Games & Tutors Go Hand in Hand

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How many games are in your tutoring toolkit?  Kelly Penneman, a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 tutor from California, advises, “Be ready with your bag of tricks!”  Your tricks are your secret weapons to engage your students in learning; they’re not always games, but often they are.  Tutors and games go hand in hand.  Students are often excited to work one-on-one with a tutor, but at times, they may feel shy and reluctant to study.  Playing games with students is a wonderful way to break the ice, bring them out of their shells, and help them gain self-confidence.

Let’s take a look at 3 games that are fun, educational and engaging!  Be sure to check out the resources listed below each game for freebies and tutorials.

Card Games

Help kids improve their math skills with a deck of cards!  The games you can play with cards are countless, and the skills students can work on are limitless.  Even simple games, like Black Jack, will get your kids thinking (and counting) !



Resource: Math with a Deck of Cards

Board Games

Board games can be used with all ages to improve a range of skills.  They are perfect for tutoring small groups, but they’re also fun for tutoring one-on-one.  Traditional board games, such as Scrabble and Monopoly, can help students with spelling and counting, but you might want to create your own games to supplement your lessons.


Resource: ESL Game Boards

DIY (Do -It – Yourself) Jenga

Ordinary Jenga is fun for kids, but DIY Jenga puts a whole new spin on it and makes the game fun AND educational!  That’s a combination that tutors should always strive for, especially when tutoring children. Whether you are tutoring math or English, DIY Jenga will encourage engagement and build on the basics.

DIY Jenga is also a hit with ESL students! It can be used to reinforce new vocabulary, start conversations, and review test questions.


Resource: DIY Jenga Games

For more playful teaching ideas, check out Tutors Nirvana’s Pinterest board.  Do you use games when you tutor?  Which ones are your favourites?   

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About Amy Penner

I've worked in the education sector for over 7 years in Asia, and am currently an ESL tutor and communications consultant in Victoria, British Columbia. When I'm not blogging or preparing for my next lesson, you'll find me running by the ocean.