest number goes through to round 2. In round 2, two winners from round 1 will go head to head to see who has the highest card. Continue in this way until you have just two winners left in the final battle for first place.
4. Play Rock, Paper, Scissors. Again, divide the class into pairs who will battle it out for a spot in round 2. Game play couldn’t be simpler: Players will put their left hand behind their back and put their right hand out in front of them in a fist. Players will bounce their right hand and count one, two, three before revealing a rock (a fist), paper (a flat hand palm facing down), or scissors (index finger and middle finger in a V shape). Determine the winner using these rules: Rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper and paper covers rock. Continue the same way in round 2 all the way to the final.
5. For class games involving either pairs or two teams, a straightforward toss of a coin will easily decide who goes first. But who decides who calls heads or tails? Toss the coin? No. Give the responsibility to the most organized, quiet and attentive team. Got two quiet and attentive teams? Then play Rock, Paper, Scissors or think of a number between 1 and 10. Closest to your number calls the coin toss. I guess tossing a coin isn’t so straightforward after all!
6. Grab a hat and marbles; one marble for every student. All the marbles will be the same size but only one of them will be a solid color while the rest are the usual see-through glass design. Go round the room and let each student pick out a marble. They must keep it covered in their fists and only reveal when all students have picked their marble.
7. Collect a bunch of Popsicle sticks and write their names on them; one per student. Now stand all the sticks in a mug with the names hidden inside. Mix up the sticks with your hand and pick one out at random. That person goes first. Keep going if you need to determine the order of the whole activity.
8. See who can perform a task the fastest. The task can be anything from holding up a certain colored crayon from their desks to finding the first word of a particular page in their textbooks and putting their hand up ready to give you the answer.
A: I’ll tell you tomorrow…
9. Perfect for keeping the classroom neat and tidy and gaining the attention of your students, tell them you will play an exciting classroom game but you don’t know who will be chosen to go first. To help you choose, they must put away any toys, tidy their desk space and sit quietly.
10. For truly unbiased decision-making of who goes first, write the names of all students on a list. When classroom group activities are played on any given day, refer to your list to see who goes first and put a line through any names that have been selected. When the list is finished, make another one with names in a different order.
11. Tear up a piece of paper into little strips. On each strip of paper, write a word or phrase to describe the students and place into a hat. For example, brown eyes, more than 6 letters in the first name, etc. In class, ask all students to stand up. Pick a strip from the hat and read it out. Any student that can be described using that feature will remain standing. Keep going till there is only one student left. If all students sit down at any point without a clear winner, go back one step and pick a different strip of paper.
12. Think of a number between 1 and 100. Students will write down their number on a piece of paper and hold it up. Call out your number and reward the person with either the same or nearest number (without going over) with the chance to go first in the class game.
All you need now is to think about what educational game you’d like to play… and another difficult decision… how to pick teams.