Rules of Play

othello-games-002When 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.

About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified teacher and loves her work. After a forty year career in the classroom, she continues to support teachers. Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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32 Responses to Rules of Play

  1. Jennifer Farinholt says:

    I’m quite partial to the colon. This could be because I LOVE to make lists: things to do, things to buy, ways to improve…

    Working in PR, quotation marks are also a big part of my life. I should mention, I don’t have tremendous punctuation confidence but my journalism professor Mike Spear told me to “just keep writing.”

    My favorite game is Scrabble.
    Take care all,
    Jennifer (Lenny’s mom)

    • ourclasswrites says:

      Thanks for getting the ball rolling! I hope other parents will share, too! Whoops! There I go overusing my favorite punctuation mark again!!
      Everytime I write, I have to edit them out!

  2. Stacey says:

    I like ellipses. I probably overuse them, but I love the way that they make my voice (or a character’s voice) trail off in a sentence!

  3. Del says:

    My favorite punctuation mark is the period. Period.

    My favorite games are bid whist (cards) and acey-deucy (a variety of backgammon). And, I believe in playing to win. Period.

  4. Tricia says:

    My fifth grade classroom had a huge game corner for poor weather (which we had a lot of in Buffalo) and free choice time. The students loved to play Battleship (coordinate geometry), Mastermind and Pente. They also loved puzzles. We had several of the 9 square puzzles where the heads and tails of different objects had to match. They were also fond of the puzzle of the U.S.

    The game we love here at home (I have a second grader) is Qwirkle.

  5. parkerspoets says:

    I’m partial to the comma, although I don’t always use it correctly. A properly placed comma can put emphasis on a phrase and change the meaning of a sentence altogether.
    Shakespeare used punctuation partly to tell the actors of his plays how to speak the lines as he wanted them. Sometimes he put in punctuation for comic effect as well.
    As for games, I grew up playing Othello,(wait, isn’t that a Shakespeare play?) and Mastermind, as well as a game called Payday. I love the fact that now Robert loves to play these games with me. He has also recently taught me to play chess, which I really like.

  6. Lorna Knowles Blake says:

    As a child, I played chess, backgammon, checkers and TONS of card games. I didn’t live in the USA, so the games I encountered tended to be classics that were easily found and played everywhere we lived. Later, I learned to love CLUE and MONOPOLY. My American daughter taught me about CANDYLAND and the game of LIFE. I learned to love board games! Now I play them with my step-grandchildren who are killer players– I have to keep all my wits about me if I want to win.

    Ms. Campbell makes a great point about punctuation, rules and fairness. If we follow the shared rules we can have a common conversation where we all understand each other. And, if we all know the rules, we can sometimes break them, like the poet eecummings who decided to write without any capital letters or punctuation marks. Can you write a poem like mr cummings did?

    I love punctuation marks (the ? is my favorite because I think good writers need to be curious–another way to say that good writers are born snoops and detectives–because if you don’t want to know how the world works, why bother to write about it? See: I ended with a question mark. I would love to know what your class thinks is the most popular punctuation mark, so please write back to this curious person.

  7. Libby says:

    I’m probably overfond of the semicolon; it lets me run my sentences on without going too wild.

    By the way, I just tagged you with an award, but you may not want to pass it on–the grammar on it is terrible!

  8. Amy Brown says:

    The parenthesis is my all time favorite. It’s like a little thought bubble that lets a reader hear the usual mumbling under the breath I do in person.

    Clue is serious time in my house. A hardback book is necessary to hide my excessive note taking:)

    And my 11th graders play a lot of CatchPhrase with me. Who doesn’t love a game with yelling and Girls vs Boys????

  9. LBCjr says:

    – My favorite mark of punctuation has always been the colon. For as long as I can remember. In a title a colon is used to set of the subtitle, a small explanation of the title, and I definitely like to explain things. But in a sentence, a colon is used to suggest and invite all that is to be produced, all the things that emanate from what you have to say. And I definitely like that, feeling bountiful and unlimited. As if whatever one has to say can and will produce more. Colons are all about the options and avenues and choices that can come next. I love choices – the identification and production of choices, the investigation and consideration of choices, the tangents and side-tracks that you encounter and learn from when you explore those choices. That’s what colons do for you. They invite you to be thorough, but they encourage you not to feel limited.

  10. Patti Lynch says:

    Reading about games in your classroom made me nostalgic for the opportunity to share learning strategies and celebrations with you. We created board games, based on SOL’s to share with other classes. Finding your blog is sunshine in my life!

  11. VCU Professor Belcher says:

    Hello to Mrs Campbells wonderful third grade writers I applaud your study of punctuation Its most certain your written words can be misunderstood without it In my college writing class at VCU we just read the story Punctuation Takes a Vacation Have you read it It really makes you appreciate puctuation because youre left with a troublesome mess without it as you can see from my email I hope youll all be nice to your commas periods question marks and exlamations points so theyll stick around to help you convey your important thoughts

    Oh by the way my favorite favorite favorite game is Mancala I love the way the rocks feel and the way they sound when I drop them

  12. Wendy Martin says:

    Hard to pick a favorite punctuation mark.

    I would have to say the comma, since it makes writing more conversational.

    I love the colon for brevity and bulleting. And the semicolon is nice to show off with sometimes.

  13. Daniela Jacobs says:

    Hmmm….I don’t think I have given thought to my favoirite punctuation mark. As a young girl, I most definately loved the exclamation point. It’s excitement made me draw little things out of the period at the bottom (hearts, happy faces, stars, peace signs, you name it!). As an adult, I think I like elipses…..I like the idea of forcing the reader to think before continuing!

    Some of my favorite games include: Sorry! Battleship, Othello, Uno…..does anyone remember how to play the card game “spit”???? I used to LOVE that one!

  14. Caitlin says:

    My favorite punctuation mark is the comma. Mostly, because I like to make lists and they often come in handy with run-on sentences.

    As for my favorite game, I take “Phase-10” very seriously.

  15. Tara Kelley says:

    Hello Mrs.Campbell and class,
    I am a student at VCU and my professor, Mrs.Belcher, told our class about your cool webpage! My favorite punctuation mark is the question mark because I am extreme curious person. There are so many questions to ask about the world!
    My two favorite games are “Spite and Malice” and “Life.”

  16. Taylor Allen says:

    I think my favorite punctuation would have to be… the exclamation mark!

    It’s just always so excited, and everyone needs a little excitement in life, and in writing.

    One of my favorite games actually has an exclamation mark in the name: Sorry!

  17. BreAnne Buch says:

    Good Afternoon Mrs. Cambell and her class,

    My favorite punctuation mark is the question mark! “?”. I absolutely love the question mark because it leads you to think of an answer! There are so many questions we are constantly asking ourselves everyday! I love it!

    My favorite childhood game is “Guess Who?,” and guess what? It has a question mark in it’s name!

    I also enjoyed playing “A Bucket of Cherries” and “Monopoly”!

    I hope you all have a wonderful day!


    BreAnne Buch

  18. Ashley Kirby says:

    Hello Mrs. Campbell and students,

    My favortite puncuation mark by far is the exclamation mark. I love being cheerful about life and having the exclamation mark makes every sentence more exciting!

    I am a huge fan of “Candy Land.” As a child I played this game all the time with friends and family. Now as an adult I still love to play this game as well.

  19. Katherine Henry says:

    My favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation mark because it shows emotion in writing. You can use it when you are scared and want to SCREAM! You can also use it when you are VERY EXCITED!

    There are so many games I like to play. I like Candy Land and Monopoly, but I think my favorite game is Cranium. I like this game because you play Charades, answer trivia questions, play Pictionary, and humm songs all in one game. It never gets boring!

  20. Nikita Quiero says:

    Hello Mrs. Campbell and her 3rd grade class,

    My favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation mark. I always catch myself using one when it is not needed. It shows emotion and attitude which I have a lot of. The exclamation mark just fits my personality perfectly.

    I love Mancala, Sorry, and Uno!!!! I challenge anyone!!!!!!!

  21. John Huh says:

    Hello Mrs. Campbell and her 3rd grade class,
    My favorite punctuation mark would have to be the question mark. Even as a young kid, I was very curious and asked a lot of questions.

    There is a game my family and I like to play called Cranium. This game is a great game for people of all ages. I believe the game brings out the artistic side of the players. The game gets even more interesting when the players draw with their eyes closed. Is anyone up for a game of Cranium?!

  22. Kristen Fisher says:

    I am a huge fan of the exclamation point! I find myself using it at the end of every sentence of informal writing! It helps express emotion and brings writing to life! I tend to overuse the exclamation point, but can’t help being excited to write about it!
    My favorite game is Scattergories, it can never get old, because each new list has to start with a new letter. It is also extremely fun when you play with partners and bounce ideas off of one another!

  23. Abbie says:

    As you know…I LOVE elipses…
    A Kindergarten teacher explained them to her class as “a (thought) sentence that isn’t finished”. I love that and use it with my 2nd graders. Plus, I use them in my speech…have you noticed?

    My favorite game is Scattegories, do you know it? and, Mrs. Jacobs, that game “spit”…I NEVER could figure it out in high school, I was never got to sit at the “cool-kid” table at lunch b/c of it…maybe you could show me how it is done sometime!:)

  24. Lindsey S. says:

    My favorite is the comma. I love throwing in commas eventhough I get a little too happy wiwth them and put them in all the wrong places!I try though!

  25. Patrick Dillon says:

    I must say I have a love/hate relationship with the comma, because I love to put commas all over my writing, because it easily connects my thoughts, one to the next, but sometimes it gets just a little too wordy, and then it ends up looking something like this run-on sentence!

    Favorite game though, would have to be Cranium, because it allows you to draw, act, write, speak, yell, and use language in creative and fun ways while always making you think.

  26. Stephanie Crews says:

    “The class that plays together stays together.” I love this philosophy! 🙂

    The elipse…
    I just love how it lingers.

  27. Antionette says:

    The comparrison of games to punctuation marks is cute. Punctutation as a game decribes perfectly how you can use punctutation in so many different ways as long as you remember the rules to play.

  28. Antionette says:

    I love the comparison of games puncutation. If you remember the rules you can use puncutation in so many ways. This is cute.

  29. Gloria Maldonado says:

    Playing games can be fun when all the participants follow the rules. It is essential to follow rules because it makes the game fun and interesting. Children can learn so much by playing games. They learn to share, follow rules, their minds are constantly working, they learn to play fair, etc. Games are fun!!!

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