I recently came across a blog post titled “Board Games Will Save Us” and it caught my eye because of the large picture of a cribbage board at the top of the page. I have such wonderful memories of playing board games with my family growing up and I hope to share those types of experiences with my son in the future. Most significantly, I cherish the many hours that I spent playing cribbage with my father (and my sister – we had a one of those 3 player boards!) My father used the game as a way to spend quality time with his daughters, and he taught us important skills without us having a clue we were “learning.” We were having fun, competing and giggling. But, as an elementary school student, this time playing cribbage helped me learn how to add, subtract and multiply in real time. How to make 15s? How many points to peg? How many points is a double run of 4? I was authentically motivated to memorize that basic math so I could beat my dad and I also gained valuable experience with winning and losing. I didn’t really like to lose, but I learned to take it in stride and ask for help so that I could learn from my mistakes.
Over the past few years, we have talked a lot at school about growth mindset and helping students develop the mentality that will help them see mistakes as an opportunity for learning. Games are a great way to do this! At school, online formative assessment tools like Kahoot, Quizlet live, and Quizizz turn a “quiz” into a game and students often can’t wait to start the game “again” in order to improve their score and learn from their mistakes. Can’t say that happens often with a paper and pencil quiz.
Students really enjoy playing these games, but we all know that sometimes we need a break from technology. More and more, my classes are asking me to take out the “low tech” games of the past, because interacting with each other face to face is also lots of fun and very important to our relationships. This year, our world language department is turning to games like Jenga, tangrams, Story cubes, Scrabble and others to get the year off to to an engaging and productive start! I’m excited to include more games (both high and low tech) in to class this year!