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It’s Just Fun: How to Play Children’s Lit Headbanz

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? If you are an educator, you know this well. As a K-5 school librarian, I see every class for 50 minutes each week. We read and talk about books in the library, we use computers and iPads to learn about research and digital citizenship in the computer lab.

A couple years ago, I had a few days where I was going to have to be in classrooms during these weekly sessions. I stocked up on read alouds, obvs, but technology wouldn’t be an option. I had to get a little creative. When this happens, I usually try to get good ideas from my wife, Allison. She’s a teacher and always has good ideas.

She suggested something that has become one of my favorite book-related games to play with students (and a hit with students too): Book Character Hedbanz.

That’s right, I said HEDBANZ – because it’s pretty much a twist on the popular game that you might have played before.

Here’s how I do it . . .

Step 1: Find a 1 foot ruler. Or a paint stirring stick. Or something about that size.

Step 2: Print out images of well-known book characters. You’ll have to go with ones that you think most kids will know.

Step 3: Using cardstock and a stapler, make a pocket that can fit over the top of the ruler. Glue the book character picture to the pocket.

Okay, you’re read to play. Here’s how I set up and run the game with students . . .

Step 1: Tell kids they are about to play a great game, because it’s true.

Step 2: Pick a student to begin. The student comes up to the front of the class and holds the ruler up by their forehead.

Step 3: Without that student seeing (but visible to the rest of the class), place one of the book characters on top of the ruler.

Step 4: The class members raise their hands and give clues to the student up front, to try to get them to guess the character. Clues can describe the character, but clues can’t say the character’s name.

Step 5: Continue until the student up front is able to guess the character. Pick a new student, and repeat.

In never fails to be fun.

Do you have any favorite library games? Please share in the comments.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.

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