Ring the Bell! A GREAT Game for the Beginning of the School Year!

Ring the Bell Game from HeidiSongs!
 

Here is a game I created called “Ring the Bell!”  It is a wonderful small group “Bang” style game for the beginning of the school year for Pre-K, Kindergarten, or first grade.  I love it because it is fast paced, can be easily modified to review either letters, numbers, or words, and has elements in it that help children get to know each other a little bit!  Each year when I have played it with my little students, they have loved it!

When a child gets a "Ring the Bell" card, they get to push the button and then they get all of the cards at the table- except the dealers cards, of course!
When a child gets a “Ring the Bell” card, they get to push the button and then they get all of the cards at the table- except the dealers cards, of course!
 

As many of you know, I am on a Leave of Absence this year so that I can work on growing our HeidiSongs business and do more speaking at conferences and school districts (Did you know that you can bring me to your school for staff development???  Email us to find out how!)  Anyway, I was reminded of this great back to school game when my former aide Rachel called me and asked if she could borrow my copy of Ring the Bell.  (She is now working with a teacher new to Kindergarten.)  Of course I agreed, but I reminded her that she would need some kind of bell or a Staples “Easy Button” to play the game.  They didn’t have one, so I lent her my Easy Button as well.

Ring-the-Bell-Alphabet-Cardssm
You can use any kind of bell you like! It doesn’t have to be an Easy Button. But I do not use my “freeze” bell, because I don’t want them to become “immune” to hearing that bell! That would un-train them to freeze when they hear it, so to speak….
 

Some of you may already have Ring the Bell, since I posted it on my website a few years back, but I don’t believe that I have mentioned it since.  (This game is a $5 download, but if you have some similar clip art and some time, you could probably make your own game, since I am telling you below exactly how to play it!) I figure that if it is important enough for Rachel to ask for, it’s important enough for another mention!  (Yes, I could have sent her the download, but they didn’t have the Easy Button at hand anyway, and they needed the game first thing in the morning.)

 

To Set Up the Game:
1.  Print out the game and cut the cards apart.  Decide which concepts you want to work on, and include those cards in the game.  I have included letters, numbers 0-10, and some color words, and a VERY few basic sight words in the download.  There is also a page of blank cards so you can customize the game to your students’ needs.

Ring the Bell Color Word Cards
Use whichever cards you like for the game! You can customize it and put in your own words by using the blank cards that are included.
 

2.  Find some kind of button or bell.  Any kind will do!  But, if you use a “Freeze Bell” in your classroom, I would advise you NOT to use that same bell.  It will confuse your students to hear it all of the time, and they will start to learn to ignore it.  This will essentially train your students to IGNORE the bell- which is NOT what you want, of course!  I went with the Easy Button because it was relatively quiet, and the rest of the class was able to ignore it and go on with their centers and activities while I played the game with one small group at a time.

Answer Buzzers Box
 

3.  Feel free to eliminate any of the “special” picture cards below, such as the “recess” card, where the kids run around the table once, etc.  Different groups of children can handle different levels of activity in the classroom, and are able to calm themselves back down again afterwards.  So if this makes you nervous, eliminate it!

 

Here is how you play Ring the Bell:
1.  The dealer holds all the cards, shuffling them before beginning.  Try to put one “Ring the Bell! card on the bottom of the stack.

2.  The dealer gives the first child a card.  He tries to identify the card.  If he cannot identify it, just tell him and have him repeat it.  There is no penalty.

Ring the Bell Number Cards
You can include whichever cards you want to drill your students on in the game; either numbers, or letters, or words, or all three! It’s your choice.
 

3.  If the child receives a “special card,” then he must do the following things.  

Ring the Bell Picture Cards
 

Apple:  The child has to give his apple card to the teacher.
Snack Time:  The child gets a piece of cereal or some other treat.
Write Your Name:  The child tries to draw his or her name (or the first letter of his name) on a friend’s back.
You Are So Smart:  Everyone at the table points to that child and says, “You are so smart!”  (My students LOVED this!)
Recess:  The child gets up from his chair and runs around the table one time.
The Dog At My Homework:  The child must give all of his cards to his teacher.
You’re My New Friend:  Give someone a card.  Giving a hug as well is optional!
Ring the Bell:  Ring the bell, and then you get all the cards at the table, (except for the dealer’s cards.)  We use a Staples “That was easy!” button for the bell.
The game continues until all of the cards are dealt…. or you run out of time!  The child with the most cards is the winner. 

 

Tips for making this game go well:
– If you think that a child may be left out of the “You’re my new friend” loop, and not get chosen, consider playing the game along with your students so that you can make sure that all of the children get chosen at least once.
Consider placing all of the “special” picture cards in a separate pile, hidden in your lap or put ALL of them at the bottom of the stack so that you have some control over who gets them and when.  That way, you can make sure that you get lots of drill and practice with the concepts in, and then as their attention span begins to wane, you can start throwing in the special picture cards.  You can also make sure that everyone gets to ring the bell, which is of course very important to all of the children.
– I often gave this game to volunteers or my aide to play with the students during our small group rotation, since it is very easy to play and requires no real expertise.  But it is a really nice way to bond with the children, since they always seem to REALLY enjoy this game, every single year!
– I usually tell the children that if they do their best and are good, at the end of the game, I will let them all ring the bell one more time.  This provides some good motivation to behave… if you follow through!
When you are transitioning from one group to another, consider placing the bell up on a shelf or ledge out of reach!  Buttons that make funny sounds are EXTREMELY tempting, and if you have forbidden the students to press them without permission, but leave them within reach, you may find yourself having to do some extra disciplining on that day.  And that is NO FUN!  I figure, if I can prevent a problem from happening and make it a happier day, then I may as well!  You can always give a lesson on self control later on another day, and leave it within reach… and see if the children can go ALL day long without pressing it!!!  But at the beginning of the year, when there are so many new procedures and so many things for the teacher to deal with…. well, I would just rather NOT!  🙂

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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. I would love for my class to win the Musical Math DVD! I plan on using the sight word songs with them in class, but I think they would enjoy the math DVD at home!

  2. I would love the sight word CD because so many of my students, especially the ESL students, could use these at home to help with their word recognition.

  3. I love this game! I bought the download a couple of years ago, and my kids really enjoy playing it. I bought a Staples bell, and they love getting to press it.

  4. I would choose Jumpin Numbers. Students receive so much help with reading at my school. I feel math is somewhat neglected for my ESL and Title 1 learners!

  5. I would love a class set of your DVDS. I love singing the songs as much as my students do. I taught them the yes/no song on the first day of school and they kept asking to hear it again.

  6. I would like to send a DVD of the sing and spell vol. 1 home with my students! They are fun and multisensory which makes them great for the repetition that my students with disabilities need. Great product. Thank you!

  7. Heidi, I look forward to reading your blog every week. I enjoy your activities and perspective more than any of the other kindergarten blogs I have visited. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and materials. I also greatly appreciate your generous freebies.

  8. Thank you for posting this,.,you are right about others needing this. I returned to Kinder this year and had not remember about this game until you mentioned it today. When I used it in the past kids loved it!

  9. Heidi, you are a genius! I love your CDs, but I am a little behind on a couple of them. I am now teaching 1st grade, but I still pulled out the sight words DVDs at the beginning of school, starting with the first one. They love them and beg for them every day! They are now a reward ;)! Believe me, they will do anything to get to “dance” and spell!

  10. Games are the new way to teach. Which we played games like the ones I play with my class ack when I was in elementary school!

  11. I would love to have any of your DVDs. Thanks for sharing with us. You are a fountain of knowledge and our kids benefit from all you do and share!!

    Conchy

    Conchy Marcano

  12. I think my kinders and tks will love this game. It sounds like a fun way to learn.
    I would like my students to have a copy of your spanish cd.

  13. I would love a class set of dvds! I am just now hearing about your awesome cds and dvds and they sound great. A class set would be fantastic – but even if I don’t win, I’ll be purchasing some of your products! How in the world will I choose? Ha!

  14. The Ring the Bell Game sounds great or the beginning of the year when students have to learn so many things. I will try it with letters first.

  15. I love all your ideas! Learning should be fun and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your love for teaching, your knowledge and experience!!!

    I hope I could win a set of your cds or dvds

  16. Loyal follower. Use a lot of the freebies and LOVE the sight word DVD’s. My kinder’s LOVE the addition and subtraction mats! Thanks for all the work and inspiration to be a better teacher!

  17. My first graders love when I put “Miss Heidi” on to help us sing and spell our Kindergarten word wall words to review. I have the phonics DVD which will be using later.

  18. I would love to win the set of DVDs! I am switching to first grade next year and these would be an awesome resource and tool in my classroom. I love that your DVDs cover our sight words! I have always used music in the classroom, not just because the research supports the strength in teaching with music, but also because of the awesome student engagement and the excitement/fun! Please consider me!

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