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September 2002
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Games Children Play
by Linda C. Joseph, Columbus (Ohio) Public Schools, Library of Congress
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From the Ancient Egyptian game of Senet to the digital games of today, children have reveled in the strategies, stories, and intrigue that challenge the mind. Teaching history, math, science, reading/languages arts, and the unified arts through games or game construction can reinforce skill, concept, and application level knowledge.

HISTORY OF BOARD GAMES

Game Cabinet
At the Game Cabinet, Catherine Soubeyrand writes a fascinating history of ancient games commencing with Senet, an Egyptian game that may be the forerunner of backgammon. The discovery of tomb paintings and actual boards with pieces indicate it was a popular game of the time. However, the rules were not preserved and reconstructing them has led to several interpretations. She also covers Dogs and Jackals (Snakes and Ladders), and the Royal Game of Ur, a Babylonian game of fate and fortune. Each article has a list of resources.

Online Guide to Traditional Games
Did you know that Wei Qi (Go) is considered by many to be the world's greatest strategic skill game? What makes Shogi or Japanese Chess a more interesting contest? Why did the Shaturanga players dispense with the dice in early Hindu civilization? Find the answers to these questions along with detailed explanations and illustrations of games that were created prior to 1900.

WEB GAMES

Awale
Oware (pronounced oh-wah-ruh) is a game that has its origins in Ethiopia. There are a number of variations including Awale and Wari. The game is played with a hollow wood plank and some stones or seeds. Because it is a strategy game, you may want to tie it into problem-solving lessons. Awale, an elegant shareware program, is designed for both Macintosh and Windows. A trial copy can be downloaded for review. If you like the game, the cost is $10.

Factor Game
This investigation meets the NTCM standards and is based on the Factor Game from the "Prime Time" unit of the Connected Mathematics Project [http://www.math.msu.edu/cmp/index.html]. The purpose of the lesson is to assist students in recognizing prime and composite numbers by analyzing the strategies involved in the game. Several activities are presented in digital and paper format.

Mancala
Mancala is another ancient game similar to Oware that uses seeds or beads. The game is played counter-clockwise, with six playing pits and one scoring pit. You begin with three seeds in each pit. The object of the game is to place all of your seeds in the scoring pit and capture your opponent's seeds. You will be playing against the computer at this site, with all of the moves explained.

Owari Bead Game
Download this program written for the Palm. It includes English, French, German, and Japanese versions. For those browsing the page from their Palms, executable files are available. There are also rules for the game and a list of links to other related Web sites.

Play Chess
Can you beat the computer? Try your skills at this Web site, where you will also find the laws of chess and frequently asked questions.

Senet
In Senet, an Ancient Egyptian game, you throw sticks to see how many squares to move your piece forward. This virtual version demonstrates the rules and provides hints about which moves are okay. This is a great starting point when learning about civilization and social customs of the Ancient World.

Sieve of Eratosthenes
What a great way to learn about prime numbers. What student will ever forget the concept that Eratosthenes developed centuries ago? The Sieve of Eratosthenes drains out composite numbers and leaves prime numbers behind. On this page you learn about Eratosthenes and his step-by-step process. To further enhance your knowledge you can play with the sieve through an interactive Java applet.

LESSON PLANS

Make a Harry Potter Board Game
One of the most popular series of books these days is J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. In this lesson students will learn how to write inference and recall questions as they create a trivia game.

Snake and Sight Word Board Game
Practicing sight words is the objective in this game for grades pre-K-5. Print out the snake game board. Then, write words on squares of paper to place on the board face down. When students land on the squares, they read the word. If they are correct, they remain on the square. If not, they must go back.

Make Your Own Game Board
Before embarking on a lesson involving the creation of a game, it is important to provide students with a foundation of prior knowledge and experience in playing games. Study the history and evolution of games. Bring a variety of game boards for students to examine, emphasizing the design and rules that are necessary elements for a successful product. Play some of the board games online. Have students think about these questions:

1. What was the objective of the game?

2. What were the rules? Did you understand them?

3. How were the moves determined? Were dice, cards, a spinner, or something else used?

4. What pieces were used to move around the board?

5. Was the game similar to another game that you have played or read about?

6. How was the game designed? Was there one path or several paths? What obstacles caused you to lose a turn or go backward? What shortcuts allowed you to go forward?

7. What reward was at the end of the game?

When it is time to begin the creative process, students will be better prepared to generate a multitude of ideas and strategies for devising their own games. Be sure to visit the Board Game Design Project Web site.

Board Game Design Project
Bernie Dodge, professor of educational technology at San Diego State University and originator of the WebQuest, has created a course on exploratory learning through simulation and games. Within this course are excellent guides for game board design, a lesson template, an evaluation rubric, and examples of completed projects. The entire design process is examined thoroughly from content analysis to game structure. This is the definitive site to visit for an in-depth study of how to create games.

SCHOOLYARD GAMES

Children's Games from Around the World
Jump rope, hopscotch, and tag are games children play around the world. Chen Qiu Rong from China describes a form of jump rope where the rope is made of rubber bands. In Colombia, they call hopscotch Rayuela. Mazen Al Qurawi from Saudi Arabia tells about a form of tag where the hunter has to catch the entire group of other children. Read these stories and more about different versions of schoolyard games.

Children's Folk Games
For the international community, the I*EARN organization has created a Web site dedicated to the preservation of children's folk games. The games, rhymes, tongue twisters, and traditions are written in the native languages. This is a great site for ESL and foreign language teachers.

Games Kids Play
Remember playing marbles or red light green light? At this novel site there are over 250 games to look up. Each game lists the rules and directions for playing.

Game Connection
Try this idea with your students. Have students ask their parents to name three common games that they played when they were children. After gathering the names of the games, have students find information about them on the Web or in books to learn the rules and how to play them. Finally, have students teach the game to the class. Use the rubric below as a self-evaluation tool:

Be sure to visit the MultiMedia Schools home page [http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools] with active links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article. Then fly overto CyberBee [http://www.cyberbee.com] for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff.

Be sure to visit the MultiMedia Schools Home Page (http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools) with active links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article. Then fly over to CyberBee (http://www.cyberbee.com) for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff.

Lesson Plans

Make a Harry Potter Board Game
http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-2694.html

Snake and Sight Word Board Game
http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-5425.html

Make Your Own Game Board

Board Game Design Project
http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec670/BoardGameAssignment.html
 

Schoolyard Games

Children's Games from Around the World
http://www.rice.edu/projects/topics/edition11/games-section.htm

Children's Folk Games
http://est.estcomp.ro/~cfg/home.html

Games Kids Play
http://illuminations.nctm.org/imath/6-8/FactorGame/index.html
 

Did you know that Wei Qi (Go) is considered by many to be the world's greatest strategic skill game?

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland GAME

In this example, a sixth grade student created a game based on the book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The design of the game was patterned after the Uncle Wiggily game of the 1930s. The Uncle Wiggily stories by Howard Garris were about a rabbit and his friends. In the game, there are a series of cards with references to places and characters in the stories along with how many spaces to move.

Directions

Number of Players: 2-4

How to Play: Start at number one. Take a card from the multicolored stack and move that many numbers. If it says take an orange card, then take an orange card and follow its directions. Go to the specific place. If you reach a place such as the rabbit hole, Duchess' house, etc.,... then you must go forward or backward a few spaces or lose one or two turns. Whoever reaches Home Sweet Home first is the winner and made it through Wonderland.


Resources and Web Site addresses

History of Game Boards

Game Cabinet
http://www.gamecabinet.com/deeperDrawers/Traditional.html

Online Guide to Traditional Games
http://www.tradgames.org.uk/

Web Games

Awale
http://www.myriad-online.com/enindex.htm

Factor Game
http://illuminations.nctm.org/imath/6-8/FactorGame/index.html

Mancala
http://imagiware.com/mancala/

Owari Bead Game
http://www.wizzy.com/owari/

Play Chess
http://pine.cs.yale.edu:4201/cgi-bin/chessplayer

Senet
http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/life/activity/act_main.html

Sieve of Eratosthenes
http://ccins.camosun.bc.ca/~jbritton/jberatosthenes.htm

Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educator's Guide to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library of Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson Street, Columbus, OH 43211; phone 614/365-5277; e-mail: ljoseph@iwaynet.net.
 

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