If you do a search, you’ll find a lot of articles and blogs and research on the internet suggesting that board games could and should be used in the classroom for educational purposes. Many of them are written about younger students, under grade 7, and some sadly still reference Monopoly, Sorry, Boggle and Uno as the games to look out for. These are good games (except for Monopoly), and definitely help teach cooperation, patience and other social skills, but there are so many more that can be tied into curriculum and learning goals (some of the links above do concern themselves with newer games).
I have found a website in which a teacher has written lesson plans for specific classes using games such as Pandemic, and I though I’d share some of my ideas.
I will be able to do this better this year than last because I have longer periods with my students. Last year, even though I taught math, I showed students who were interested how to play Invasion of Canada and they would come in at lunch time, set up, play and put the game away all within a 40 minute period. Students who happened to be in my room, or wandered by and wanted to see what was going on would see the board and say “Is this Risk?” Honestly, I heard that at least three times. To me, this shows how little exposure children are getting to board games, as for many of them, their inventory consists of Risk, Monopoly, Sorry and Scrabble.
Anyway, my plan is this: as part of the gameplay in Invasion of Canada, players use cards to move their armies, but also have event cards that can give them bonus effects. For example he Native forces can use the Tecumseh card, which causes American forces to make a roll to see if they flee before a battle starts. This represent how fearful the Americans were of Tecumseh and his Native warriors. Other cards for the different factions include Laura Secord and Billy Green for the British, and the Kentucky Rifles for the Americans. Playing this game after teaching about most of the war, students should recognize some of these people.
The first bit of writing the students would do after the game is to write a quick summary of what happened during their game. After that, they’ll choose one event card that they played, state which card it was and explain the connection between the historical event or person card and the card’s effect. And finally, I’ll have them make their own event card, depicting a person or event, and have then explain how its effect in the game is representative of the person or event they chose.
If anyone has any other ideas about ways to use these games, or any other relevant games, share them in the comments!
Credit for the Invasion of Canada pictures goes to the Academy Games website, and the A Few Acres of Snow picture is from Treefroggames.com