Despite the Vomit Virus, I kept a commitment today to run a 1-hour game session for 54 year 1-2 children (6-8 year olds) at my children’s school. My doctor cleared me to do it this morning (the quote: “As long as they are not touching your poo, it will be fine”), and I figured it wouldn’t be too horribly hard.
In fact, I was pretty ready to collapse by the end of it. Not that it was a huge effort – it was so much easier than any of the game sessions I have done before – but I really shouldn’t have been up & about.
Here’s what made it easier: HELPERS.
And not just any helpers, but Year 6 students (11-12 year olds) who have been doing the boardgames elective with me.
I got in to school a little early, to brief the helpers on what we would be doing and on which game they would be teaching. Some of them quickly played through their game, others still needed an explanation from me, as they weren’t games that I had selected for the older group to actually play.
Here are the 12 games we took, and how they worked:
- Spooky Stairs – worked well.
- Make ‘n’ Break – worked well. One child came up to me afterwards to say this was her favourite. One group got a little bored with it, though.
- Viva Topo – worked well. Good choice.
- Giro Galoppo – also worked well, possibly because the child demonstrating it really took the time to work out how to teach it. She was very good at minimising conflict, too – that can be a problem when someone’s horse moves backwards!
- Gopher It – seemed to work well, although I started the children who obsess about squirrels on the other side of the room!
- Sherlock – always works well, but we demo with 6 cards rather than with 8. I noticed that the child demonstrating wasn’t always remembering to put the arrows on the outside of the layout.
- Catch the Match – always works well.
- Barnyard Critters – also very good for this type of demo. Biggie had this one and said some kids really didn’t get it, so she stopped and talked them through how to solve them. Good girl. The boy who was going to demo this swapped with her as he is a bit colourblind.
- Pick a Paint – we used the co-operative version. I don’t think the student demonstrating this really understood how to play, so this was less of a success. Need to work on that.
- Apples to Apples Junior – I had pegged this for the next age group up, and I was right – the younger students had a little trouble with some of the words. Also need to remove American words like cotton candy and diapers (or just write the real words on there – they’re nappies and fairy floss, fercryingoutloud).
- The Same Game – absolutely dynamite. There’s a new version of this coming out this year, which makes me happy.
- Halli Galli – always works well.
Lots of tried & trusted games there. Mostly, they’re the games that I’ve recommended school buy and use for setting up its game library – I wanted the children to learn to play games that they’ll be able to play again.
The structure worked well. I talked very briefly about games – that they are something our family enjoys doing, and that we can choose games the same way we choose books – by author, series, pictures, theme, etc. I should also have talked about some rules and how we treat games – saw a few bent cards, although at least none of these kids were **putting game pieces in their mouths** (ugh).
Then the children divided into groups of 4. We ended up with 2 5s and a 6 – but I had planned for that. (I know that I could have had 13 groups of 4, but I had only taken 12 games because I expected that some of the children would be away sick. When you rely on something …)
As I said, each of the older group was ready to demonstrate one game. They scattered themselves around the hall, but in an order – I’d worked it out so that the “bigger” games were separated, as were the memory/observation games, so that none of the children would end up playing the same type of game again. After about 15 minutes, the children rotated to the next group, and then they did this again after another 15 minutes.
At the end, we came together and we talked about how nicely they had played the games, how well they had moved between stations, etc. Two of the children spoke about what their favourite game was (Apples to Apples / Giro Galoppo). We agreed, as a group, that “kittens” is cuter than “my grandad”, and we clapped me for bringing the games, the big kids for teaching them so well, and the small kids for playing so nicely.
I always enjoy days like this, but I couldn’t believe how un-stressful this was, with my fabulous year 6 helpers. Definitely the way to run these events in the future.
I did realise, later, that “can you bring in a variety of games for 54 6-8 year old children” might be considered by some to be a difficult request. Because I had already done the thinking on what to recommend to the school, though, it was pretty straightforward.