About the Games

How the Games Work for Kids

The games give kids an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice AND FAIL FAB­U­LOUS­LY at the behav­iours we want them to learn. Each game is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice social emo­tion­al skills, while main­ly being a FUN brain break for the kids. They don’t even know they’re learn­ing any­thing impor­tant. They just are.

Chil­dren learn through play. Maria Montes­sori suc­cess­ful­ly cre­at­ed an entire aca­d­e­m­ic mod­el based on that idea, as did Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers.

Impro­vi­sa­tion was specif­i­cal­ly designed so peo­ple — chil­dren — could prac­tice feel­ing dif­fer­ent ways in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions and learn to feel com­fort­able in group situations.

i2i — Joy in Learning

The games work because they’re easy to learn, easy to play, easy to implement into classroom life.

Peo­ple need brain breaks to work and learn at their opti­mal lev­els. These games take few­er than 3 min­utes to play, yet pack a wal­lop of learn­ing with­out ever say­ing so.

Before an instruc­tion­al block tran­si­tion, a teacher says, “Put your read­ing away, take out your math, and then come to the cir­cle for a quick game.” The teacher begins coach­ing the game after about 30 sec­onds. The kids who are ready join the cir­cle. The rest fin­ish their tasks and join as they are ready.

Why the Games Work For You

It’s easy out of the box! You can work Improv2Improve games into your day, not work your day around them. The games are short, need­ing as lit­tle as 1 to 3 min­utes, per­fect for a Brain Break between more men­tal­ly tax­ing activ­i­ties in your class­room. It’s com­po­nent­less — no need to find pieces, make copies or bring any­thing but your­self and the right mind­set. Play freely with­out con­stant assessments.

Improv for the class­room was cre­at­ed by Vio­la Spolin in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. It’s not a new idea; it’s just repack­aged and reimag­ined for the 21st cen­tu­ry with easy-to-use game packs and aligned stan­dards that dri­ve SEL behavior.

Easily integrated into your day

You’re busy and we get that! Improv 2 Improve’s SEL games are unique because they don’t ask more of your time. We know there are a lot of great SEL pro­grams out there, but the best of them want time you don’t have.

Effort­less­ly work Improv 2 Improve games into your day, not work your day around them!

Unique Features

Unlike oth­er SEL pro­grams, Improv to Improve is eas­i­ly scal­able, work­ing for a class­room, a cohort, a school or a dis­trict. Because it’s com­po­nent­less, that scale is afford­able. While the packs include online train­ing, you can take advan­tage of our exclu­sive KKIT pro­gram (Zoom or in-per­son). SEL pro­grams abound, but there’s noth­ing like i2i.

The Packs

The Green and Pur­ple Packs con­tain all games nec­es­sary to imple­ment the pre‑K through 12 scope and sequence for CASEL standards.

The Green Pack

Express and Engage

Green Pack Games are filled with group dynam­ic fun that also teach­es impor­tant self-con­trol and self-man­age­ment skills hid­den beneath the sur­face. Rather than focus­ing on just one sit­u­a­tion, chil­dren are able prac­tice improv behav­iors in the ever-chang­ing sit­u­a­tions the games nat­u­ral­ly provide.

The Purple Pack

Laugh and Learn

Pur­ple Pack Games focus on inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships and prob­lem solv­ing. The games pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hone speak­ing and lis­ten­ing skills in a non-judg­men­tal envi­ron­ment. The games use lan­guage to cre­ate fun, releas­ing stu­dents from the pres­sure to be “right” or clever.

i2i was created out of the need to break up the 90 minute literacy block in Lisa Poskanzer’s kindergarten class.

Lisa knew that she was feel­ing pres­sure and anx­i­ety for the 5 year olds to make the man­dat­ed learn­ing gains set by the school, dis­trict, state, and nation. She also knew that ten­sion wasn’t good for her or for her stu­dents. In order to release her own ten­sion, Lisa, with friend Paulette, began tak­ing impro­vi­sa­tion class­es with Kath­leen Ken­ny at Bob Carter’s Actors Workshop.

Quick Results

Play­ing impro­vi­sa­tion games with Kat imme­di­ate­ly made Lisa feel bet­ter. There was laugh­ing and silli­ness and ridicu­lous fun with oth­er grown ups. Lisa began to feel free to just let loose and give up the need to con­trol and direct and micro­man­age every moment. If only for the hour each week when she could just play and fail fab­u­lous­ly, it was enough. 

Imme­di­ate­ly, Lisa brought the fun games of her improv class back to her kinder­garten class­room. The games turned out to be the tool nec­es­sary to keep her 5 year old stu­dents con­nect­ed and engaged through the long aca­d­e­m­ic instruc­tion­al blocks. Over the next sev­er­al years, Lisa incor­po­rat­ed the “cir­cle games” into all class­room rou­tines. Lisa’s stu­dents knew there would always be a game at the end of the hard work. “We work hard and we play hard,” taught Lisa. “Both.”

And so it was.

The chil­dren learned how to con­trol their urges dur­ing stress­ful times because they knew it was only a mat­ter of time until they would have a chance to play. The feel­ing of joy and release of ten­sion was enough. Just those lit­tle brain breaks of fun made the hard parts of school bet­ter for Lisa’s stu­dents. That would have been enough.

What happened

The first most impor­tant and excit­ing thing Lisa noticed was how well improv games taught com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lan­guage skills. Lisa’s stu­dents came from most­ly immi­grant back­grounds. The games helped hes­i­tant speak­ers speak for the first time. Play­ing the games gave real world prac­tice for oral lan­guage, vocab­u­lary, and grammar.

But the sec­ond most impor­tant thing was real­ly the most impor­tant. The games in Lisa’s class also taught the chil­dren how to get to know each oth­er, how to play nice­ly, how to take turns, cre­ate solu­tions, resolve con­flicts. The games helped shy chil­dren com­mu­ni­cate their needs in their way, while giv­ing the larg­er-than-life chil­dren an out­let for all that has to stay bot­tled up all day. 

Getting out of Lisa’s class

The con­flu­ence of world events gave Lisa, Kath­leen, and Paulette the impe­tus to take the idea of using improv games in the class out of Lisa’s one class­room. The three worked togeth­er to write the curriculum.

 They cre­at­ed i2i as a way to teach teach­ers how to play. First with each oth­er, to feel their own joy and release of ten­sion. Then, to teach them how to incor­po­rate the i2i games into their own classrooms. 

Improv to Improve takes the idea of play.fun.joy and puts it right back cen­ter stage with chil­dren of all ages.