26 February 2014

Let's Play!

Seeing an idea that was mentioned as a "wouldn't it be nice if we could" kind of possibility at a beginning of the year staff meeting come to fruition is wonderfully satisfying.  In August, sitting with two new teachers at my school as we began to prepare for the school year, the subject of board games came up and how valuable games like chess are for students to learn.  We have been playing a lot of board games at home over the past few years, so I shared that there were a lot of other strategy games that are great for kids.

This conversation led to the idea of starting a game club if we could find a way to buy games.  This possibility led me to create a Donors Choose project to buy games for a club, which Matt shared on Reddit and which the Reddit board game community funded within 24 hours.  This support led to a board game club that met at school for 3 and a half months, two days a week, involving almost 40 children.

The game club ended today.  In the fall and spring I help lead GOFAR, so the game club filled the months in between.  It has been one of the best things I have done as a teacher.  It was so much fun to see the kids get excited about new games and to be able to interact with them while playing.  I am sorry to have reached the last day.

Some of the students came to game club with experience playing some of the games, but most hadn't played anything more challenging than Monopoly or Yahtzee.  After a few weeks they each had a favorite new game.  I wouldn't let them get settled playing the same thing week after week, though.  I made them try new games and their favorites shifted as their repertoire grew.

Many of the games I bought for the club I had played before.  Most Isaac had played,as well, so I knew they were on the ability level of the students I would have in the club.  I also brought additional games from home and introduced the kids to some cooperative games.  Even today I brought in a new game and it was a hit.

Some kids asked for games from game club for Christmas and were even trying to convince parents to buy something they had played this week so they could keep playing at home.  I stopped counting how many times I was asked if we could do another game club.   

All of this from a chance conversation back in August.  You never know what can happen if you don't stop after the "wouldn't it be nice if we could" thought.

So here are the games we played:
Settlers of Catan
Love Letters
Castle Panic
Forbidden Island
The Resistance
Pecking Order
Smash Up

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