|The meeting room turned into a|
Chutes & Ladders game board
Room setup - With help from a page, I moved the tables to the back of our meeting room. With chairs along the walls for spectating caregivers, the bulk of the floorspace was wide open. I grabbed stacks of construction paper in red, yellow, green, and blue, as well as a roll of book tape, some yarn, and a roll of electrical tape. I used book tape on the back of construction paper to make the game board path. Chutes were made of yarn and connected two colored spaces on the board. Ladders were made out of electrical tape, and they also connected two colored spaces on the board. I set up the game board with 50 colored spaces, 4 chutes, and 4 ladders to start. (If you anticipate a bunch of kids or want shorter gameplay, decrease the number of spaces on the board.) I also set out a table with some of our books with kids' games.
Keeping the game going - With a dozen kids all starting from the same space, the game was a big congested at first. After about three rounds of turns, though, the human game pieces were really starting to spread out. Everyone was a good sport about chutes (even the boy who repeatedly said, and I quote: "This is the worst day ever!"*), and ladders were very exciting. That said, it took about 30 minutes of gameplay before the first child finished the course. That child got to choose a book from a prize cart and then start back at the beginning. I also took this half-way point opportunity to do a few things: 1) tell the kids to stay on their squares, then give everyone a roll of Smarties for a Smarties break; 2) talk about how game designers test their games over and over again to make sure it's not too easy and not too hard; and 3) remove a chute and add a few ladders. We kept playing after the Smarties break, and as other children finished the course, I kept removing chutes and adding ladders. These modifications really excited the kids--where would there be a new ladder?!?--and also served to help move the game forward. By the time our hour for the program was up, every child had successfully finished the course and chosen a prize book to take home.
How it went - The Life-Size Chutes and Ladders game went really well. Kids stayed engaged throughout the process, and they didn't grumble about waiting their turns or sliding down a chute. They were all really excited to be able to make it to the end of the course, which kept them all motivated and engaged. Caregivers were into the whole experience, too, because the game was very low-key. There was no single winner, and thus no competition to sour attitudes or fighting to get loud. One caregiver even pointed out how the whole game was a sort of exercise in patience and delayed gratification, all wrapped up in a gameplay bow. Children were genuinely excited to see what their spins would dictate, and they relished choosing their books at the end.
|Never underestimate the appeal of books as prizes.|
*His mom told me he says that about at least three different things each day. When he finished Chutes & Ladders, he appropriately switched to saying it was the "best day ever!"