Games for Critical Thinking - Homeschool Co-op, Fall 2013
Our Lady of Perpetual Yelling
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I'm teaching a class in my local homeschool co-op called "Games for Critical Thinking." It's really an excuse to play games and introduce the kids to games beyond Monopoly and Uno. laugh

I have 13 students that range from 4th - 12th grade, or 8yrs to 18yrs approx. I have two adult assistants and my 9yo son, who helps the assistant with his group since he knows how to play many of the games. Heh... I have divided the class into three groups based on age, Team Alpha, Beta and Delta.

This Geeklist is to help me keep track of what games worked and which flopped, and why. Sometimes it depends on the class time (45 mins), sometimes it depends on personality, and sometimes it depends on the game. I am using my personal games, and worry a bit about them getting damaged. I have a feeling I'll soon be exploring the world of card sleeves.

We have a fairly small room, with three tables. It's a bit crowded and gets warm with 16 ppl packed into it, and I worry if we'll be so noisy that we'll disturb the other classes around us. Not much I can do about it though.

I have set up a website, with a page for each week and upload youtube videos for each game/team. Some games don't have any videos so I've had to make them myself. Ugh! I generally use Dice Tower videos, but have also used Startlit Citadel, and some other random vids. I wish I could use TableTop, but the language (ouch!) makes them totally inappropriate.

Team Alpha: 5 students - 3 boys, 2 girls
Team Beta: 4 students - 2 boys, 2 girls
Team Delta: 4 students - all boys
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1. Board Game: UNO Flash [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:9354]
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Week One:

I decide to use Uno games for the first class of the semester. Most kids are familiar with Uno, and it allows me time to figure out how the class will flow, how quickly they pick up on the rules, and the personality dynamics.

Team Alpha: Uno Flash
Went over well. The boys loved the randomness, but the girls seemed neutral. Perhaps they aren't very demonstrative?

Team Beta: Uno Attack
This table seems very quiet and reserved. They are having fun, but tend to smile and chuckle rather than laughing out loud or being boisterous.

Team Delta: Uno Spin
All of them are very loud and seem to bond instantly. They really enjoy the game.
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2. Board Game: DICEcapades [Average Rating:5.03 Overall Rank:15221]
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Week Two:

Team Alpha: Dicecapades
I picked this up and played it once at home. It didn't go over well with the younger players (9yrs), but I thought that maybe it might work with the older students in class. It was only okay. Since it's a typical roll and move game, it's easy to learn. But the actual game is "meh." I think I've just started a dice collection! *lol*

Team Beta: Kerfuffle
A lot more fun than Dicecapades, although this group still seems pretty hesitant about being "silly." This group also seems a little slower at picking up the rules, and don't seem to understand the game(s) until class is half over. I'll have to think carefully about what games I assign to them.

Team Delta: Cogno
A thrifted game that is also roll and move. It's an okay game, but the science questions are interesting to kids and it has some interesting game features, like getting sucked into a black hole and having to play on a second, smaller board until breaking free. This group seems to catch on to games quickly and enjoy each others company.
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3. Board Game: Spy Alley [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:6941]
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Week Three:

Team Alpha: Spy Alley
The older kids seem to enjoy the game, but not love it. However, the girls still don't seem very enthusiastic. I'm still trying to figure out if it's just their personality, or if they don't like the games. Their answer every week is "it's okay."

Team Beta: Cogno
Since this group seems slower to pick up on the gameplay, I've given them Cogno to play this week. (Delta had it last week.) They seem to enjoy it, and smile a lot. Still not a boisterous group.

Team Delta: Kerfuffle
The kids at this table are LOUD. They love the games, don't mind being silly, and generally have a good time.

I have noticed, however, that one assistant is great at picking up the games quickly, and the other is not. If it's not a roll-and-move, she seems lost. This makes class a bit challenging for me, as that means I need to teach two different tables two different games at the same time. And with only 45 minutes to play, it's a tight squeeze.
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4. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:263]
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Week Four:

Team Alpha: Forbidden Desert
I teach the older kids how to play Forbidden Desert. They pick up the the game mechanics fairly quickly, although they tend to move around the board in a pack, rather that spreading out. Again, the girls seem neutral. *sigh*

Team Beta: Spy Alley
Still sticking with roll-and-move games with this group. They seem to enjoy the games and partnering with each other, they're just all on the quiet side I guess.

Team Delta: Forbidden Island
I put Assistant B at this table, because my 9yo is in this group and already knows how to play. I'm hoping that having him there will help B learn the game and help the kids. It didn't work, as she was confused and called it a "fantasy" game. They beat the game in 20 minutes, so I'm pretty sure they did something wrong. *lol* Thankfully, I carry some filler games with me and teach them how to play No Thanks! They learn it quickly, including B, and enjoy the game.
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5. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:227]
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Week Five:

Team Alpha: King of Tokyo
I'm hoping the kids in this group will love the theme. The boys really liked the fun characters, and hopping in and out of Tokyo. The girls are quiet AGAIN. Later they tell me it was "too violent" and "a boy's game." I'm a bit surprised since my 23yo DD **loves** KoT.

Team Beta: Forbidden Island
I stick Assistant B with this group since she played Forbidden Island last week with Delta, hoping she'd do better this week. I still need to help her quite a bit.

Team Delta: Forbidden Desert
This table is excited about playing this since they played FI last week. Assistant A is helping this table, and they do pretty well...although they still beat the game a little too quickly IMO.
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6. Board Game: Telestrations [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:224]
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Week Six:

I mix things up a little bit this week. I split the class into two groups instead of three, and play Telestrations and The Resistance.

Team Alpha: Telestrations
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that maybe, just MAYBE, the older girls will finally like a game. Telestrations isn't violent, and can't be classified as either a "boy's" or "girl's" game. I have Assistant B play with this group since it's relatively simple compared to The Resistance. She still has a lot of questions about when to write and when to draw, but the kids seem to have figured it out pretty quickly and help her. I hear a lot of laughing coming from the group during class, so I assume they're having fun. I think I even saw the girls smile once or twice.

Team Delta: The Resistance
I'm a little concerned if the kids will be able to get into the spirit of the game, accusing each other but not getting upset. The first game was a little slow, and they tripped over the succeed/fail mechanic at first, but soon figure it out. The second game, they are TOTALLY sold. LOL! They are yelling, pointing fingers, and having a blast! I discover that most of the kids are excellent bluffers, much to my chagrin. The Spies win the first two games.

By the third game, the blue team is determined to beat the spies! The spies have a bad habit of throwing fail cards even when they are all on the same team, so when three fail cards out of four show up on one mission, the loyal resistance members start to figure out who they can trust. At the last second, when the class bell rings, the blue team manages to pull out a win. Yay!
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7. Board Game: The Resistance [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:174]
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Week Seven:

Just like last week, I split the class into two groups instead of three, and play Telestrations and The Resistance.

Team Alpha (the older kids): The Resistance
The older kids seemed to really enjoy The Resistance. Like the younger students, it took them about 1/2 a game to grasp the mechanics, but after that they really got into it. Even the older girls who never seem to like anything said they liked it.

Team Delta: Telestrations
Telestrations didn't go over as well with the younger set. Spelling is a bit harder for this age group, and they tried hard to get the word RIGHT, vs having fun seeing what the word/pictures turned into. They enjoyed themselves, but it wasn't as fun or funny as it could have been with either an older group, or perhaps a mixed age group.
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8. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:613]
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Week Eight:

I had several students absent, plus my two adult helpers. Fortunately one of other moms was free to assist. (Normally all the adults are either teaching, co-teaching or assisting.) Since the class was smaller I broke them into two groups instead of three.

Team Alpha (the older kids): Incan Gold
I have been sleeving the cards in games where the cards see a lot of action. With 13 or so students manhandling my games each week, I'm hoping it will help mitigate wear and tear on them. *fingers crossed* Since it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between the vote cards (stay/go) I used my label maker and stuck them on the sleeves. It seemed to help.

It took the kids about three rounds to really learn the mechanics of the game and they really seemed to enjoy it, although some more than others. I think the two older girls, who haven't seemed to love any of the games, may like abstracts better. I'll see what I can dig up for next week.

Team Delta: aMAZEing Labrynth
I'm so happy that the rules for this game are easy to pick up on the fly, as this was the game my last minute assistant facilitated for me. But even though the rules are easy, the game is quite challenging! The kids at this table really seemed to like it, and the adult assistant said it's going on her Xmas list for her family.
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9. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:661]
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Week Nine:

Totally shaking things up this week. Instead of assigning games to each group of kids, I'm bringing three different games and they get to choose which they want to play. I uploaded videos for each game to the class website so they can get an idea of how the games play before class. We'll have to see how it goes. I picked mostly abstracts this time.

Game One: Qwirkle
TBd

Game Two: Blokus
TBD

Game Three: Botswana
TBD
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