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Kaboom! Possibly The Best Center Game Ever!


Do you use Kaboom! in your classroom? It has been my go-to center for the past few years, whether I'm teaching Firsties, or now third graders.  If Kaboom! is new to you, or it is something you haven't yet tried in your classroom, here are some great reasons to give it a try:

1. It is highly engaging!
2. It lasts for as long as you need it to!
3. It can accommodate nearly ANY content area/targeted skill!
4. It is quick to prep!
5. It costs next to nothing to make!

When I was first introduced to this game by a dear, sweet teacher friend, I didn't believe it!  "You mean there's a game out there that can last an entire center rotation, isn't hard to make, can be used anywhere in my curriculum, and won't break the bank?  Yeah right!"

Well, I was happily proved wrong!  My teacher friend broke the game down for me, and I was amazed at it's simplicity and brilliance.  Here's how you play:


When I say that I find a way to use Kaboom! to teach/review EVERY content area, or any targeted skill, I'm totally serious!  I have used it to teach all of the following concepts (plus about a million quite a few more!)

MATH:
  • Number Identification & Counting
  • Coins/Money
  • Time
  • One More/One Less and Ten More/Ten Less
  • Addition/Subtraction (fact fluency, missing addends, combinations to ten…etc.)
  • Greater Than/Less Than (with whole numbers and fractions)
  • Identifying Fractions (including unit fractions & mixed fractions)
  • Multiplication facts
  • Area/Perimeter
  • Place Value
  • Jumps on the Hundred Chart
  • Estimation (estimating the sum of  two 3-digit numbers)
  • Rounding
  • Translating standard form into expanded form 
SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES
  • Defining Key Terms/Vocabulary
  • True/False Statements
  • Geography
  • Time Line- Which happened first?
LITERACY
  • Letter Identification
  • Phonemes
  • Phonics (short vowel, long vowel, silent e, vowel teams…etc.)
  • Sight Words
  • Blends
  • Rhyming/Word Families
  • Parts of Speech
  • How Many Syllables?
  • Punctuation
  • Vocabulary Definitions
  • Synonym/Antonym
  • Text Features
  • Genre Definitions
  • Story Elements
  • Prefix/Suffix

Trust me when I say that I have tried MANY different types of popsicle sticks, and your selection really does make a difference!  I thought I was being really clever when I was first starting to use this game in my classroom.  I bought a huge box of popsicle sticks from an arts and crafts store, because they were so much cheaper to buy in bulk!  

Well... I was completely wrong, and here's why:  

1.  Not all popsicle sticks were straight/flat, which makes it hard when you are trying to attach anything to them.  Also, when they aren't straight it makes it difficult to write words or math sentences!    

2.  Not all had smooth edges.  Can you say splinters?!?

3.  The wood is often different shades.  This may not seem like a big deal, but kids are clever and will memorize which popsicle sticks have Kaboom!

I prefer to use the wide popsicle sticks, and I love grabbing them on sale at Target!  The wide sticks make it easier to write legibly, and provide a larger surface area for gluing (i.e. they stick longer!)


I also loved using colored craft sticks because it helps give me some natural organization! 


When I taught Firsties, I loved using Kaboom! to help my kiddos practice short vowel sounds.  The colored sticks were perfect for keeping the games separated.
  • RED sticks for SHORT A
  • ORANGE sticks for SHORT E
  • YELLOW sticks for SHORT I
  • GREEN sticks for SHORT O
  • BLUE sticks for SHORT U
  • PURPLE for DIGRAPHS.

Having them organized this way meant that my students could independently sort them by color when they were done, and the station was (almost) always clean!


If you are looking to splurge, you can also get these AMAZING Sticky Sticks  The fact that they come with adhesive strips already attached makes them the perfect solution to a last minute center!


Depending on your content/skill, you need to decide what your best approach will be.  For example, when I use Kaboom! to teach coins, it made the most sense to hot glue the actual manipulatives to the sticks to create different collections of coins. 


However, when I'm looking for fact fluency, I am just going to grab my Sharpie and write different facts on each stick!


When I'm looking to incorporate pictures in these games, I break out the cardstock and the color printer.  After some quick cutting, I have three possible options:  hot glue, double-sided tape, or splurging on the Sticky Sticks (mentioned above).  


All have worked for me, but I have found the hot glue and Sticky Sticks to be the longest lasting.


Storage is a totally a personal preference!  Our classrooms are all different layouts, some with cabinets, some with closets, some with shelves, and some with no walls at all!  The method that works best for me in my current classroom are Crystal Light containers.


I don't drink Crystal Light, but my friends and family members know that I can always find a use for them (kind of like toilet paper rolls).  They drop them off to me in bulk, and they never go to waste. 


I put a piece of colored construction paper or cardstock in the container so that students cannot see the sticks (and cheat!).  Then, add a simple label on the front for easy identification and voila! 


Put all of the popsicle sticks in face down so students can't see what is written on them.  Here's how to play:

1.  First student pulls out a popsicle stick.

2.  The student identifies the "answer" or "correct response."  If their answer is correct (determined by either a reference sheet or their peers) they get to keep the popsicle stick.  If they answer it incorrectly, the stick must go back in the cup.

3.  The students continue around the circle, selecting one popsicle stick at a time and answering their question.

4.  Any student who pulls a KABOOM! stick has to place all of the popsicle sticks they have accumulated back into the cup, leaving them with zero.  (It may sound harsh, but it happens OFTEN, so all students will at some point get "Kaboomed!"

5.  The game NEVER ENDS because eventually someone will get a Kaboom! and their popsicle sticks will go back into the cup to keep the game going.


I hope you and your kiddos enjoy this center, and you find it as versatile and simple as I have!  Have fun and thanks for stopping by!

57 comments:

  1. Such a great idea! I love the storage tip too. #i mighthaveOCD -Christina

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    1. Hi Christina! Thank you for always being such a wonderful support :) You always make my day!

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  2. I like this idea....thinking of other ways to use it!! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh I'm so glad to hear it, Brenda! If you think of any other ideas, please let me know!

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  3. Love this! How many sticks do you typically use per set? How many kabooms?

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    1. Hi Michael! Great question! I usually do about 35 sticks per set (30 regular and 5 Kaboom!) Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. What would you suggest is the ratio for kaboom sticks to say, multiplication facts? Thanks

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    1. Hi Christina! I usually do about 35 sticks per set (30 regular and 5 Kaboom!) I'm so glad you stopped by!

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  5. Thanks for sharing...another engaging activity for my kids.

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  6. How many kabooms would you have per set?

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    1. Seems like popular question :) I usually do about 35 sticks per set (30 regular and 5 Kaboom!) I hope that helps and you and our kiddos enjoy it!

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  7. Thanks for the great idea! Will be using it tomorrow! :)

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    1. You're so very welcome, Jackie! I hope your kiddos love it as much as mine do!

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  8. This is so amazing! I want to use this game :)

    Question - How many sticks do you generally include in the game (total)? ALSO how many Kaboom sticks would be in the game??

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    1. I just saw all of your previous answer.
      MY new question (that you haven't answered) -
      How many kids play at a time?

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    2. :) I usually have anywhere from 2-6 students play. Years that I have a rowdier group, I like to limit it to 3-4 student. That way, the wait isn't as long, and they are able to keep their focus. I hope you and your kiddos enjoy it!

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  9. LOVE this!!!! I have played this type of game in several different grades. You gave me some great new ideas for me to try out! THANK YOU so much!!!!

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    1. Oh yay! You are very welcome, Kriss! I'm so glad you stopped by and found some new ideas!

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  10. Love this! Think it would work with preschoolers? (Am thinking letter/number recognition!)

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    1. I have seen my kindergarten teacher friends use it with their students, and it seems to work very well! I think letter and number recognition would be perfect! I'm sure you know best the right amount of support to give them as they learn :)

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  11. Awesome. Love this. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. You are so welcome Jenny! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Great idea! Thanks for sharing! How do you use colored ones assigned to different short vowel sounds?

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    1. Hi Debbie! I keep them color coded sticks for different short vowels (e.g. Short A is Red and Short E is orange.) When we play, we can either use ONLY the red sticks and focus on Short A, or we can mix them together and have students close their eyes as they pick. The color coding just makes it SO much easier for clean-up purposes!

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  13. I love the idea. I've got third graders working on their multiplications facts. They are going to love this game. I had already been using these sticks with students' names for my random call cup. Thanks for giving me a new way to use them.

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    1. Sounds like you are ready to go!! I hope you and your kiddos enjoy it as much as mine do!

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  14. As a SLP in the schools I use this quite a bit for phonemic awareness, language, vocab, etc. My question is do you have a way to deal with those students who have their own Kaboom when they pull that stick?

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    1. Hi there Speech Gal! It takes a lot of previewing for some kiddos. I often try and put a small signifier on one of the Kaboom sticks so I can be Kaboomed first, let us all giggle at it, and then move on. I still have a kiddo every once in a while get upset, but the reminder that "We all get Kaboomed" and that the game doesn't end usually does the trick.

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  15. Love this idea! Will be trying it with my preschoolers.

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  16. Do just write on them or do you have premise words that size we can print and glue? I teach 1st and have some that need K sight words still.

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    1. I don't have words that are pre-made. When I taught first, I usually just wrote the words on the larger popsicle sticks. However, I'm loving the idea of using the small return labels to print them out ahead of time :)

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  17. Brilliant! I can't wait to do this with my math students. Also, I drink C. Light and knew there was a way to reuse the containers - thanks for the tip! ;)
    Tammy
    Teaching With Tammy

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    1. Woohoo! Always happy to help find a use for those silly things we hoard! I hope you and your kiddos love it!

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Great! I'm impatient to try it, thanks for your nice sharing ;)

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  20. I love this idea! Do you have examples of how the sticks look for different areas in math and reading such as perimeter/area and text features or genres? I can't wait to use this! Thank you!

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    1. Other than the ones I have included above, I don't have direct examples to share just yet (my classroom is still packed up from the summer!) I'm happy to share them with you when I unpack!

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  21. Thanks for sharing and for the supply details. I think I will create a skill review for my HS math students to do on the first day in their 4-person pods!

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    1. Ooooh! What a great idea! I truly believe that this game can be applied to ALL grade levels :) Please let me know how it goes!

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  22. I just got moved from 2nd to 4th grade Reading/Language Arts this year. Any suggestions on using it for this grade level and subjects? Your help would be greatly appreciated!

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    1. I am switching grade levels this year as well (3rd time in 3 years). I like to look at the content specific skills that I am required to teach in each area, and make a list. This really helps me in creating meaningful games that will help students practice and reinforce those skills. I hope this helps!

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  23. I was wondering if you write the answers on the back of the sticks?

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    1. Hi Tara! I don't, because you never know which way the students will pull up the stick (they could end up looking at the answer before seeing the question). However, I often accompany my Kaboom games with a recording sheet so that I can "keep tabs" on their learning and understanding.

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  24. I just found this great idea of yours! But, if these are meant for centers and the teacher is not there, who decides if the student is correct and gets to keep the stick? How do you use the recording sheets, if that is how you do it?

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  25. Great idea, how do you use them with short a/ short e etc? Is there a picture and students have to spell it? Or do they have to choose between 2 words as to which has the short a?

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  26. I love this idea and would love to use it this week. How do you incorporate the reference sheet so the students know they are right? I have 5th grade so I don't want them to just look off the sheet for the answers. Just wondering how you did it!

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  27. I love this idea! I can't wait to use it! Would one person be designated the "reference sheet keeper"?

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  28. I love this! I am going to use it in music class!

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  29. This is a good game. Also check out SAY CHEESE game for practicing multiplication tables. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ME8HI2Y

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  31. I wish I could hug you! I am a new teacher, teaching a 2-4th grade split. The only way I know to teach this kind of mix is through centers. I've been researching centers and this is one of the best ones I've come across. Thank you for sharing.

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