Friday, November 9, 2012

"The Game"

I use a couple of different board games in my room, like Blokus and Connect Four. Except I just use them as toys, not as actual games. When I was growing up, I developed a lot of skills from board games. For instance, I'm fairly certain that a large part of my understanding of ten-ness comes from the Monopoly board.

I decided, because of this, to create "the game" for my students. The game has no limits. It is simply a pathway of squares. I think I googled "game board template" and cut out the pieces I could find.

If you've played a lot of board games, "the game" has very few rules. For kindergartners, though, there is actually a good bit to keep up with.

You start at the beginning. You roll the die. You count the squares. You don't, however, count the square you are already on. You count even the squares that you friends are on. Oh, and did I mention you count the squares in order? You also roll again if the square says roll again. But for the most part you have to let another person roll after you do. It's a concept called taking turns. If you persist in rolling enough times, you may end at the finish.

Unless, of course, you start at the finish or you skip half the squares or you roll again just because you wanted to or you forget what order everybody was going in to begin with.

I started playing the game because I wanted my children to practice subitizing by rolling the die and knowing the number without having to count. I wanted them to practice counting, too, though... thus the squares they moved their pieces along. I liked the idea of them taking turns, too, of course.

We played the game in small groups and mostly followed the rules... because someone with a good bit of experience (ME) was playing along. It was turned over to independent centers though, and now, quite frankly, I don't care if they make up new rules or create a whole new purpose of the game. In fact, if they can do that cooperatively, that's even better than the things I was trying to teach them.

Another reason I created the game was to pass on something that I love to my students. In my family a game is not on a screen. It's in a box... a CARDBOARD box.

The great thing about the game is that elements can be added. The pink and green squares easily turn into two card drawing piles with any number of things on them. For today though, we're just playing "the game." That is simply all that it is.

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