School Game Program - The First of Many Victories...
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Yes, you (and any casual observer nearby) can certainly tell when you have an obsession when it begins permeating other aspects of your life.

I'm a teacher. I love board games. Inevitably there was going to be a collision.

I've agitated for some time that a school NEEDS a game program, whether it's a game club, after hours thing, whatever...a school without a game program is going to cause strong men to cry. cry

So, after many hours spent whining to the principal, to the deputy, to the other teachers, to the...well lets just say that after a lot of cogent debate, after much well articulated and healthy discussion about the practicalities of such a program, potential benefits, potential costs, and what it was exactly that was wrong with my mental condition it was finally agreed upon. The school was to buy some games.

Seeing this as the first of many victories I decided to waste no time, I put aside the family tree I've been working on which traces my roots back to Hercules (through Alexander of course), and began in earnest on a new project.

The following list includes the games my school has bought, rules changes I have introduced (the students are well aware of the rule - Mr P. MUST be VICTORIOUS), and how well they have worked.

This is the first victory, I will add more as the program continues. If you have used any of these games (or others) in a school environment please feel free to add your experiences to the mix!
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1. Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1597]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Chicken Cha Cha Cha

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 20 min

Description: This is an interesting variation on a memory game, in the centre of a circle of tiles there are a bunch of face-down tiles, on the down side face of these tiles is a picture. Players move their chickens around the tokens on the outside by remembering where all the pictures on the eggs in the middle are. If one chicken passes another it takes a feather from it, the chicken that ends up with all the feathers is the winner.

Skills: Memory skills, pattern recognition, basic processes.

The game program is for grades 1-2 and 3-4 (ages 6-10 app). I have used this game with both groups (I have one class a week during school hours, the 3-4's for an hour, the 1-2's for 45min - both classes for 4 weeks and then I'll swap to a different 1-2 and a different 3-4 class). This is an excellent game - the kids seem to love it, especially jumping over each other and stealing feathers.

The aim of the program is to foster social skills - and this game has been fantastic for that. My only worry is that this is a game where someone with a good memory is always going to beat someone with a poor memory. still - since the kids play the game over 2 'sessions' - at most 2 hours. I don't think it will be a problem.

I haven't changed any of the rules for this game.
 
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2. Board Game: Dancing Eggs [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2055]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Dancing Eggs

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 15min

Description: Players roll the dice and gather rubber eggs – which they have to hold in awkward ways. When a player drops an egg the game ends and whoever has the most points after that (for their eggs) is the winner.

Skills: Gross motor skills, reaction times, processing speed.

This game has been a huge hit. Kids LOVE playing it - in fact the only problem I've had is settling an argument about who got to go first (the one player not arguing hehehehehe - sweet justice hehehe).

I haven't changed the rules of this one at all and have used it both with the 1-2's and the 3-4's.
 
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3. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1135]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Gulo Gulo

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 30 min

Description: Players move forward by picking little coloured balls out of a basket at the end of a track, if you disturb the balls too much however the alarm will be raised and your Gulo (wolverine) will go rushing back the way he was coming. The Gulo who gets to the end of the path first is the winner.

Skills: Colour recognition, problem solving, fine and gross motor skills.

I was surprised in that Chicken Cha Cha Cha was more popular than this (at least in the sessions so far). I used this game with both the 1-2's and the 3-4's with much success. The game plays quickly, is attractive and novel. I didn't change any of the rules.
 
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4. Board Game: Halli Galli [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:5080]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Halli Galli

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 10 min

Description: When a player sees five fruit of the same sort he rings the bell, if the bell ringer I correct they get the cards if not the lose some cards. The player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.

Skills: Pattern recognition, number facts, gross and fine motor skills, memory

This game is hectic and the kids have really enjoyed playing it. I haven't changed the rules at all.

I have only used this with the 1-2's so far.
 
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5. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:765]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Hey! That's my Fish!

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 15 min

Description: Players construct a board made up of tessellating hexagonal pieces, they then move their penguins around the board. Penguins move in the same way as do rooks/castles in chess. When a penguin is moved the player removes the board piece the penguin has left, each board piece has a number of fish on it, from 1 to 3. During the game the board will shrink, as more pieces are claimed, at the end of the game the player with the most fish is the winner.

Skills: Spatial skills, basic processes, problem solving.

This is an excellent spatial awareness game - I was particularly impressed with two comments by kids who played this game. I asked for something they had learned and something they had enjoyed.
Answers: "I learned that it was good to try and block off a piece of the board for yourself" and "The best thing about playing the game was having fun with the people in the group" (people that boy does not and would not normally play with).

I didn't modify the rules - though the set-up time for this game was annoying for the kids when they went to play a second or third time. I've also only used it with teh 3-4's.
 
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6. Board Game: Expedition [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1913]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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National Geographic Expedition

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 30min

Description: Players extend one of three expeditions around the world in an attempt to ensure that all of their cities are passed through by an expedition.

Skills: SOSE connections, geography skills, problem solving.

This has been one of the real winners for the game program. If I had said to the Principal and school leaders that the children would be looking for places like Varunga and Chang Chen at the ame time as having fun I would have been laughed at. This was the game I didn't tell them much about, this was the game I said "come and have a look at this..."

This is a great game, but also a very complex game. To play this game I modified the rules like so:

I left out the player 'dots' completely.

I left out the '6' cards on the side that everyone could take from

I left out the specific rule stating that players can only claim when an expedition is IN the location. Now children can claim whenever they notice that an expedition is in, or has passed through one of thier locations.


The kids have really anjoyed this game - they haven't managedto finish it properly yet - but I declare the winner as the one to have claimed the most by the time the session is over. Excellent for worl geography - one of the kids said "I found out where places were, and I found out about places I had never heard of"

I only used this game with the 3-4's - the second session allowed me to re-introduce the '6' cards on the side that anyone could claim - otherwise the modified game stayed as modified.
 
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7. Board Game: Pick Picknic [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1631]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Pick Pickinic

Players: 2-6

Playing Time: 30min

Description: Players use cards to bid on various types of corn. Whoever has the most valuable collection of corn at the end of the game is the winner (there are also some special cards).

Skills: Bluff, double-guessing, maths skills, basic processes.

I used this game only with the 1-2's. This is an attractive game - though perhaps a little long in retrospect. When I play it again I will halve the amount of 'corn' pieces.

I did modify the rules:

In the first session I taught the game using only green corn pieces. In the second game I introduced the three varieties. In the third session (this week with 3-4's), I will halve the amount of corn in each colour.

Excellent game - the kids really enjoyed it - especially the bluffing aspect using the fox cards.
 
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8. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:828] [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Tier Auf Tier

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 15min

Description: Players roll the dice and stack various types of wooden animals onto a crocodile piece without upsetting the other pieces.

Skills: Fine motor skills, spatial skills.

I used this game with both the 1-2's and the 3-4's. This game went down a treat - the kids loved stacking the animals.

The only rules modifications I used were:

With the 1-2's the kids got up to 2 of the animals when the tumble.

With the 3-4's the kids got up to 5 of the animals when the tumble.

Either way the kids really enjoyed the game.
 
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9. Board Game: 10 Days in Africa [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1894]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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10 Days in Africa

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 30 min

Description: Using a range of transport types players compete to be the first to chart a 10 journey across Africa

Skills: Pattern recognition, SOSE (Studies Of Societies and Environment) connections, Geography skills, problem solving.

This was the first game demo-ed in the new 'cycle' (see below for more on the structure of the program). Kids responded well to this game, we have quite an emphasis on Africa at our school as we have quite a few Congalese, Sudanese, and Kenyan refugees. This game fits in well - with kids from refugee situations we wanted to able to offer something relevant to them culturally, something that reflected 'them' to an extent.

The only rule change was - in the first game the slots (days 1-10) were filled at random. I also had the cards 'open' so I could talk about game strategy and rules with them as the game progressed.

Comments: 'I learned where countries were', 'it was fun finding the places'
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10. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:161] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Carcassone

Players: 2-5

Playing Time: 30-60 min

Description: This game involves laying tiles with features on them like roads, cities. The tiles laid must match up with those already played. Players receive points for completing features.

Skills: Spatial skills, pattern recognition, addition skills, planning, thought. Possible relevance to SOSE if you are looking at France or exploration.

The second game of the new 'cycle' - quite a complex one to explain in many ways. The kids responded very well to this - they loved the spatial relationships you build in this game and enjoyed watching the map 'grow'.

Rules modifications:

No farmers.

I never included 'sheilds' when scoring cities.

I cut out the river completely.

Comments by the kids: 'I really enjoyed building up the map'. 'I noticed that people wouldn't help me when my cities got big' (I am surprised!!).
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11. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:982]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Cartagena

Players: 2-5

Playing Time: 45 min

Description: In this game players are trying to be the first to get all their pirates out of the tunnels below Cartegena and into the waiting escape boat.

Skills: Problem solving, basic processes.

Third game - surprising simple to explain. I used the Jamaican Version (secret hands), so there were no other rules modifications. This game worked well - though some of the players burned through thier hands and were left with no real actions available to them (which in itself was a great learning experience!).

Comments: 'I learned that you have to move backwards if you want to go forwards'.
 
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12. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:670]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Incan Gold

Players: 4-8

Playing Time: 30min

Description: Players take the risk of continuing an expedition in an effort to find more treasure or decide to turn back – ensuring they keep what they have found.

Skills: Maths skills, basic processes, addition, especially excellent for division skills.

An excellent game for division (which coincidently we are looking at at the moment). The kids went wild over this game - WILD! Great Whoops! when greedy players were punished for thier gluttony, plenty of table talk, catcalls and cries! This was a real hit. The kids loved getting the treasures, as well as the 'risk' taking aspect of 'going on'.

The only rules modification I used for this was that I left out the artifact cards.

Comments 'I hated it when I went on after XXX said the next card had to be a 17 and I was'killed' by spiders', 'we loved it when XXX believed us and was killed by spiders' (hehehehehe) - all the kids were keen to play again.
 
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13. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1171]
Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Pickomino

Players: 2-7

Playing Time: 20min

Description: Players roll the dice and claim different valued tiles – each tile also has a number of worms depicted on it, the player with the most worms at the end of the game is the winner.

Skills: Maths skills, basic processes, problem solving.

I have used this game with both groups of kids, 1-2s and 3-4s. Both groups respond well to it - the rules are easy enough to teach and grasp. Though the game can drag and not 'seem' as interesting as other games if there are a few being played. If the kids seem somewhat distracted I usually ask and talk about strategies ('sure - you could take that one 5, but what if you roll three 5s with the rest of the dice next turn' or 'sure, you can keep rolling, but what are your chances of ending up with a failed roll', or 'sure, you could roll those other dice, but right now you could take a dice from soandso'.

A little bit of this discussion usually tunes the kids into the subtleties of the game, and gets them thinking about how they can affect the outcome rather than just watching what the dice roll.

I also ALWAYS play the shorter version of the game with both the returned tile and the highest tile being turned over on a failed roll.

All together and excellent game once the kids are tuned into the fact that their choices can have a big effect on thier final total.

Quote: "I loved it when I took the worms from soandso, that was the best fun - it stopped them winning"
 
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