Connect Four

This game, designed as a whole-class activity managed by you via a whiteboard, is arguably more like Blockbusters than Connect Four.  All students really enjoy playing it, so it’s a great way of consolidating knowledge.  This template was created by Matthew Kennard and posted on the TES website some years ago, but it has certainly stood the test of time.  It runs through Excel and is very simple to use.  As with most things, it does take a while to set up, but once this has been done it can be used again and again and again, so the effort is well worth making.

Connect Four

When you download the template (link below), you will find that it has two tabs – “Board” and “Questions”.  You need to start by creating 45 questions – one has been done for you as an example.  Creating these questions is the time-consuming part!

Once you are ready to play a game, click on “board” and press “new game”: 25 of the questions will be selected at random, and the opening letter to each answer will be displayed.  Up to four teams can play at once, each taking on a certain colour.  Their task is to connect four letters in a straight line – horizontal, vertical or diagonal – by correctly answering the relevant questions.  Each time they get an answer right, click on their colour to show that this square can no longer be claimed by anyone else.

Many students enjoy the strategy element to this game – keeping an eye on what opponents are up to and doing everything they can to block them.  If all teams are prevented from achieving a Connect Four, then the team with the most correct answers is declared the winner.

Each game can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, so it might be wise to set a time limit before you start.  Each time you press “new game” a new selection of questions is made – some of these will have appeared before, so pupils soon realise that it pays to stay focussed!

If you like the sound of this, click here to downloads the template: Connect Four

The 5-minute test review sheet

As we ramp up the amount of exam practice we give our classes, you might want to try out this idea posted on the TES website by @TeacherToolkit.  Click on the image to enlarge, or click here for pdf.

5 minute - test @TT

A variation from Learning@Loreto [click on image to enlarge]:

test review 2

Examples of completed reviews [again, click to enlarge]:

review 2

review 3

review 1

The Lollipop stick goes high tech!

If you want to have a bit of fun selecting students at random, then try using this “name generator”.  To get started all you need to do is click the “Change names” button and then enter the names for your class – if you have these stored electronically, you can just cut and paste the whole class list in one go.  As each name comes up, you have the option to remove it from the list if you want to avoid some people getting selected several times whilst others do not get selected at all.

Name generator

Don’t feel you just have to use this tool for selecting names.  If you have a class working on creative writing, why not put in a list of adjectives, and then set the pupils the challenge of including in their composition the first four to be selected.  If you’re running a revision session in just about any subject, you could enter a list of questions, or topics, or themes.  The range of possibilities is as broad as your imagination …

Simple Starters # 7 – Stick ’em up

Attach key words randomly to the wall of your teaching area.  As the pupils come in, give each one a piece of paper with the definition of a certain key word on it.  They need to find the right key word and stick their definition up next to it.

Then (maybe while you call the register), they should check all of the others and see if they can spot any that seem to be in the wrong place.

Obviously there are many variations on this idea which you could also try.  You might put the definitions on the wall and give out the keywords instead.  Alternatively you could ask pupils to match “ideas” to “evidence”, or “questions” to “answers”, etc.  You could also have one word or idea which needs to have more than one thing attached to it.

Simple Starters # 6 – pairs

This simple starter works well as a quick revision activity. From a series of topics select two words which are peculiar to each one. Present all the words to the pupils in a random order, and ask them to spot the pairs.


A more sophisticated version of this activity can be created by selecting words where the pairs are not so obvious, or where each word could potentially be linked with several of the others on offer. Pupils are then challenged to explain the thinking behind the links that they pick out.

A simple but effective quiz creator

Want to help students make their revision more varied and stimulating? Quizlet is a web tool which allows you – or your students – to create a data bank of key terms and descriptions. They can then test themselves on these in several different ways, as shown here:

1. Basic questions.
Students will be given the definition and asked to provide the term, or vice versa.
quizlet learn

2. Flashcards.
Students see the definition and have to remember the term, or vice versa.
quizlet flashcard

3. Test.
Pupils are asked varied questions about definitions and terms – some are multiple choice, some ask for text, etc.
Quizlet Test

4. Spellings
The term is read out by the website (possibly not entirely reliably), and the student has to spell it.

5. Scatter
Several definitions and terms are scattered across the screen. The pupils have to pick up and drag the definition over to the correct meaning, or vice versa. The presence of a timer adds an extra challenge.

6. Race
The definition slides across the screen and the student has to type in the term before the definition disappears.

This is very easy to use, and the students will certainly enjoy it. Be aware that an account has to be set up with Quizlet in order to use it and that while this is free, there are also upgrades available at a cost.

If you like the sound of all this, click here to try it out.