So, I've been tutoring this first grade student. I've been trying to come up with a variety of games for him to play. I've been doing that for two reasons: #1 If he has fun, then he'll want to keep playing the games. And, when he keeps playing the games, he's practicing the phonics patterns that he's supposed to be practicing (e.g. -at in bat or -an in ban). #2 If we play the same game over and over again, he'll get bored of it. That means that he won't want to play the game anymore which further means that he will definitely lose his motivation to practice.
So far so good. I've come up with five different games to play with him and he loves my games. Now, the thing is, each of the games that I've made have benefits to them. Certain games are better for addressing different areas of phonics than other games that I have. For example, one game may focus on a time element, which is good because it speeds him up, but another game might focus on another letter pattern which I need him to learn as well. Also, the dry activities that I have at my disposal are neat, effective, and efficient.
A couple of tutoring sessions ago, I started out with one of my games. It was a new game for him. I'll explain in greater detail in another post but basically, there are two spinners. The result of the spinners is a three letter word. He throws a small paper ball into a cup to get a point. He couldn't get enough of it. He could probably keep playing it for longer than half an hour. That motivation is great, but I wanted to move on to one of the more effective dry activities. Unfortunately for me, once he got a taste of my games, he didn't want to go back to the dry stuff.
Its interesting though. When I start the tutoring session with the dry activities. He's pretty willing. It's only after he has fun playing my phonics games that he doesn't want to go back to the effective and efficient yet dry activities. That's why I say that if a student who you work individually with is motivated to do a dry activity that is effective and efficient, then let him do it. With such a student, never start with the games or else you'll never get to make use of those kinds of dry activities. You could probably generalize this idea for a classroom as well (to the extent that your students in a classroom are motivated to do a dry activity).