I remember Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) games like Trouble, Parcheesi, Sorry, Monopoly, Risk, Headache, Clue, Mouse trap, Chutes and Ladders, and Candy Land. Also older games like checkers, chess, and backgammon. Those were so much fun, not to mention all the skills that I was learning at the same time. I loved to play games so much and hated when I couldn’t find anyone to play with me. When I wander through flea markets and antique shops now, I feel nostalgic as a I see these board games sitting out gathering dust or being ignored for game boys and Xbox stuff.
Many of the technology based games seem to isolate the students and keep them from interacting with others. Even if they play online games, they are missing out on seeing facial expressions and body language which are very important in learning communication skills. Learning interpersonal skills is an important job skill needed in the adult world and many people are looking for jobs without these skills. As stated in Wikipedia, “Having positive interpersonal skills increases the productivity in the organization since the number of conflicts is reduced. In informal situations, it allows communication to be easy and comfortable. People with good interpersonal skills can generally control the feelings that emerge in difficult situations and respond appropriately, instead of being overwhelmed by emotion.”
Elementary level board games can be used to teach counting, colors, and reading. Learning to plan strategies is an important skill on the higher level games. By learning to take turns, laughing, and having fun without being hateful, students learn many social skills through playing board games. Critical thinking takes place during these games.
When I first introduced Trouble to my students, they acted like I was teaching them a foreign language. Eventually they understood what they had to do and they loved it! After that we moved on to the game Sorry, and I even made them apologize to the person when they landed on them and sent them back home. It was so refreshing to see them playing nicely and having fun. During these games, we even had to address the issue of cheating so it was truly a learning experience for all.
I know technology is important and I even feel it is essential to the learning environment but I feel that we can’t throw away many of the earlier methods of learning either. Many of the “old” ways were effective and just as important as technology is. I believe that playing board games teaches many skills that are needed in order to be successful in life.
Original image: 'Wanna play?' http://www.flickr.com/photos/85966598@N00/293314242