Why Small Whiteboards for Students are the Best Classroom Tool for Games and Activities
I’ll be honest, I might have an obsession with whiteboards. While I certainly make good use of the large ones for myself, the ones that I really love most are the A4 or letter paper sized ones that I hand out to my students. They’re seriously fantastic!
Although I no longer run an English language training school here, I still have my mountain of 40 or 50 whiteboards just hanging out in my collection of school supplies because you never know when you’ll need them.
I’ve taken them to camps, university classes, teacher training workshops, and more in the past few months. So today, I want to explain why they’re the best classroom game tool and why you definitely need to go get yourself a stack of them today.
Plus, I’ll share a neat hack for how to make some yourself if you just want to try them out before buying a bunch.
I love how small and portable these whiteboards are.
Although my teacher friends in the U.S. are in a traditional classroom where they can have their own stuff set up in the room all the time, but many of us overseas that just isn’t how the system works. At least here in China, even in the public schools, the students stay in the same classroom all day and the teachers come to them.
This means that teachers need to be able to easily carry all of their teaching resources from class to class, so the size of these whiteboards is awesome.
In addition, for folks like me who do special training programs throughout a city, region, or country, this portability is extra helpful.
You aren’t limited to any specific game or activity. Just be creative and you’ll find dozens of ways to make use of the whiteboards.
I use student whiteboards for a huge variety of games primarily. You can use them for games with individuals or groups, all levels, all subjects, all ages, etc. Basically, unless you’re playing a game that is exclusively for teaching speaking or requires special tools like cards, you can find a way to let the whiteboards help you.
Another thing that really helped me was sending some home with students for online classes because it allowed for a much easier visual during certain games since students could hold up the whiteboards to the camera.
In addition to games though, you can use whiteboards to replace worksheets some of the time. Students find using a whiteboard to be far more interesting and exciting than doing a worksheet.
I use this method a lot of grammar. For example, if we’re working on pronouns, I’ll write a noun on the board, and students will write the correct pronoun on their boards and hold up the answer.
Sometimes I use this method by itself and sometimes I turn it into a competition, but the students have fun either way.
Whiteboards are quite affordable. Although you can get high quality ones, I honestly wouldn’t recommend it unless you really trust your students. Here in China, I can get them for under 1 RMB each (about $0.15). In the U.S., you can easily get a 25-pack on Amazon for about $40.
Compared to many other teaching tools, this is fabulously cheap. But more importantly, there’s no time cost involved in setting up or using the whiteboards. Most of the activities I do with them require basically no prep. And, since I bought them, I didn’t have to invest any time into making the tool.
As much as I love DIY teaching resources, even I have to admit to that it’s nice to have something that costs very little time or money.
What if I want to make my own?
I get it. I’m super frugal, especially when it comes to buying untested products for my classroom. I also love DIY, so why not just make my own whiteboards?
If you’re not already familiar with doing so, the simplest way make a DIY whiteboard is with a laminator. Hopefully your school provides one for the teachers or you already have one. If not, just buy the whiteboards unless you plan to laminate a lot more things.
Anyways, simply take a sheet of white paper (A4 or letter size is best) and run it through the laminator. This will give you a decent test whiteboard.
I wouldn’t really recommend this for long-term use though. I made do with these for a LOT longer than I should have, given the low cost of buying real ones.
The main issue is that they eventually begin to not erase well. And by “eventually” I mean anywhere from 1 day to 1 month from when they’re made. So just be prepared to have to make new ones often if you’re getting good use out of them.
That being said, it’s a great option for introducing them to your classroom and seeing if you really love them before buying a bunch.
So, do you already use student whiteboards in your classroom? What are some of your favorite activities? Let me know what you think of them. Looking forward to hearing what y’all have to say in the comments!