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The Spin on Spinners: Test Driving Classroom Game Spinners

text: The Spin on Spinners image: four pre-made game spinners that can be used on homemade classroom spinners

Game spinners can be used in so many ways in a primary classroom. They are a great alternative to dice when you want to focus on specific numbers and concepts and they add fun and fine motor practice to simple practice activities! While I have often used the paperclip and pencil spinner method, which is easy for students to learn, I wanted to try out some store-bought game spinners that still allow for customization. I will include an Amazon affiliate link to each of the spinners I tested.

The printed and laminated spinners I used when testing these spinner arrows are 4.25″ square. Two of the game spinner arrows I tested require making a hole in the middle of the laminated spinner (which was a little challenging), one uses a suction cup, and the other is a clear plastic overlay spinner. They all spun smoothly and did the job, but I think each is best suited for particular tasks.

text: The Spin on Spinners image: four different game sinner arrows being used on homemade, printable classroom math game spinners

Testing the Game Spinners

These colorful spinner arrows are four inches long. They are reasonably priced for a 12-pack and, once attached to the spinner, work nicely. To use, you must make a hole in the center of your spinner and snap the two parts of the arrow together through the hole. The arrow can easily be removed to use with a different spinner.

These black boardgame spinner arrows function in the same way as the rainbow arrows above, but they are only three inches long, which worked better for my purposes (as the 4″ spinners extended beyond the spinner circle. What I like about this type of arrow is that they stay put, spin smoothly, and lie just above the surface of the spinner, making it easy for children to see which section the arrow has “landed” on.

If you are making games that you want to keep forever, it is probably worth it to use these arrows. If I were going to be rotating my arrows through a variety of spinners, I don’t think I’d want to have to make a hole in the center for each one. (To make the hole, I used this extended-reach hole punch which still wasn’t quite long enough. The hole also wasn’t big enough, so I had to expand it with scissors.)

10 red suction cup spinners

The next arrows I tried are these cute suction cup ones! I wanted these to be the best game spinners because they are such a fun idea. These can simply be pressed down onto the center of your spinner before flicking. What I found is that these are fun to use, they just don’t stay stuck for very long. To a laminated spinner, the arrow did stick for long enough to spin, but it needed to be pressed down again for each new spin. I tried sticking it to plain paper and it would not stick for more than a brief moment (no surprise), but it stuck for considerably longer on a whiteboard (both horizontally and vertically).

These spinners are great if you want students to just be able to grab one and get to work. They might be motivating to some students, which could make up for their lack of stickiness! The only other downfall to these is that the arrow sits up higher from the spinner surface. This makes it a little trickier to see where the spinner is pointing if it’s close to a line.

a suction cup spinner attached to a laminated printed math game spinner

And the winner is…

These last game spinners, by Learning Advantage, are transparent plastic overlay spinners. With these, you can lay them on top of your own spinner (and tape them if you don’t want them to shift). This is a super simple way to make anything into a spinner! Another popular use for these is to tape the clear spinner to a CD jewel case. You can then stick any homemade spinner inside the case for a secure and interchangeable spinner solution.

These spin smoothly and are, in my opinion, the most versatile and easy of the four spinners I tried. If you’d like to try the CD case option, these Maxell Jewel Cases are great. They come in five colors, which is great for grouping and differentiating, but the front covers are clear, so your spinner inside will be clearly visible.

Speaking of spinners, check out this fun kindergarten math set! These spinner games can be used all year long. This set of simple math spinner games are perfect for early finishers or as an independent center. Students practice counting and cardinality as well as more/less concepts and beginning addition and subtraction using thematic game boards and differentiated spinners.

text: Spinning through the Year Math Games image: a kindergarten math game made with a number spinner, a game board, and transparent circular counters

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