School games

01 May

Today I had my last week with the game group from 1st term. This group of 11 children have had 8 weeks or so of games with me, starting to play a lot of the games independently. Last week, they taught a range of games to younger children; from next week, they will be teaching their peers.

The school has a recess break from 2 until 2:30, then I game with the kids from 2:30 until about 3:25 or so, when they pack up for the day.

Today, as usual, I arrived at 2. Bigster and one of her friends were in the classroom – they often spend recess time helping me set up. Today, though, four of the boys were also in the classroom – they had planned last week that they would play Pandemic, and they wanted to get an early start. Actually, only 3 of them were in the group; the fourth, a friend of Biggie’s since she was a baby, had just missed out on joining the group but had snuck in this week (and had helped us teach the younger kids last week).

They got set up and taught the new boy how to play, while Bigster and her friend played a few rounds of Blink. Once the bell rang, the rest of the group came in. First thing I heard was “Oh! I want to play Pandemic again!” – and then “Great! The Settlers of Catan, let’s play that!” – so, with a couple of kids missing today, I had a group playing Pandemic, another group playing Settlers, and Bigster and her friend playing a couple of shorter kids’ games as well as Cartagena.

The cooking group finished early, and wandered over to look at the enticing display of the games that school has bought. A couple of those went off to be played, then Pandemic finished with a loss and a couple of boys from the cooking group joined in a big game of Apples to Apples: Kids!

The best thing about today was seeing the children teaching one another to play reasonably complex games, and seeing the other kids’ enthusiasm to join in and learn some of the games.

Next week I’ll get a new group of kids, but any of this group who would like to stay will be welcome to – so the group could reach 20+ students. Our aims will be to get the kids teaching one another to play games, while I teach a small group to play something new.

And my mission is to play 10 days in Asia, Scotland Yard and Through the Desert again, so I can teach any of those next week as well.

Meanwhile, I have a meeting with a teacher on Monday night to talk about how we get these games into use throughout the school. She’s very keen, and has been taking games home to try out/learn. If anyone has suggestions or advice on how we do this, they’d be very welcome; I think that a priority has to be to introduce them to staff – even the people who don’t like games will find something that they enjoy.


Posted by on May 1, 2010 in games, school


4 responses to “School games

  1. Jocy

    May 1, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I really think you do an amazing job on this.
    As I am currently attending a Planning and Analysing seminar where I have to do a warming-up activity games are on my mind constantly 😉

    Anyway, a few suggestions:
    1. as you said yourself: Teacher Game Night for those who are interested to learn some of the games
    2. Teacher Game Introduction for those who arent keen on playing but want their pupils to play some
    3. integrate into school life: we use warming-up activities to get started into the day or when the kids are too high on energy to really learn: Why not play one of those fast and easy kids game in between?
    4. As a reward for a well done test or project: Why not let them play a game for half an hour or even a tad more?
    5. There are games that can be integrated into lessons plan when they fit with the topic

    That is what first rushes through my brain now.


    • Melissa

      May 2, 2010 at 8:35 am

      Of your 5 excellent points, I think the first two are the ones that are up to me – I see it as my job to inspire the teachers to use the games, and to show them how they can be used – but the actual use in the classroom is then for the teachers.

      What is a huge positive is that the children themselves are so excited by it all.

  2. Larry Levy

    May 2, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Melissa, why don’t you get in touch with Ben Baldanza? His wife Marcia (a fine gamer in her own right) is an educator and when they were living in my stomping grounds of Virginia, she was the principal of an elementary school. She was always striving to get gaming into the kid’s lives, including a Parents/Kids gaming night twice a year. I and a bunch of the other gamers in my group would volunteer to teach games and they were always a great success. The nights were sponsored by Funagain, but that might be tougher with you being in Oz. Anyway, I’m sure she would have a ton of ideas and would probably be very willing to help you out.

    • Melissa

      May 2, 2010 at 8:36 am

      Larry, that’s an excellent idea. As a school leader, Marcia obviously drove that program and has that experience of implementing a very successful program behind her,


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