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School games

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.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 1, 2010 in games, school

 

Classroom Games for 6-8 year olds

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.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2010 in games, school

 

Tips for teaching games

Here’s something I have thrown together for my game group at school later today. They are aged 10-12, if that is relevant.

Any comments? What have I missed?

The constraint was that I tried to fit it all onto 1 sheet of paper.

Teaching a Game

It’s not easy to teach a game, even one you know well. Here are a few tips:

  • Start with the story. What is the theme of the game?
    • “In The Settlers of Catan, you are colonists settling an island.”
    • “In Cluedo, you are guests in a house where a murder has been committed.”
    • “In Piece o’ Cake, you are sharing out a pie.”
    • “In Pandemic”, we all work together to save the world from diseases.

Sometimes, a game doesn’t really have a theme. Just give the players a very general idea of what happens during the game.

  • Next, tell players how they can win. What is the goal of the game? What is the victory condition?
    • “The first person to set up their colony wins – you need to get to 10 Victory Points.”
    • “You’re trying to solve the murder – the first person to do that correctly is the winner.”
    • “At the end of the game, you add up the number of dollops of whipped cream that you ate. And if you have pie saved, the person with the most of each kind of pie gets points for that too. The winner is the person with the most points.”
    • “Either we cure all 4 diseases, and all win, or we all lose together.”
  • Now tell them when the game ends. Some games may have more than one end game condition.
    • “The game ends as soon as one player reaches 10 VP.”
    • “The game ends as soon as a player has correctly guessed the murderer, the weapon and the location.”
    • “The game ends after we have shared out five pies.”
    • “The game is over when all four of the diseases in the game have cures – that’s if we win. Otherwise, it ends after the 8th disease outbreak or when we run out of disease cubes or cards (in the player deck). It’s OK to get to 0 but once you need more than that it’s all over.”
  • Now you can get into the rules. Try to explain what a player does on their turn – but also make it clear if they can do things on someone else’s turn. Start with the most general rules: What do I need to do on my turn? Don’t re-state a reference card, but do point it out.
    • “Each turn, you roll the dice. Players who have built on a tile with that number all get that resource. You get 1 resource for each settlement and 2 for each city. After that, on your turn, you can trade with other players and/or build roads, settlements and cities, and buy development cards (we’ll look at those in a minute). The costs for all of these are on your player card.”
  • Lastly, you can go into detail about any special rules – or wait until they are needed.
    • “If you roll a 7, something special happens. What you need to know now is: If you have more than 7 cards in your hand, you have to discard half of them. And you round up, so if you have 9 cards you must discard 5.”
      (Later, after a 7 is rolled) “OK, so anyone with more than 7 cards has to discard half.” (To the active player) “Now you get to move this special piece, which is called the Robber. You need to put it on a space, which won’t produce any more resources until the Robber moves again. And then you get to steal a random resource card from someone who has already built on that space!”
  • Try not to give too many strategy hints. Let people work those out for themselves!
 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 19, 2010 in games, school

 

Games at school – Interlude

(10:30:18 PM) MelissaInAU: omg those kids would EXPLODE if I taught them Dominion
(10:30:31 PM) Fraser: You are to do *no* such thing
(10:31:11 PM) MelissaInAU: lol pourquoi?
(10:31:24 PM) Fraser: Why not just sell them crack?

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2010 in games, school

 

Games at school 2010 – week 1

I started my “boardgames” elective at school today. I’m working with a group of 12 students in years 5 & 6 (10-12 yr olds) who have chosen this from a range of electives. Actually, 23 students chose to do it, but we’ve restricted the numbers as I just can’t take that many people. The other children will start a few weeks into Term 2, when this group has finished.

The program is a little different this year than it was last year. In the past, I have run “game days” at school, where I take in a bunch of games and try to teach them to OMG the whole class in one go. It’s fun, but stressful. Last year, I had a group of students for about half the year (apparently they continued their gaming after I went overseas – great to hear). I tried to run different games for the whole group, and found that some things worked really well and others (werewolf, dexterity games) absolutely did not.

This year, the program has to do two things.

Firstly, it needs to provide a fun but slightly sneakily educational program for the Year 5-6 kids

and Secondly, it needs to start to provide a framework for the OMG INTEGRATION OF GAMES INTO SCHOOL. Specifically, for the 30 or so games that the school is buying as the basis of a school games library. My aim here is to teach these kids to play enough of the games that will be in that library that they can choose them and play them on their own, without me having to be there. And hopefully to teach them to other kids as well.

I started the day with a discussion of games and the important questions – “What is your name, and what is your favourite game?”

Several of the kids wouldn’t name a game as their favourite. Of the 11 there today, though, I had a “Can’t Stop”, 2 “Carcassonne”, a “Beep Beep” and a “That game where you are building trains all over a map” (Ticket to Ride). Whee!

That is Me.

Well, me and Fraser. But we’ve been a part of that school community for 7 years, we’ve run Family Game Nights for 4 years, we’ve taken games into that school every year and now we’ve got other families excited about them.

When the boy talked about liking Ticket to Ride, one of the other children asked, “Which version?”

Allow me a moment of hard-earned pride. It felt pretty good.

Of course, there was also the boy who said, “I don’t really like games.” “Why did you choose to be part of this group?” I asked. “Because there wasn’t anything else that sounded interesting”

Meanwhile, one of Bigster’s classroom teachers is trying to track down a copy of Stockmarket on eBay because it is so relevant.

Anyway … today’s session. After the introductions, we started with a couple of smaller card games. My theme today was “Games where the person with the FEWEST points is the winner” – so we split into 2 groups (1 group of 4 girls, with the Bigster teaching) and another of the 7 boys, with me). The girls played No Thanks (Geschenkt) and, after they finished, Piece o’Cake (Aber bitte mit Sahne) – not corresponding to the theme, but a good filler. The boys played 2 rounds of 6 takes (6 nimmt), which is on the school’s shopping list. This was a good way for me to see who got right into it, who ran the game, who needed a bit more help.

My plan had been to give them a quick round of We will rock you at the end of the session, but the group in the other half of the (double) classroom were doing film criticism and I decided it might be a bit intrusive. It can wait.

At the end of the session, I asked the group which number is most likely to be rolled on a 6-sided dice. “None!” said one boy, “They are all the same.”

Another boy frowned. “Um, maybe a 6, because it is a bit lighter if they have scooped out 6 dots?”

I love this group already for their Mad Thinking Skillz.

I reassured Boy 2 that it was not a trick question. Then I asked them about what happens if you roll 2 6-sided dice (you can see where I am headed). They came up with “7” … and I came up with a pile of red, green and white dice ($2 for 12 from the local discount store). I got each child to take 2 dice *in different colours* (I think that might make the thinking process easier) and asked them, during the week, to think about what different numbers can be rolled on 2d6 and in what different ways. (I told the classroom teachers that I’d set this, and they seemed pretty happy – something they can think about during the week).

The Boy Who Does Not Like Games conceded that 6 nimmt was “pretty good”.

Next week, the group will split in two for the next 2 weeks. Each week, half the class will play fillers – the games I had with me today and probably a couple of others – Incan Gold, if I can find my copy (it’s still buried in storage somewhere), Apples to Apples, Can’t Stop (oooo relevance to the homework). The other half will play the “feature game” of the next 2 weeks – The Settlers of Catan. With 6 children, I’ll pair them up so that each “player” is actually 2 children. I found last year that that doesn’t slow things down dramatically, and a 3-player game is typically much faster than one with 4 or 6.

When I mentioned Settlers, one of the boys said, “Oh, I’ve played a Germany version of that with my cousin” – another said “COOL! I wanted to learn that!”

After Settlers, I plan to take Pandemic in again – it’s on the list I gave to school, and it worked really well last year. After that, who knows – I think Through the Desert, which school is buying when it is released, but Claudia is pushing for that farming game I have a weakness for.

If there’s time, I want to do a week on game design, but it will depend on how we go – this is a short term, so we will run into the next one, but I am not sure how many weeks we will have.

And THEN … after the session today, I headed for Otto’s classroom, where the teacher tackled me, pinned me down and said GAMES!

OK maybe only one of those things is precisely true.

Next Friday, before my game group, I am meeting with Otto’s teacher to show her some great games for year 1-2 (ages 5-8 approx).

Again, I hope to use this as an intro point for the list of games that I’ve recommended the school buy. The more teachers (and students) that know the games, the more they will be played.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 26, 2010 in games, school

 

When dinner is political

We ate Indian food tonight, in support of Vindaloo against Violence.

At a time when Melbourne seems to be suffering a growth in violence of all kinds, but particularly knife attacks/stabbings and racially motivated attacks, it was a small gesture that I hope said a lot. I understand that there has been criticism that it over-simplifies or even trivialises the issues around violence and racial attacks, but to me, it was like going on a march, only in a more convenient way. And with yummy Indian food.

Good to see some pollies and schools taking it on.

I had no idea how popular it would be, when I rang our local Indian takeaway just after 6. While the event really called for people to eat out, it wasn’t an option for us as we had to have a child out by 7pm. Errm, out as in extra-curricular activities, not as in born or anything. Cos ewww.

They told me the usual 15-20 minutes, so I was there just before 6.30. The shop was completely packed – I counted 15 people in the small area – and more kept arriving. It was 5 minutes before I could tell anyone I had phone ordered, and they were still preparing our food – I finally left at 6.45 with our Indian food of choice (Butter chicken, garlic naan, raita, pappadums, 1/2 tandoori chicken, rice). Yeah, I know – but Butter Chicken Against Bashings doesn’t sound as good as Vindaloo against Violence.

It will be interesting to see what sort of follow-on press this event gets.

One criticism though: the choice of hashtag – #vagainstv – was beyond unfortunate … just move the second a back a few spots and you get a quite different sort of event – every time I see that character string, my mind goes to the Naughty Place.

Meanwhile, I had an encounter with yobbery – arrived at school to collect Otto from after-school care and got inside the school to hear squealing brakes and watch as a small car barrelling down the (suburban side) street beside school squealed its breaks and dropped a 180 degree turn before parking in the centre of the road. I watched the driver’s door open and the driver almost fall out, VB in hand, while another VB can fell out of the car. The driver and his passenger then staggered off into the flats across from school.

Now here’s the question: when something like that happens, what do you do?

A: Ignore it because it’s none of your business?

B: Mention it to the Powers That Be at school, and suggest that maybe there should be a reminder about safe road behaviour in the next newsletter?

C: Take down the number plate and call the police

I suspect I will B, because I still hope to save the world, one day.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2010 in food, school

 

And three weeks zipped by ..

Last time I counted, it was 6 weeks till we left.

Ah, heaps of time.

Now, it is three-and-a-half.

Just to put that in perspective:

  • The girls and I have three weekends left in Australia. This weekend, Fraser and I will be at BorderCon in Albury – so there are really only two weekends left before we go. And we want to have a party the week before we leave – so really only one weekend to pack things up.
  • I have a project to finish for a client. It involves writing a whole battery of PRINCE2 documents. That will be achievable.
  • I have another project to finish for another client. It involves lots more writing. That will be partially achievable, but I will probably have work to do when I get to Germany. The client is not happy with some of the work that I didn’t do, and has asked for me to work on that area. While her faith in me is touching and flattering, I am nervous that it might be misplaced.
  • I have two games to translate. The urgent part of one is half-done. I’m hoping to finish the urgent bits by the middle of the week.
  • I have all sorts of things to organise for our trip. More on this elsewhere. I need to stop overthinking the small stuff.
  • Mum and dad’s house has its first Open-For-Inspection on Thursday. I have not been there for a week. I need to find time to go there.
  • I still do not have a British passport. Nor do the girls have Australian passports (long story). Lots of chasing things up to happen on Monday morning.
  • Fraser and I need to get international drivers permits. We tried to do this on Saturday, but the RACV shop closes at 12 noon (where every other shop in the centre closes at 5pm).
  • I have to go to the luggage shop and ask if they can order the new model of Trunki for Otto. Failing that, I need to order one online. This is becoming urgent.
  • We need to organise parent-teacher meetings with the girls’ teachers. These would normally happen at the end of this term but they have been delayed to early next term.
  • Fraser and I need to move back to our “2 boxes a night” packing philosophy.
  • I need to do invoicing and tax. Urgently.
 

Fuming

OMG!!! I AM SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW!!!

Gaaaahhhhhhhhh

We had a Year 1-2 Curriculum Information Night this evening, at the girls’ school. Relevant for Otto in Year 1, less relevant for Biggie in Year 5 (it actually clashed with Sexuality Education Information Night … more on this later).

Now, the school that the girls to has an experimental curriculum for Years Prep to 2. The first 2 hours of every day are spent in “play and enquiry-based learning” which is hailed as a wonderful thing. Our exposure to this program started the year the Bigster was in Year 2 – after 2 years of “old style school”, there was a switch to Play and Enquiry-based learning. For her, this meant

  • she no longer needed to do any work because she could claim to be doing just about anything (oh no, I am not playing with plastic farm animals and blocks, I am building a Roman villa and these are the animals that live there)
  • she learned that you don’t have to do your best when it’s enough to just do an adequate job.
  • the two bullies in her class had free reign to bully her for 2 hours a day, most days, because the teacher was busy supervising other children.
  • 2 hours less a day, 5 days a week, 40 weeks of the year, of the formal learning that she loved and that saw her looking forward to school every day. That’s 400 hours.
  • an attitudinal shift that saw her dreading school, faking illness and begging to be allowed to stay at home.

It may or may not be relevant that the Year 5 cohort at school is known to be weak at many of the basics – spelling, simple maths, etc. Our Biggie consistently performs well below her capability, and we have concerns about this as we start to think about transition to high school.

You may have noticed that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the program.

In fairness, I will say that it helped Otto transition to school, and that I think many of the Bigster’s problems were triggered by the change from formal to informal learning rather than the program itself.

ANYWAY. ANGRY.

The night started with a welcome from the new principal, a super-high achiever who I think will be wonderful for the school and for whom I have an ocean of respect. Then we had an overview of the program from the literacy co-ordinator. No problems so far.

OMG THEN THE CONSULTANT WHO MANAGES/OVERSEES THE PROGRAM STARTED TO SPEAK.

She started with “You might not think your child is learning from this program” but then explained that that is OUR fault because we are too short-sighted to understand what is actually happening in their brain and in their classroom. This on its own was enough to get my body language screaming JUST GO AWAY NOW – I think she noticed too. She seemed to speak faster and get agitated when she looked in my direction. I would have walked out, but I was in the middle of a row and it would have been rude. Later, I was so far gone that I couldn’t speak – I think I would have started crying if I had had to say anything. I never get that upset – and I REALLY never get angry like I was (still am, to tell the truth) tonight.

But it was what she said at the end of her 20-minute presentation that really blew me away.

“I have never had any sleepless nights worrying about the good of this program … and you can’t really understand it unless you have spent 15 years studying Education and spent 5 years on a Master’s on this type of program.”

Me: OMGWTFLADYPULLYOURHEADINGAAAAAAH.

Can we talk about patronising? Can we talk about defensive and unable to accept criticism? Can we talk about passive-aggressive?

And can we talk about the fact that not a single one of the teachers at school has spent 15 years studying Education or 5 years on a Master’s on this type of program?

That’s right. Apparently the people who are implementing it can’t understand it either.

I barely heard what the Italian and Art teachers spoke about, I was so busy trying to calm myself down.

I think I horrified some of the parents in the classroom afterwards, when I raised some questions with Otto’s teacher and freely owned up to the chip on my shoulder. Teacher took it the right way and showed me enough to reassure me that we’re not headed for the same problems (because each child brings her own set of problems, of course).

And for what it’s worth, Teacher agreed that she felt some of what was said was patronising, too.

If I can calm down enough, I’ll talk about it with the principal tomorrow. You can’t have someone saying things like that to parents.

Meanwhile, Fraser spent most of the evening at Sexuality Education.

Wish I’d had the sense to go with him. That might have been fun 🙂

 
9 Comments

Posted by on March 4, 2009 in children, school

 

Game group, week 1 of 5

On Friday, I met the kids for Boardgames elective for the first time. Biggie and her friend were there (Year 5 – 10-11 yrs old), with four of the five boys (Year 6, 11-12).

I’d put some work into planning a program for the five weeks, which covers a range of game types and, I think, actually teaches the students something about the different types of games that are available.

We started week  1 with introductions.

I went round the table and asked them what games they already enjoy. I thought it was a leading question as one of them had been saying earnestly to another, “I’ll be eighth level by the end of the year” – but apparently schoolboys don’t play D&D any more. Showing my age, there …

So after I established that they all play World of Warcraft, I mentioned that there was a WoW boardgame.

“We HAVE to play that,” they declared – but of course it is much too long for our little one-hour sessions. 

Other games they enjoy include Escape from Colditz – not sure whether that boy has played it or seen it, but he was keen and mentioned it a few times.

“Do you just play games all the time?” asked one of the boys.

“I wish!” said I.

We started our themed weeks with “Push your luck games”. I always find these easy to teach and to enthuse people about – much like Dexterity games, they’re just fun. Of course, most of the fun is in seeing other people fail spectacularly …

Our first game was Incan Gold. This is one of the games that proclaims us to be “tragics” – Fraser was given a copy of Diamant for a birthday, but couldn’t face the thought of his lovely game being taken to school and fondled by grubby fingers, so we picked up Incan Gold as the demo game. Oh no, we are not obsessed at all.

It took perhaps 25 minutes to play a full game of Incan Gold, and the kids were engrossed the entire time. There was even cheering and I’ll swear someone held his breath as I turned a crucial card over. One boy was less confident than the others (I think his English isn’t as good), but even he got into the spirit of things and picked up plenty of treasure. Now, I’ve played this at school many times, and it’s always been a hit – but I was beyond delighted when one of the boys stopped to check how many cards were left and how many of those were potentially bad. I really, really wish I had time to play Settlers with them this term.

After we finished, I passed out some Game record sheets – I always take these when I go to school, and I put them together myself, based in part on comments from Giles Pritchard. These note the name of the game and give it a rating out of 10 (they all thought it was the BEST GAME THEY HAD EVER PLAYED), then ask 3 questions:

  • What did you like about the game?
  • What did you learn from playing the game?
  • What will you do differently next time?

I think they need to put some thought into their answers next time, and not just write “next time, I will win” – worthy goal though that is.

We talked briefly about choosing new books to read – you tend to look at authors you like and things you like to read about – which I used to lead into looking for the name of the game designer or at a familiar theme. Bruno Faidutti, you are now famous at a suburban Victorian primary school.

To finish up, we played a couple of rounds of Can’t Stop (the boys) and Monopoly Express (the girls).

All in all, a big success – the teachers seemed happy, too, and the kids are defnitely looking forward to next week.

Intriguingly, so am I. I always enjoy playing and demoing games, but working with the slightly older group has been so much more rewarding than working with the younger levels. Errm, not that that isn’t rewarding too. But seeing kids that genuinely enjoy not just playing *something* and getting off school work but actually playing a game, exploring it, thinking about why they like it and how to play better – that was just fantastic.

They were keen on the forward plan, too – I thought they might feel a bit cheesed off that they had to work with a parent (and a girl’s parent, at that), but that didn’t seem to be a problem. Poor Biggie was mortified when I told one boy (who tried shit!fuck! when disaster hit him) that if he continued to swear he would be out of the group, but he didn’t try it on again so I suspect it was just a test. (I did let a stray “damn” go without comment)

So here’s the plan. I’ve really concentrated on choosing games that will fit comfortably into our hour, which is really more like 50 minutes by the time they come in and settle, then have to pack up before the end of the day.

Week 2: Co-operative (and un-co-operative) games

Week 3: Games of Memory, deduction and observation

Week 4: Game development (their eyes lit up when I said I could bring in a couple of prototypes for them to look at – I offered 2-person games as an alternative but they want to see the game development stuff)

Week 5: Dexterity games.

After that, end of term. I’ve wondered about having a game session for them, maybe after school one day, where they could try something longer, but I think I will wait and see how things settle. It’s unclear to me whether they will continue to do boardgames next term or whether they rotate to a new group – but I am still considering the option of a games club at school. At the least, I will have seeded it with some older kids who know a few.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2009 in games, school

 

Games club

The Bigster has just arrived home from school and announced that she is doing “Boardgames” as her elective on Friday afternoons.

“Biggie can bring in some games,” the kids announced. One of the teachers looked confused.

“How many games do you have?” she asked.

“Oh, about 600,” said Biggie.

Apparently the teacher screamed a little bit.

Anyway, here is the class’s wish list. It’s a group of 7 or so, mostly Grade 6 (11-12 yr old) boys. Can you tell all the games?

  • Cluedo
  • Loop and liois
  • Ink & gold
  • Mafia – card game
  • card deck
  • Escape Pompei
  • Escape from Colditz
  • Carkazan
  • Beep-beep
  • Monopoly
  • Cash the Mash
  • For sale
  • Mystery ramy
  • Jakle & Hyde
  • Jack the ripper
  • Alcapone
  • Spoon (for 7)
  • Murders in the roe moorge
  • Itchy & Saratchy

Sigh. Spelling is apparently not a strength of this group. (The Bigster insists that I point out that she did not write this list).

I’ll send a note to the teacher-in-charge on Monday, to see what if any involvement she’d like from me. I don’t work Fridays so can arrange to go in most if not all weeks, if wanted.

Not sure that those are the 18/19 games I would choose, though.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2009 in children, school