In previous posts we've covered my deficiencies when it comes to long-term planning and organization- so it should be no surprise that I always sort of "wing it" during the last couple of weeks. And this is bad. I am bad, Bad, BAD for not planning. I have come to the realization that I should over-plan my first month and LAST month of teaching. And honestly, I probably came to that conclusion ten years ago, and have yet to actually do it. Flawed. Flawed person here.
Anyhow- here's a little something I stumbled upon this year. Like the Three Little Pigs and the Continents- it came to me at the last second, a good two minutes MAYBE before the bell rang and the kids came in. I was needing something that could keep the kids busy during the pack-up/sorting/expulsion of junk fiesta I've been having. First Thought: BOARD GAMES
So here's how it went down. We first had a group talk about board games- what they looked like, what parts they all had to have, etc. Even got a little legitimate with the discussion when we compared this to how maps have specific parts, and how a board game can be like a map. Whoa! Accidental Super Teacher ALERT.
And then we talked about all the different themes a board game could have IF - here's the kicker part- all the questions had to do with things we learned during the year. Kids shouted out different themes and units until we had the entire board covered in what we had learned about. Time to pick a theme and get creating!
I gave them a large piece of construction paper, four binder clips (for the character pieces), some cardstock for question cards, and free access to the art supplies. As I was cleaning, I came across a large collection of bottle caps I had from last summer when I thought I would be making tons of board games. And the nutty kittens went wild and almost all of them traded in their binder clips for bottle caps. For serious. It was like gold. It made me wonder if I could actually get away with bottle caps as a regular prize....that's pretty awful isn't it?
We handled the how many spaces to move angle by using a spinner. We traced a circle using the oodles of masking tape I have (can we say 11 rolls? And this is not including another drawer full of duct tape...) And then splitting the spinner into three sections for 1,2, and 3 space moves. And then I taught them how to attach a paper clip with a brass brad and flick it with their finger to make it spin. You would have thought I had shown them the secret to the universe. Brass brads, bottle caps, Mr. Sketch markers- these are the precious metals of elementary school.
The first day was spent on construction, the second day they made up their question cards and without me even having to say anything or transition them, they started collecting into groups and playing each other's games together. Blown away, I was- says Yoda. It was an "academic hum" - the kind where you can tell kids are talking, but about something actually relevant.
My favorite moment: this is how she decided to deal with these two boys blurting out the answers to her question cards. "He has to answer it HIMSELF!"
At least one little kitten kept the binder clips...also note the "slide". A common feature on many of the games. "People like to get to the finish FAST" says one game player.
In the midst of the process.
Bottle caps, spinner, and lo and behold! A bad luck card- "go back 8 spaces". Ruthless.
What did I get out of this as a teacher:
1) I really liked the part where I taught them about the spinner. It got me thinking about all the little crafty things I know how to do because of my Mom and Dad, and how not everybody gets to learn those sorts of things. I wish I had more opportunities to teach my kids things like that.
2) On the whole- board game review isn't a bad idea all year long. My kids were really into it- and it was great to hear them shouting out answers and being excited when they were right.
3) When I reflect on how I had originally planned on making all of the games- I'm left with WHY? The kids were more invested in the games they made. They were more excited about them- they got to try out many different types of games and not just one. I know I am not going to sit down and make 23 games about the same topic. But they would.
4) So if I did do this sort of assignment at the end of each major unit of study- I could concentrate on teaching them one particular board game layout, one particular way of moving spaces, one particular way of asking the questions. Do that six different times over the year, and as a culminating activity they can create a game using any of those previous skills learned to review the year. As long as each time I did it the game was DIFFERENT, it shouldn't lose too much interest.
Do any of you have the kids create games?