Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Playing Board Games

As we sat waiting for our breakfast in Cracker Barrel yesterday, I saw a checkers board set up between two rocking chairs. This entertains those who are having to wait for a table and I thought about my students who play board games. Nobody seems to play board games any more. I hear students say they play video games and game boys and maybe even Wii but what about the good old fashioned board games?

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

11 comments:

Ana said...

I definately agree with you on the fact that we cannot throw out old teaching methods especially when it comes to learning languages and skills. But as technology begins to expand more, it is crucial to use it within the classroom as well. Lessons can be combined using technology and the experiences from the teacher. Students will be given the opportunity to learn both ways.

The Book Chook said...

I agree, Pat. And designing and creating board games is wonderful too. Kids get to develop higher order thinking skills at the same time as developing those interpersonal skills you mentioned.

My experience is that even video games are more fun when you're interacting with someone else at the same time!

Mike said...

What a great post Pat. I hadn't thought of all those old games in so many years. Parcheesi! That was the game we played at Grandma's house. I know what you mean about this generation and games. In the non-teaching moments I get a few students together and play Skip-bo with them. They have no concept of taking turns, playing with a partner, or even simple winning strategy. It's amazing. They can do a zillion things on a computer, just them and the screen, but don't get the social function of game playing. Sad.

Alycia said...

I love a good board game! However, I'm a well adjusted young person with good social skills and high level literacy skills!

My students however, different matter! Talk of board games has just given me a great idea for my year 8 fibre theory session I need to do in a few weeks. THanks!

Graham said...

I have to say that I don't agree at all with your post. I think the playing board games is still healthy (at least it is in Europe) and the criticism you have of computer games is both outdated and unfounded (naive even). I have responded by writing my own blog post: http://tiny.cc/kzOj9

loonyhiker said...

@Ana I think balance is important. I love technology and think we need to use more of it in our classrooms but I also think some old ways should not be abandoned.

loonyhiker said...

@The Book Chook My students loved to make up their own board games and work out the rules! It also encouraged teamwork.

loonyhiker said...

@Mike Teaching our students games we played is also a way to pass on a piece of our history to them. I haven't played Skip-bo but will check it out now.

loonyhiker said...

@Graham I enjoyed reading your point of view. Thanks for giving me food for thought. I left a comment on your post too.

Erlinda said...

Great read! Very insightful!

I think it's about adapting and finding the perfect balance between old and new methods. Also I think it varies on your audience. Some children are more receptive to timeless teaching methods while others are more responsive to technology. But for those of you who are want to incorporate the classic board games into the classroom, I highly recommend checking out this article:
http://www.teachhub.com/news/article/cat/14/item/23

loonyhiker said...

@Erlinda Thanks for the link. It was a great article!