Everyday Epiphany, humor

First Grade Bingo

First graders LOVE their teacher.

I’m a teacher, but a substitute teacher, not THEIR teacher. For first graders there is NO substitute for their teacher. 

Skeptical eyes surveyed me. 

To their credit, they withheld judgment. They weren’t overly critical when I failed to pause by the tiled area in front of the office on the way to lunch. 

To their teacher’s credit, the afternoon’s lesson plan included Math Bingo in place of the typical math assignment that supported the upside of having a substitute teacher. It was just a game of Bingo, but the kiddos looked forward to the break from routine.

Bingo: The Warm Up

Adult Bingo players follow particular rituals before settling in for an action packed evening of gambling. Behaviors include having the caller touch their game card, circling their chair three times, and sidling up to the VFW bar for a high ball.

 “Silent Workout” is the first graders warm up. I created this activity because it’s silent (I’m no fool.) and it’s active. (First graders’ middle name is “Wiggles”.) “Silent Workout” entails me standing in front of the class with my hands by my sides and feet together. I instruct the students to do the same and follow my workout silently. While doing so, I solemnly explain, I will be watching as to who is accurately mimicking my behavior silently. Then that person will be the next leader. Being the leader AND having everyone do what you tell them to do silently and without protest is AWESOME! It’s the ultimate power! We take turns until attentions wane or someone leads the group in a Grand Jete.

Bingo: The Choices

Adult Bingo players choose cards based upon lucky numbers under a certain letter. Blue pens are typically used to mark off the numbers as called. Should that pen roll off the table, a different one replaces it. It’s bad luck to use a fallen pen. (I know this is true because I read it on the Internet.) 

The first graders’ game board, designed with nine boxes containing columns of tens and stacks of ones, emphasized the learning part of the game. Students needed to decipher the numbers to identify the ones populating their cards – a necessary step to covering what had been called.  Although the cards looked similar the markers used to cover the numbers weren’t. A variety of thumb nailed sized erasers sparked an interest in attaining a category for play. Would a sports theme be luckier than an animal theme? I distributed a handful to each child and asked for the leftovers. They traded markers fast and furiously before I called the first number.

Bingo: The Play 

Adult Bingo players cover cards in a variety of patterns: four corners, single lines, and six-pack are a few.

The first graders were to cover the entire board’s all nine numbers. 

I called the first number. 

“Ahh! I got it!” rose from the hopeful crowd. “Aww! I don’t!” murmured the unlucky majority.

I called the second number. 

A hand shot up! 

“I don’t have that number,” cried an incredulous player.

“You won’t have all the numbers,” I explained.

“I had the first number,” he explained confident in his premise that if he had the first number he should also have the second number.

“That’s the way it works,” I explained. “You’ll have some of the numbers, but not all of them.”

“How will I win if I don’t have all the numbers?” he pointed out.

“You WON’T always win. But you’ll be prepared to win because you figured out the numbers on your game card, know the rules, and listened carefully. Then if your numbers are called you’ll be ready. Luck is part of it. It’s like life.”

Prepare to win by figuring out your strengths, know the rules, and listen carefully. Although I’d lived this way, right then, in front of the first graders it felt like an epiphany.

Sometimes Bingo just isn’t a game of Bingo.

2 thoughts on “First Grade Bingo”

  1. I am going to incorporate some exercises into Friday’s BINGO at the Senior Center. I’ll have to be really clever about it.


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