For Your Classroom · Review

Holiday Review Games

Those last couple of weeks before winter break can be such a challenging time: everyone is just focused on the break and the holidays, and no one is really into the whole academic thing. 

But we can’t just throw away these days! 

Learning should still be happening, even amid the chaos.

This is where review games always saved the day in my classroom. I always purposefully left several days (sometimes nearly a whole week) to go over everything we’d covered throughout the semester and prepare students for their finals.

If you’re tired of playing round after round of Kahoot, try these winter/ holiday-themed review games. They’re just right for upper elementary all the way through high school.

And be sure to check out the prize ideas at the end of this post, if you want to reward your winners with a little something.


Snowball Fight Review Game

What you’ll need: 

  • Approximately 20-30 review questions, numbered, and printed on paper, 2 to a page; make enough copies so that each student in class will have to answer several questions (you might end up printing the same question a couple times – some duplicates are ok)
  • Answer key for questions
  • Tape safe to put on the floor (like painter’s tape)

Set up:

  • Cut the pages with your review questions in half, so that each question has its own sheet of paper.
  • Tape 2 parallel lines down the middle of your classroom, 3-4 feet apart from each other.
  • Divide students into 2 teams.
  • Crumple each review question loosely into a “snowball.”
  • Divide the “snowballs” so that each team gets half of them.

Game play: 

  • The two teams stand on either side of the tape lines, with the 3-4-foot space separating them.
  • Set a timer for 1-2 minutes. From the time you say “go” until the timer goes off, students can throw as many “snowballs” back and forth as they want. The object is to throw as many “snowballs” (review questions) as possible over to the other team, so that they have more questions to answer. Don’t allow students to throw “snowballs” towards others’ faces, etc.
  • After the timer goes off, the teams must evenly divide all of the review questions so that each student is answering a few questions. You can decide whether teams are allowed to discuss the questions. 
  • Students must write down their answers to the questions. (If you want to reuse your “snowballs” for another class, have students write down the question number and their answer on their own paper.)
  • The first team that correctly answers all of their review questions wins.

White Elephant Review Game

This popular holiday party gift-exchange game is also known as Dirty Santa or Yankee Swap. Students are probably already familiar with the rules. This review game twist doesn’t require students to bring in gifts.

What you’ll need: 

  • “Gifts”: Each “gift” for this game is a review question or task, or set of questions. The review tasks should have varying levels of difficulty. Assign a point value to each “gift” based upon its difficulty. Prepare enough “gifts” for each student to have one. 
    • Example: Correctly complete half of a worksheet for 200 points.
    • Example: Correctly answer 2 short answer questions for 100 points.
  • An answer key for each review task
  • A way for students to each draw a number – (e.g.: If you have 17 students, have numbers 1-17.)
  • Optional: a small gift bag or box to place each review task inside of, so students can unwrap them

Set up:

  • Set up a table with the “gifts,” either stacked in their bags/ boxes, or just folded up.
  • If possible, arrange desks/ chairs in a circle around the “gift” table.
  • Divide students into 2 or more teams (there’s no need for them to sit with their team).

Game play: 

  • Students each draw a number. This determines the order of game play.
  • Student 1 selects a “gift,” opens it, and shares the review task and point value with the class. (No one needs to answer at this time, they just need to know what the review task is and how much it’s worth.)
  • Going in number order, Student 2 can choose to either steal the review task that Student 1 has opened, or open a new “gift.” If Student 2 steals Student 1’s “gift,” Student 1 must then choose a new “gift” to open.
  • On each student’s turn, he can choose to either steal a review task that another student has opened, or open a new “gift.” If a student’s “gift” is stolen, he must open a new “gift” – he cannot steal. 
  • If you want, you may put a limit on the number of times the same “gift” can be stolen. 
  • Game play continues in this way until every student has had a turn. 
  • Once every student has a review task, they must correctly complete their tasks. 
  • When they’re done with their review tasks, students turn them in to be checked. As you check for correctness, add up team points. You can give partial points for partial correctness, if you want. The team with the most points wins.

For variations on game play, check out this post.

Build a Snowman Review Game

What you’ll need: 

  • Building materials for 2 complete snowmen, including accessories – If you teach where you get real snow, you’re feeling adventurous, and you have plenty of time, take your students outside and let them build actual snowmen for this game (I’m probably crazy for even suggesting this, I know…) OR just use laminated graphics with magnets attached to hang on your whiteboard inside. 
  • Approximately 30 review questions (Psst! If you teach ELA, this huge terms and definitions glossary makes great material for games like this.)

Set up

  • Divide students into 2 teams. They can remain in their seats.
  • Have the snowman materials ready to be easily hung on the whiteboard or other visible area.

Round 1: Build

  • Teams take turns answering questions. The best way I’ve found to do this is to go in order, asking the question to one student at a time. If the student on Team 1 gets the question wrong, the student who’s next on Team 2 can have an opportunity to answer.
  • For each correct answer, students get to add one piece to their team’s snowman.
  • Round 1 ends when you’ve either asked half of your review questions, or one team has a complete snowman, whichever comes first.

Round 2: Attack

  • Ask questions in the same way you did during Round 1.
  • During this round, when a student gets a question correct, he can choose one piece of the opposite team’s snowman to remove.
  • The game ends when you’re out of time or review questions, or when one team’s snowman has been completely destroyed. 
  • Of course, the team with the most pieces of their snowman left standing at the end of the game wins.

Prize ideas

  • Food prize ideas: different sodas or juice drinks, bags of chips, individually wrapped snack cakes, individually wrapped candy
  • Non-food prize ideas: fun pens, vinyl stickers, bracelets, slime or Play-Doh (even teens like this!), fidgets, lanyards
  • Free prize ideas: bring a blanket or wear slippers to class, chew gum or eat candy in class, design an assignment for the class

3 thoughts on “Holiday Review Games

  1. Molly, thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas. You really helped me because every time I played a review game of Memory with my students, I couldn’t think of anything else. But now I have more ideas, thanks to you.

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