When kids get their squirmiest, we’ve just got to allow them at least a couple of minutes to get the wiggles out, no matter how old they are. Even I get sick of sitting or standing around for too long.
I was doing my student teaching in a 5th grade classroom and at the end of the day, the teacher would occasionally let them play a game she called Silent Ball. The kids loved it and while they were being active, it was completely silent.
So, when I started teaching 3rd, I modified it slightly and changed the name to Silent Cube (because all I had on hand at the time was a large pair of foam dice). I also play it with my current 5th graders.
Below are the rules, but feel free to modify it for your kiddos or as the mood strikes you. I have two versions, one for in the classroom and one for in the hall during passing period (when you gotta wait for the next class to get ready, but your class is in the hall and getting a bit noisy and restless).
This game can be used with any object (stress balls work great) that is fairly safe to toss around the classroom and possibly (because it will happen) hit someone in the face without injury. I’ve got two different sized pair of foam dice. I change them out for variety and a challenge for the kiddos, which they enjoy. I keep one of the small foam die on the chalkboard tray to use for the hallway version whenever the need arises.
- No talking
- No laughing
- No noise whatsoever (yes, you must say all of these)
- Chest or underhand tosses only (gentle tosses)
- You must stay in the spot you are in, no moving around (standing behind or by their desk)
- Don’t toss it back to the person who tossed it to you (until we get down to the final two)
- If you drop it, you’re out
- If you toss it and it hits ANY object (ceiling included), you’re out
- If you toss it too short to the person you meant to toss it to, you’re out
- If you overthrow it, you’re out
- If you catch it and the cube touches another object, you’re out
- If you catch it then drop it, you’re out
- You cannot toss it to the judge (teacher) or you’re out
- When you are out, sit down and don’t argue with the judge (teacher) – arguing gets you sitting out for the next round/game
Some additional ways to challenge and mix things up a bit is to give them a time limit on how long they get before they have to toss it or they’re out (I usually pause the game and say they have 5 seconds to throw, and shorten the time as the game continues). Adding additional cubes or objects to toss into the game adds to the silent mayhem. At our Christmas party, we had three cubes (two small and one large-sized cubes) going at once. One of the parents said, “I’ve never seen our daughter quiet for this long ever.” I’ve also put students in charge of being the judge and I’ll step in and play. The kids (myself included) love it.
This one is more tame and only students who opt in get to play (most of them choose to play). At the beginning of the year, I’m the only one tossing it to students and they toss it back to me. They have to be silent and have their books on the ground and standing in their spot in line for me to toss it to them. By mid-semester or sometimes earlier, I start it off, but then the student I toss it to steps out of line and picks someone to toss it to that’s following the rules. They then step out and choose someone else to toss it to. We do this until the class we are waiting on is exiting the classroom.
The kids will do ANYTHING to play this game. On the last day of school we play Ultimate Silent Cube. Four cubes going simultaneously and all the classes for that grade level in one room. We move the desks off to one side of the room and stand in a large circle as best we can fit everyone. All the teachers can be judges, or put one teacher in charge and let the others join the fun. When someone is out, they step out of the circle and sit down to watch the quiet insanity. It. Is. EPIC.