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How to Gamify Your Lesson Plans

When it comes to teaching Social Studies, textbook learning is so twentieth century! Kick up your lessons with engaging, rigorous plans to have your students begging to learn more. Learn how to gamify your lesson plans in your Social Studies classroom! Here are some simple tips to help you get started with your gamified Social Studies lessons.

Make it a Competition

Sure, games can be independent learning tasks, but students love to compete! Put your students in teams before assigning the gamified task. You can allow students to choose their own teams, use homogeneous grouping to give different leveled tasks, or mix the groups up to have the strong readers help the struggling readers. If you want to keep the tasks independent, have your students compete 1 on 1. One of my favorite ways to start the competition is with CSI Spy Mystery lessons. These lessons have your students race to see who can solve the mystery case first. Start with the U.S. Constitution CSI Spy Mystery Close Reading Challenge. This gamified lesson increases engagement with a friendly competition as your students collect clues while they complete reading comprehension tasks. Students complete comprehension tasks to earn clue cards while they review the US Constitution, articles, Preamble, and Founding Fathers. Whatever team solves the case first wins! Which lead detective will solve the crime?

Add Props

Another way to gamify your lessons is by adding a bit of flair! Bring on the props for the CSI Spy Mystery lessons. Props such as signs, case files, moustaches, and more make your gamified lesson feel like a real crime scene! The U.S. Constitution CSI Spy Mystery Close Reading Challenge even includes suspect signs and an access code poster. Cut out the shade and moustaches and attach them to popsicle sticks for perfect photo booth props. Add some crime scene tape and the included police badge for a full-fledged CSI Spy game! As an added bonus, invite your students to dress the part! Come to school in their best detective garb to make this a true crime solving game!

Vary the Tasks

If you want your students to stay engaged with your gamified lesson, include multiple tasks! All the CSI Spy Mystery lessons include four tasks for your students to complete as they collect clue cards to solve the crime. Tasks include:

Find and Fix – Fix Incorrect Statements

Next, Find and Fix is a strategy where incorrect parts of a statement are underlined.
Often, these words are important vocabulary words or key names or phrases. Students change the underlined word to make the statement correct and rewrite it. This is another step in the game, and another way to earn a clue in order to solve the case!

True or False with a Secret Word

The third task is "True and False". Students answer True and False questions. The designated letters on each question spell out a secret word, another clue to help your students solve the crime!

Main idea and supporting details

Finally, I love using graphic organizers with my students! Your students will identify the main ideas in the passages read along with three supporting details. Correct main idea and details mean more clues and one step closer to solving the CSI Spy Mystery lesson.

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Every lesson includes:
  • 4 Reading comprehension tasks
  • Case file dossier (recording sheet)
  • Teacher answer key (when applicable)
  • Set up instructions
  • Props and signs
  • Get your students reading, exploring, and solving the case as "lead detectives"! Think about the CSI Spy Mystery lessons like a game of Clue for Social Studies! It's a regular whodunit your students will solve while learning about so many different Social Studies topics!
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Constitution Articles
  • Articles of the Confederation
  • Judicial Branch
  • Bill of Rights
  • Constitutional Convention

  • Stick with the Objectives

    One reason I love these ready-made CSI Spy Mystery gamified lessons is that they align so well with upper elementary and middle school Social Studies standards! Stick with your objectives and goals for your students, and your games will be more than just fun-filled lessons for your students. They'll also be perfect ways to introduce a topic, review Social Studies units, and even work for sub plans!

    Add Rewards

    Of course, the reward for a gamified lesson is the learning, right? However, our students love to be recognized for their efforts. Take social media or classroom pictures with "I Solved the Case" signs. Throw in some candy or non-food rewards like stickers. Even middle schoolers love laptop or water bottle stickers. Your students will love be recognized for all their hard work as they solve these CSI Spy Mystery gamified lessons. These tips on how to gamify your lessons in your Social Studies classroom will have your students engaged and ready to learn! How do you use games in your classroom?

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