Technology and Games
Games are a great way to get students excited about learning. It's also a wonderful way to have the students review or work on things that that they may be struggling with. Technology is one way to bring games into the classroom. The above link is to my class web site. In the language arts and math tabs you will find web sites that I use in class with the students to review and practice different skills.
The students love time on the computer to "play" it is a great way to get them to practice their reading and math skills. Students don't really think of it as learning. I believe that computer games have a time and place in the classroom. The problem with computer games is that students are not interacting with others which helps their social skills. In first grade it is important to have students interacting with each other and moving away from playing side by side separately.
Games in the Classroom
First grade is also the first time most the students have been separated from their family for the whole day. In first grade students are learning a lot of things at a very fast pace. Mixing those two things together make the day very long for the students. Which is where games come in. When the students are playing games they don't worry about the time and just enjoy what they are doing.
The first link above shows a poster I made about the positives and negatives of games in the classroom. The second link is a slide presentation about some of the different games I have in my classroom.
I really like incorporating games into the classroom for a few reasons. First, games are a great way to have the students review material without them realizing they are doing it. Second they build relationships with other classmates. Third they are able to work on problem solving skills in real life (like who goes first). Last they are able to be a support and teach each other their strengths. Each class as their challenges when it comes to games. As the teacher I have learned you really have to stress the importance of just playing. I have learned to make a big deal out of the ones that finish last because they continued to play until they got to the end. Finishing is what matters not when you finish. Being a good sport and helping others on your team is more important than finishing first.