Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Round the houses - make a meal out of a simple game!

Obviously kids will forever be wanting to 'play games' rather than having to 'study'. The nifty teacher will manage very vocal demands for a game with the need to make sure that any game is not a 'throw away' event - chewing up precious time without actually doing something...rough input of language; recycling vocab/grammar or dialogues; generating a need to read; interacting with peers; coping with losing too!

Just before the holidays we had a super hot, humid day & any text book work would have head heads lolling in no time. I love this little board game because there's "No English" on it - so when we open up the box and have a lot it's not at all daunting...just very colourful & no obvious 'class stuff' to get in the way of having fun.
I wasn't planning on spending so long on the game - we all know attention spans wither in the heat, and notoriously short for younger lads in particular. However, these two decided they were going to win this game, no matter how long it took!

(A teachery aside: It annoys me when teachers feel they have to explain the rules of a game first. If you do that fully, you'll need to do it in L1: pointless & difficult. Also if you do, you loose all that adrenalin rush of opening the box & wanting to play. You also paint yourself into a corner, if you want to adapt your 'rules' later eg run out of time, make sure you don't have a massive 'loser', stretch it out a bit etc. Kids cotton on quickly enough - get started asap and let them find out as you play; they'll naturally ask you questions and discuss amongst themselves, dicovering/exploring/checking theories. Strategies to actually win > great reason to play again...but then you have to remember the words you were using etc.)

This 'no English' game clearly had these two thinking hard - and being much more stroppy with each other about completing a full question or answer than I usually am (and I do insist children produce more than monosyllabic responses), and picking on each others' pronunciation or time-wasting! They used English throughout to manage the game - 'my turn/your turn/miss a turn', 'pass the dice please', counting etc. Key vocab was furniture (which we have not studied thereby generating a need to ask me, the oracle, for new words first - then each other if they forgot afterwards) and colours/size/shape adjectives. To win, they had to move around the board and collect furniture to fill their removal van, but they could lose items to each other 'on demand' (ie asking each other then janken = rock/scissors/paper ).

The best games for me have two results for players - first past the post, but another criteria which the teacher can manipulate - in this case, whose van was fuller. Both lads therefor won, and the teacher 'lost' (again).