10 Awesome Review Games

We're about to start another year of homeschooling here at the Dietz Den, and as I'm gearing up I've taken some time to compile a collection of my favorite fast-paced review games. These are best-suited for small classes of 8-12 year olds. In Classical Conversations, this would be the Journeymen or Masters classes.

One attribute of our review games I've grown to love is Collaboration. In the Collaborative Model, struggling students are never left out or left behind. Instead, they hear the review topic extra times and receive extra encouragement and attention from their teammates. In the Collaborative Model, it's everybody's turn, every time (or it could be!), so every student stays engaged.

How the Collaborative Model works:

Each student is assigned a color, which can be displayed by a visor, ribbon, badge, etc. (I used these foam tiaras for my class of all girls.) The review question is announced and students have time to collaborate, reviewing the answer amongst themselves. (I play the first few bars of the Jeopardy song during this time.) Once time is up, a color is pulled from a hat and the student with that color must stand and present the answer.

It's been amazing to watch the more advanced students help teach their peers with grace and patience. The students share mnemonics I could never dream up, and they bond in the process as they work together for a common goal.

I love the Collaborative Model so much, I'm tempted to use it exclusively. But since I know I have a few students that are just SO motivated by competition, I keep some regular face-off games around, just for variety.

Without further ado, the games...

1. Understudy (Collaborative)

Prep: Bring two bells. (I like this bell from Amazon.) Split class into two teams with one bell on each side. Each member of the team is assigned a different color, with the same set of colors for both teams. 

Play: A question is read and both teams collaborate. When time is up, a color is pulled and the student from Team 1 with that color (the Performer) answers the question, while the student with the same color on Team 2 (the Understudy) listens. If the Performer answers correctly, Team 1 gets a point. However, if the Performer gets stuck or messes up, the Understudy may ring their bell and attempt to answer for TWO points. If the Understudy gets stuck or messes up, Team 1 may ring their bell. If this happens, any member of Team 1 may answer, and it’s worth THREE points. The next question is asked, and this time a representative from Team 2 is the Performer, while Team 1 has the Understudy.

2. Dress Up

Prep: Bring a bag of crazy dress-up items. The whole class is on one team against the Tutor. 

Play: Rotate around the room asking questions to one student at a time. When an answer is correct, the student gets to choose an item from the bag for the Tutor to wear. If an answer is incorrect, the Tutor picks an item for that student to wear. When the bag is empty, play continues and students who answer correctly get to remove an item from a teammate and return it to the bag. Once the whole crazy outfit is on the Tutor, the class wins.

3. Connect Four (Collaborative)

Prep: Draw a 6x6 grid on the board. Across the top write the subjects: History, Geography, Math, English, Science, Latin. Split class into two teams and assign colors. Each team chooses a different color dry erase marker.

Play: Team 1 chooses a subject. Ask a question from that subject and allow both teams time to collaborate. When time is up, a color is pulled and that student answers. If the answer is correct, use Team 1’s dry erase color to make a dot on the lowest square of that subject column. If the answer is incorrect, other team may take a shot at “Wipeout Mode,” in which a new color is pulled and that student may answer (without collaborating) for a chance to erase one of Team 1's dots. Play then continues with a new question directed at Team 2. First team to connect four dots in a row wins.

4. Build-a-Bear (Collaborative)

Prep: Split class into two groups and assign colors. Both groups are on the same team, racing against the clock.

Play: Ask Group 1 a question and allow time to collaborate. When time is up, pull a color and that student answers. If answer is correct, that student “builds” (sketches) a part of a bear on the board while play continues with Group 2. If answer is incorrect, play continues to Group 2, but nothing gets built. Parts of the bear to be built, one at a time, are: Tummy, head, 2 ears, 2 eyes, mouth, nose, 2 arms, 2 feet. See how many bears you can build!

5. Stinky Feet Game (Collaborative)

Prep: Bring mini Post-its with point values* (-5 through +15) written on the sticky sides. Draw a giant foot on the board (because this game is stinky!) and stick all the post-its to the board. Split class into two teams and use the collaborative model. 

Play: When a team gets an answer correct, they choose a post-it and gain (or lose!) points accordingly. When a post-it is negative, make a big deal about it being soo stinky! This game is such a hit.

*I also include notes like “Go again!” or “Opponent’s next turn is worth double!”

6. Teachers and Students

Prep: Bring and distribute “scorecards” for each student. (I use sheet protectors with string tied to form necklaces for reusable, hands-free scorecards.) Split class into half Teachers, half Students. Teachers sit down at their desks (as spread out as possible). Give each Teacher a stack of review flashcards and a dry-erase marker.

Play: Start a timer for 5 minutes and shout “GO!” Each Student runs up to a Teacher’s desk and Teacher asks a question. If Student answers correctly, Teacher initials Student’s scorecard. If Student answers incorrectly, Teacher provides the answer and they practice it together until Student can say the answer alone. Upon answering correctly, Student runs to another teacher for a new question. After five minutes, yell “Switch!” and Students become the Teachers.

7. Castles

Prep: Bring a large stack of Solo plastic cups and a bag of ping pong balls. Split class into pairs, or play every man for himself. Set the timer for an amount of time (5-10 minutes) but don’t tell the class exactly how much time you chose. 

Play: Rotate around the class asking questions. When a team gets an answer correct, they can choose to earn a cup (which can immediately be placed on the table as part of their castle), receive a ball (which must be stashed for a future turn), or throw a ball (from their stash) at an opponent’s castle. Thrown balls must be retrieved by the thrower and returned to the bag. When timer goes off, team with the tallest castle wins!

8. Human Tic Tac Toe

Prep: Arrange 9 chairs (3 rows of 3) in center of room. Split class into two teams. Tutor and one parent helper stand stand in opposite corners of the room, equal distance from middle chairs. Each team huddles around one adult. 

Play: On “Go,” both adults read off questions to their team and any student who can answer (with or without help from teammates) gets to run to the tic tac toe board and sit down. First team to make three-in-a-row wins.

9. Pirate Booty

Prep: Bring 50 items (poker chips, pebbles, buttons, paperclips, plastic jewels, etc.). Split class into pairs and give each team 10 items: their booty*!

Play: Rotate around the class asking questions. When a team gets a question correct, they may steal two pieces of booty from their opponents (two from one team or one from two teams). When they get a question incorrect you steal two from them! The booty you steal is permanently out of the game. The last team with booty (or the team with the most when time is up) wins!

*Boys in particular find the word "booty" hilarious, which I think is hilarious. But "treasure" would work too if you don't want this game to be quite so giggly.

10. Knowledge Web

Prep: Bring a ball of yarn (an actual ball, not a skein). Set up chairs in a small circle. One student ties the loose end of yarn around a finger.

Play: Ask a question to the class. Everyone who knows the answer raises their hand. The student with the ball of yarn chooses a teammate with their hand raised and that student answers. If answer is correct the ball of yarn is passed to that student, who loops the yarn around a finger. Play continues this way until every student has five loops: one on each finger. If they succeed at this mission, they’ve created a great work of art! Take a moment to acknowledge the unique web they’ve made.

I hope these games are as fun for you and your class as they've been for us! Let me know what you think in the comments! What other review games do you love?


  1. These are awesomic!!!!!!! I can't wait to try these!!! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing these! Definitely helpful!

  3. Awesome ideas.. Can't wait to play dress up.

  4. Amazing! I love the game ideas, but mostly I just love the collaborative nature of them all. I'm sharing these!

  5. Fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing these great ideas!

  6. Thank you !!! Great ideas!!! I look forward to using them.

  7. Thank you !!!! Great ideas !!! I look forward to using them this year.

  8. Great ideas!
    Thanks for sharing!
    I will use them :)