Classroom Game Design

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Seeds of an Idea

I teach at an elementary school and have tried to share my love of gaming. I run a board game club once or twice a week, but don’t get a lot of regular attendance. The school is quite small in a rural community so I wanted a way to bring games more into the classroom. I’ve had a few little activities I’ve made up, but this was my first foray into an actual board game type of design. With the end of the year coming up I thought I would make a kind of Frankenstein game containing several different ideas.

The Math involved

Numeracy is very important in the math curriculum and it’s what I start my year with so we can build and practice on skills throughout the year. Due to this I like to do a good amount of review at the end of the year to make sure students are still developing and using skills we’ve learned in the first half of the year. I wanted the game to focus on skills such as skip counting, place value (base ten blocks), estimating, addition and subtraction. I also wanted to throw in patterns as they are very important and then a section that could be used to touch on things such as sorting, ordering numbers and odd/even numbers.

Gameplay

The game as a whole is worker placement. Each person has two pawns used to take actions. The pawns are used similar to games like “Charterstone” and “Asking for Trobils”. You can either place one of your pawns on a spot to take that action or pick up both pawns if they are both on the board. This part of the strategy is a bit lost on the young ones. They don’t quite get the subtle strategy of trying to force their opponents to use a turn picking up their pieces, but I wanted to tack on some mechanic for how many actions they could take. So, there are really no rounds. Just a series of turns until someone reaches the end game. Each person starts with a certain amount of money as some spaces require money. I decided to make the end game more of a race. Depending on the students abilities it is a race to 15 or 20 points.

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game in progress

 

The spots on the board that can be chosen all do various things. Estimating can earn you cash that you need at two other spots. You can also earn cash and points at another location where you create patterns. Cash earned can be use to buy base ten blocks used to build constucts depicted on cards. Once built the student counts the base ten blocks and gets points based on the difficulty of the construct. Cash can also be used to acquire cards with various math problems with a range in difficulty. This space can be altered depending on the grade and can be used to do various types of operations. These cards once completed let you cash them in at the mart to move a player chip around a set number of spaces on the board. When you pass designated spots on the track you get to look at a secret card adjacent to that spot. The cards in the secret pouches all have something in common such as shape, size, colour, odd/even numbers etc. Players get more points being the first, second, etc. person to figure out the sorting rule. This could even be used to find out all the numbers and then their required to put them ascending order.

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Some of the cards from the game

 

Thoughts and Musings

The students seem to really have taken to the game and quite enjoy it. This is of course a work in progress and there are things to tweak. I’d really like to make a really good looking copy once I’m happier with where things are at. I really want to try and incorporate games more into the classroom as they really engage all students and make learning so much fun.