Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Games for Reading, Writing, Maths...

In my last post I mentioned Peggy Kaye's Games For Reading and the dinosaur board game we made.
This game was so much fun to make, let alone play, that I thought it deserved a little more attention.

The concept in the book is very simple: draw a line of squares and colour them in with various colours.
Then write the names of those colours on some cards and shuffle them.
To play the game give each player a token, a coin, die or similar object, set these at one end of the line.
take it in turns to move along the line by drawing a card and moving to the next space of that colour.
The first person to reach the end of the line is the winner.
Obviously this game helps with reading skills, particularly instinctive reading of the trickier colour names, but with a little adjustment it can be a lot more.

This is the game we made.

At one side of the board is a compsognathus nest, at the other is a Tyrannosaurus nest.
Players take the part of hungry compsognathus scurrying round the board to collect eggs.
In its simplest form the game is just like the original version, except that the winner is the one to collect the most eggs* which makes this a slightly longer game.
 The first variant turns this into a slightly more strategic game: players must move round the board clockwise until they get to the tyrannosaurus nest, they can then choose which direction to take based on the cards that they draw.
In the second variant one player** becomes an angry tyrannosaurus intent on gobbling up the compsognathus that keeps stealing her eggs, this player also travels clockwise until they reach the compsognathus nest and can then travel in either direction, the winner is the player to collect the most eggs before the tyrannosaurus catches one of them.

The next variant involves the cards.
 Our cards have the colours of the rainbow and numbers from one to six in lower case and capital letters.
If you draw a number you move that many spaces, if you draw a colour you move to the next space of that colour.
This is lovely for basic reading practise but lovelier still is that you can update the cards as the players grow older.
Instead of a card reading "red" you can make one which says "move to the next red space" or "miss a turn", instead of "one" you can have "four minus three" or "3 + 4" or any other instructions.
You can even add forfeits or trivia questions: "Name three cities in Scotland to move to the next red space" or "Stand on one leg for one minute or miss a turn".
The possibilities are almost endless.
Best of all it's actually quite fun to play.

Since writing that last post I've also discovered Peggy Kaye's website, it's worth looking at if you're interested in this kind of thing and she even has a few of the games from her various books up there.
We tried her suggestion of writing a menu for a Monster Cafe but, of course, ours was a Dino Diner.
We wrote a menu****, we set up the restaurant, and we opened for business.

I don't think I'd want to eat there but Eleanor's dinosaurs certainly seem impressed.

*Or the first to two, three, or however many eggs you can stand to play for.
** If you're playing this with your kids you're probably best off being the tyrannosaur, if they're playing  alone and no-one wants to be it*** then they can draw cards for the tyrannosaurus separately and keep moving it clockwise until it catches them.
*** Or they all do.
****Making sure the herbivorous options were clearly labelled

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