Just Let Me Play
Board games deserve a special place in our classrooms. I have always encouraged students to engage in board games because of the value and educational experiences they bring. With a strong emphasis put on developing the confidence of teachers- teaching math- and students confidently "doing" math. With in-school workshops and co-teaching opportunities from and with Heather Jelley (Early years YRDSB math consultant), our EL-K team learned how to better assess and purposefully plan to observe math in the FDK classroom.
In kindergarten, games are an essential part of play-based learning programs. During the last couple of months, students transformed a corner of our classroom into a board game space (near and dear to the classroom atelier). This board game space consisted of shared materials from our atelier (workshop) and a clear table for students to plan, create, draft, design, and play their own created board games. Boxes, large sheets of cardboard, loose parts, dice, dot plates, number cards became popular materials and were readily available for their use. With a math lens, this space was used for mini lessons- guided by the students themselves!
We started by collecting a list of ideas- we brainstormed which materials we needed to begin with and where our board game space should be. As a class, we reflected which games we would like to make and play - we referred back to some games we already play (Snakes and Ladders). As a whole group, we discussed which materials we required and how we would teach others to play our board games- this is where students decided to include play rules and instructions. When complete, students kept their games and materials in their designed box and placed them on our board game shelf - which they were free to play throughout the day. Students could decide to modify or add to their game and collaborate with others- what a wonderful experience to observe!
Before, during, and after planning and playing games, the EL-K team would assess the strands and components put into the game. Did they write numbers? Are there questions with purpose and action? Does it involve higher level thinking? Which forms of writing, numbers, oral language did they use? Did they include a name for the game? Do the instructions correspond to the game? Is the context connected to classroom or the child"s interests? How do they know they won? How does the game progress?
I am looking forward to expanding our board game space and collaborating with educators about the exciting opportunities to explore a Reggio inspired board game space in our FDK classrooms. Please be sure to leave your thoughts, opinions, and experiences below.