Saturday, October 07, 2006

Games for after school programs

This is something I'm putting together for the Out of School Hours Care program at Biggie's school ...

Games for Out of School Hours Care programs are typically played often and are taught child-to-child, rather than adult-to-child. They should ideally be able to be played by a relatively large group (there is less need for two player games when there are plenty of willing opponents) and by children of varying ages, and must be able to cope with the loss of a player, for example when a child is collected from OSHC.

As these games are typically played at the end of the day, when children are tired, it is important that they be fun, not too complicated and as far as possible not involve direct conflict between players. Pragmatic considerations suggest that they should not be broken by the loss of one or several game pieces.

Some games that would make a great start to your OSHC game cupboard:
  • Apples to Apples Junior

  • Blink

  • Blokus

  • Carcassonne

  • Catch the Match

  • Dancing Eggs

  • Diamant (Incan Gold)

  • Halli Galli

  • Make ‘n’ Break

  • Scattergories

  • Sherlock

  • TransAmerica

As children become used to playing with and looking after games, you can add more – and possibly games that need a little more care. Through the Desert, Dawn Under and – for older children – Shadows over Camelot or Cleopatra and the Society of Architects would make excellent choices as your game library matures, as well as any number of card games (look for titles like King’s Breakfast and Mamma Mia).

The most important thing that you can do to keep your games intact is to teach children to "count them out and count them in". This can be an issue when parents are collecting them, especially if they have appointments to keep or other children to collect, so any complex games should be started early and finished early, or kept for game club or a family game night.


Gerald McD said...

Very nice. You folks are doing such great things with and for your children, as well as for the community.

I might also recommend Zirkus Flohcati, Frank's Zoo, and Pick Picknic -- easy rules, fast play, lots of players, and it's okay if someone has to drop out before the game is finished. I would guess that even if a piece of "feed" was lost from Pick Picknic, it would not be a major problem (just use what's available), since it is not for really serious gaming.

A note about Frank's Zoo -- we never play with the rules listed beyond the basics. We ignore the partnerships, card exchanges, and special scoring for lions. It is certainly not a complicated game when played this way.

Melissa said...

They're great ideas, Gerald - thanks. I will add them to the list.

The after care co-ordinator has added one more concern - the games should not have super-nice "bits" as they tend to go missing. :(

Anonymous said...

Excellent comments Melissa, that's also a good list of games. I wonder whether Carc the Discovery would be better than vanilla Carc though?? - just a thought.

I feel a certain pain in my chest when you wrote '...they tend to go missing' - this is my greatest nightmare from running a game club at a school!

I think the biggest issue sometimes though is the 'skilling up' of the adults. Often (in my experience) teachers and after school people are fine with having the games played - but they have this attitude like 'well it's all beyond me - but they look good'.

Skilling the adults is vital as it would hopefully inspire a certain zeal or passion for the games they wouldn't otherwise have, and it ensures the games can function properly without some kids 'taking over' the direction of the game. It also helps when it comes to packup time - cos they don't just look into a box and say 'well there's lots of coloured bits in there it must be all packed' (not that they'd do that anyway - but you never be toooooo sure)!

Of course it also means that the kids have someone who's name they can cal out loudly and abruptly when a rule needs to be clarified or an 'unfair' play is made ;) - "No, big meeples can't be used to kill littler meeples - they are not gangsta's. Not even if that's what happens in 50cents movie!"