When the rain comes down, the games come out in Room 204 –and I’m amazed at what we learn. Introducing games to my third graders was an intuitive move, but theory and reason weren’t far behind.
I looked for traditional games (no beeping or cartoon characters) with sensible rules of play. Duration was a consideration — Monopoly is a great game, but it takes too long to play in school. And then there’s that ultimate test: would I want to play the game? I can tell you I would rather go to the dentist than play Trouble or Candy Land.
Is there room for playing games in a SOL testing year? There is always room for games that encourage strategic thinking, sustained attention, and quiet social interaction. The class that plays together stays together.
Something else happens as we play Othello, Blokus, Upwards, SET, and Connect 4. We learn how rules work to make the game fun. It doesn’t take children long to see that if one person doesn’t follow the rules, it is unfair to the others in the game. Hmmm…”Rules and laws protect the rights of others…” Wait! That’s an SOL!
We play cards, too — as Shakespeare probably did. Card games were big in Elizabethan times. You can still see a touch of the English Renaissance if you look at the knave (I mean jack) in a deck of cards. Recently, Mr. Jefferson (Kemonte’s dad) taught us a fun and fast card game. I am sure your child would love to teach it to you.
There are conventions to be learned in playing a game: winning and losing gracefully; taking turns; and caring for the materials, so others might enjoy them. If you ignore the rules of play, meaning breaks down and chaos ensues.
There are conventions in writing, too. Punctuation existed before Shakespeare, but he took it to a new level. Shakespeare used punctuation to make sure his words were read the right way. Punctuation locks voice in place. It is powerful for a young writer to learn that punctuation is not a mystery that belongs to teachers –it is a tool, and it belongs to the writer. It’s the secret handshake. Punctuation marks are simply rules of play. Like games, they can be a lot of fun.
And what about you? What is your favorite punctuation mark? What is your favorite game? Share it with a child. Share it here. It’s your move.