Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inventing A Board Game

Last year, our Pre-K group spent some time exploring great paintings, one of which was work called Rhythm of Straight Lines by Mondrian. At the time we were looking for the stories told by the paintings, and while we didn't feel that this one made much of a story, it did remind us of roads and inspired us to try to imitate it.

In the course of our child-lead curriculum, we never got around to this project this year, but I did have a couple pre-made leftover Mondrian-style grids tucked away in the storage room, which I came across in my annual quest to use things up during the last few weeks of school. I put them on tables outdoors with crayons and a couple of the kids took the time to color them in. 

As they lay there on the table, awaiting their destiny as part of one of next year's classes, Elena began to pick at some of the tape I'd used to make the grid and discovered that there was a matching white grid underneath the black one. As she began to carefully pull it off so as to not tear the mat board, other kids joined in. Like last year's, class, they decided they were looking at either roads or a maze.

One of the unexpected cool things about my family's downscaling move to an apartment a couple years ago is that I now live in a building with a garbage room that is often a great place to exercise my inner middle class bag lady. Last week someone, perhaps in the wake of a failed "game night," had thrown out brand new editions of the board games Monopoly and Life. Treating them as cadavers, I harvested all the little plastic and metal pieces, figuring, if nothing else, they would make interesting collage material. As the kids drove their fingers around the roads they were unearthing, it occurred to me that the Monopoly houses and Life car-pawns were nicely scaled for this little world.

What I'd not anticipated, although I suppose I should have, was that some of the kids, at least, knew they were looking at the parts of board games. "I know this game!" As the kids figured out what they wanted to do with everything, I moved on to other things for awhile, returning to find Cooper and a couple of other kids busily engaged in spinning the spinner and taking turns moving their cars around the game board, having invented a game of their own.

The following day, in an attempt to find a way to both extend and broaden the invented board game play, I experimented by putting all the parts on an indoor table. On an adjacent table was an actual "proper" board game, Monopoly Junior, where I stationed a parent-teacher to help manage it. I guess you could say it was a kind of experiment. 

I don't know if I learned anything from the experiment, although it did seem that the kids who have tended to choose "good guy" roles in our dramatic play were more likely, at least on this day, to choose Monopoly Junior, while the ones who favored "bad guy" roles had more fun with the more rule-flexible invented game. It's probably nothing, but now I have a hypothesis to test, but it will, sadly, have to wait until next year.

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1 comment:

Brenna said...

I love the creativity of these pre-k students. The colorful painting early in this post almost looks Frank Lloyd Wright-ish with the colorful squares and rectangles.
Nice ideas.

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