A colleague showed me how to play this simple game many years ago and it has become one of my life lines when I am subbing in a class. All you need is a small, rubber ball (I got mine at the dollar store).
When I come into a class, after I've introduced myself, I write the words
on the board. That usually gets the attention of all the kids because those who know what it means get excited, and those who don't, want to know what it's all about. I then explain to them that this is a game that we will play together for the last 10 minutes of the day if they are well behaved and their work is accomplished for the day. Every time I have to tell them to quiet down or to get back on task, I erase a letter. If there is at least 1 letter left at the end of the day, then we play the game. If they lose all their letters, then we don't play. Depending on the group, sometimes I allow them to earn letters back. After a couple of letters are gone, I usually don't have to say anything at all. I just walk up to the board and as I'm about to erase, the kids encourage each other to get back on track.
This is how you play the game. Students sit on their desks with both feet firmly on the seat of their chairs. They are not allowed to take their feet off the chairs or their bottoms off their desks. Once the ball is in play, nobody is allowed to talk. If they talk, they are 'out' and have to sit on their chair. When they get the ball, they have 3 seconds to throw it to someone. They have to make sure to make eye contact with the person they are throwing to. If the throw is unreasonably high and the other person misses it, the person who threw it is out. If it could easily have been caught, the receiver is out.
When I see that the game is too easy for some (depending on athletic skills or desk arrangement), I throw in some challenges; for example, throw and catch with only one hand, close one eye, etc.
I've played Silent Ball with grades 1 to 8 and students love it. Sometimes I have a small prize for the winner, sometimes I don't. They now request this game when they see that I'm their teacher for the day.
It's funny how something so simple can work so well!
Pssssst....It also works well if the kids want FREE TIME or want to play BINGO! ;)