One of the best approaches in any classroom of kindergarteners and first graders is to combine learning with fun and creative activities, as young children learn with games and through play.
As older students joined Linda Herbert’s kindergarten and first grade class, the room started to come alive with chatter and the clacking of dice on tabletops as the students played board games. Children were very focused and enthusiastic about the games.
These were not ordinary board games that can be purchased in a store. These were homemade, the result of a class project. Children had decorated them with stickers of cars, pets, and cartoon characters. The paths from start space to finish line were colorful and winding.
Despite first impressions, the project, a first for Herbert’s class, wasn’t all fun and games.
“Besides problem-solving, it’s math skills, art and language development,” Herbert said of the skills her students utilized by making their own games.
The children came up with a premise for their game, designed it and had to teach it to older schoolmates. Along the way, they had to adjust their designs to make room for more challenging elements, like snake pit spaces that would cause a player to lose a turn.
First-grader Dane Andreanson’s game was a racing board game. He said he enjoyed drawing whatever came to his mind and realized the economical benefit of making his own game.
“Making my own game is fun because you can keep it forever,” Andreanson said. “You don’t have to pay for anything; you can save your allowance for another game.”
Like many children, Andreanson’s preferred game of choice, Minecraft, is played on one of his parents’ smartphones.