Teaching Out Loud

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TID – Day 18 – This Game is Bananas!


Image courtesy of Bananagrams

Name Bananagrams
Players 1 – Many
Play Time 10 minutes
Game Style Making Words

This seems like a theme to end the week. Like these last two posts, this one is all about the words. Like a free form scrabble, Bananagrams has you scrambling for words, and adding letters all the time. The game finishes when someone has a completed board, and there are less tiles than players in the centre. It is fun, fast paced, and great for all ages.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Strong
- We LOVE words!
Time to Play Quick
Setup is pretty easy, and play time goes quickly as words are made.
Tangential Learning: Low
Who wants to learn about Bananas?
Gameplay Complexity Low
If you can spell, you can play.
OVERALL: I love the physicality of this game, and the students really get into feeling successful making words!

TID – Day 17 – It’s Like Rummy, with Words


Image courtesy of How Stuff Works

Name Quiddler
Players 1 – 8
Play Time 30 minutes
Game Style Making Words

Quiddler, like Scrabble Flash, is a wonderful word game. You start with 3 cards, and, by drawing and discarding, attempt to get ‘out’ by spelling a word. The value of cards played becomes your score for that round. Each round, you increase the number of cards in your hand, all the way to 11. Most points at the end wins!

Direct Curricular Applicability: Strong
- Number Sense (scoring)
– We LOVE words!
Time to Play Medium
The speed of each round makes it easy to stop after only a few, but a full game wouldn’t be playable at nutrition break.
Tangential Learning: Low
You might have fun making some new card art.
Gameplay Complexity Low
If you can spell, you can play.
OVERALL: This is another game that ends up getting played as an interlude on long gaming days, or at Sunday dinners as an alternative to others. It is relatively easy to play, but you can really get into making fun words.

TID – Day 16 – More Jetsons than Flintstones


Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Name Stone Age
Players 2 – 4
Play Time 90 minutes
Game Style Resource Management

This is my wife, Jennifer’s, favourite game, by a wide margin. You control a tribe of people that are competing for resources with up to 3 other tribes. Each round you place your meeples in an attempt to gain rapidly dwindling resources. You are trying not only to gain the upper hand, but to make sure you can feed your growing tribe. The game mechanics allow for a number of competing strategies to be played at the same time, meaning that it caters to different playing styles.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Medium
- Number Sense (scoring)
– Ancient Civilizations (good provocation for the establishment of colonies)
Time to Play Long
The rounds are the same, so setting up and taking down isn’t hard, but you would find it hard to finish a complete game in one sitting at school.
Tangential Learning: High
Lots of resources mean lots of different learning that can be attained. How did that early settlers use agriculture? What were ancient tools like? How much wheat do you need to feed one person?
Gameplay Complexity Medium
Once the pattern is established, each round plays the same.
OVERALL: This is another game that has simple mechanics, but a wide variation of acceptable strategies and gameplay. There are bonuses for each strategy and careful planning can see each through to victory. There is good reason that it is Jen’s favourite, and it is currently 47th on BGG’s big list.

TID – Day 15 – Which Way Are You Going?


Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Name LCR
Players 2 – Lots
Play Time 5 minutes
Game Style Dice Rolling

LCR, which stands for Left, Centre, Right, is a quick and easy game. Each player gets three chips to start, and each rolls one dice for each chip they have (up to three). This makes more sense later as you gain or lose chips. The die are marked “L”, which means you pass one chip to the left, “R”, in which you pass one to the right, “C” which means you put one in the pot in the center, or a Dot, which means you can keep your chip. Once you have followed the directions of the dice, you pass them to the next player. The game is over when one player has all the remaining chips. Because of the constant passing, no one is ever out until that end game is achieved.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Medium
- Probability and Predictions
Time to Play Quick
Take three chips and start rolling.
Tangential Learning: Low
I really can’t see much out of this one.
Gameplay Complexity Low
Grab and go for this one.
OVERALL: I find that this one is an easy game to pack and take on the road. If you have distances to travel, or are somewhere where you need a distraction, this one takes up very little space in a travel bag.

TID – Day 14 – Solo Effort

Scrabble Flash

Name Scrabble Flash
Players 1 – 3 (although teams can play)
Play Time 30 seconds – Lots
Game Style Making Words

Sometimes you just don’t want to play with others. While collaboration is a key ingredient in my classroom, I know there are times that this isn’t necessary. I find it hard to find good solo games, and Scrabble Flash is one of the winners that I have come across. In the box you get 5 tiles. When playing the basic game, it will show you 5 letters, and you have to form as many different 3, 4 or 5 letter words as possible within the time frame. Students have a great time racing against the clock. You can also modify it by only using 4 tiles to reduce the complexity.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Strong
- You are making words!
Time to Play Quick
Turn on the tiles, and go
Tangential Learning: Low
Not much outside of word play, although I could see some kids getting intrigued by the learning.
Gameplay Complexity Low
Grab and go for this one.
OVERALL: I really like this one for putting a bit of game behind the creation of words. Students are always amazed at the different combinations. I do find that students don’t always use the best strategies (like just putting random blocks together and hoping), but I find that the good strategies far outweigh the bad..

TID – Day 13 – My Favourite Kind of Capacitor

Name Fluxx and its many variations
Players 2 – Many
Play Time 5 – 10 minutes
Game Style Pick a card, play a card

The simplicity of this game is deceptive. The basic rules start with “Draw a Card, Play a Card”, yhen all heck breaks loose. Cards played will change rules, destroy plans, and leave you angry and vengeful. The game can be over in two turns, or thirty turns. The play is quick and gets everyone at the table engaged in the game. The game often finishes more based on luck than strategy, but sometimes the journey is more important.

Check out gameplay here: (Star Fluxx shown)

Direct Curricular Applicability: Minimal
- Reading (a lot)
– Number Sense (complexity as rules change)
Time to Play Quick
Very quick to play and set up.
Tangential Learning: Low – High
Really depends on the deck you use. I would say that Eco Fluxx would be the one best used as a provocation.
Gameplay Complexity Low
The rules change, but basics don’t. Students will pick this one up quickly.
OVERALL: This is another great indoor nutrition break (recess) game. It is quick to pick up and put away, and the students love the variety inherent in the game.

TID – Day 12 – Do They Travel Planetary Intergalactic?


Name Galaxy Trucker
Players 2 – 4
Play Time At least 90 minutes
Game Style Build and Race

Galaxy Trucker is one of my favourite games! I won’t even try to get into the intricacies of the game, but the basics are as such: There are two main phases. In phase one, you build your spaceship with enough crew, defenses, engines and storage to make it from point A to point B. This section is a chaotic simultaneous flip and grab for the parts you need. The second phase has you flying through space and encountering different cargo and obstacles which can damage or wreck your ship. It is random, irreverent and fun! Then you lather, rinse and repeat two more times with even more complex ship designs.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Minimal
- Science (creating a machine)
– Number Sense (scoring)
– Probability (damage)
Time to Play Long
There is a lot of setup, plus a building phase that is confusing for the first few times.
Tangential Learning: High
You can spin this off into strategy writing, a space exploration unit, or feasibility of the physics.
Gameplay Complexity High
This one is better with an experienced player taking the rest through slowly the first time. Both phases are extremely fun, but requires good rule interpretations.
OVERALL: Let me be clear. I LOVE THIS GAME. The concept of building my own spacecraft, and then testing it worthiness in the randomness of the long haul through the empty void really speaks to me. I’m not sure whether it’s because I picture myself as Han Solo (the original Galaxy Trucker) or just my fascination with the stars/science fiction. I find that this game gives you the ability to be creative where many would have limits to make it easier. It is currently Ranked #76 on BGG’s big list.

TID – Day 11 – Shaun of the Die


Name Zombie Dice
Players 2 – Many
Play Time 5 – 10 minutes
Game Style Play and Pass, Push your luck

*CONTENT ADVISORY* – This one includes necessary Zombie defences, which includes shotgun blasts. The situation is fantasy, so I would consider this game safe for Grade 7-8 and higher.

For a good party game, I like a nice pass, play and chat game. Zombie Dice fits that bill nicely. Each turn, you fill the cup with dice, and randomly select three to roll. Each dice has sides with Brains (good and tasty), Feet (your prey has run away, roll this dice again), and an explosion (shotgun blast, three and your turn is done). You continue rolling until either you receive three shotgun blasts (and lose the brains you have gained) or choose to stop rolling (and keep the brains you have gained). The first to 13 brains wins!

Check out gameplay here:

Direct Curricular Applicability: Minimal
- Number sense (I guess)
– Probability (really, your strongest case)
Time to Play Quick
Roll dice, and go!
Tangential Learning: Low
You could do some personal writing on surviving the Zombie apocalypse.
Gameplay Complexity Low
Grab and go for this one.
OVERALL: Students love the concept and the content, and is a really good relaxing game to play with a large group.

TID – Day 10 – Get Ready for the Blitz


Name Dutch Blitz
Players 2 – 4
Play Time Quick and Lively
Game Style Card Laying, Simultaneous Play

Nothing says fast paced like Dutch Blitz. A game of stacking and claiming piles, each round is a ridiculous clash which reqrds the ones with fast hand eye-coordination. All that is necessary is the ability to count to ten, know your colours and a will to win! Replay value on the Blitz is very high.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Medium
- Number sense
– Patterning
Time to Play Quick
Set up is simple, and game play is very quick.
Tangential Learning: Low
Not much beyond exploring the Mennonite community.
Gameplay Complexity Low
All you have to do is stack cards up to 10.
OVERALL: Another good game for getting kids up and active while playing. I always preferred playing this one standing up. Timid players will probably shy away from this one, but for most, it is engaging fun.

TID – Day 9 – Arrgh-itecture


Name Ugg-Tect
Players Some – Lots
Play Time Quite Variable
Game Style Creating Structures, Communication

I find that students gravitate towards the more active games, like Jungle Speed. The physicality speaks to them at a instinctive level, and they find it much more intuitive than a lot of the card-laying turn-based games. Ugg-tect gets them up and moving and being silly. You are a caveman architect, and you are trying to convey your idea to your cavemen contractors. On each card you pull is a design, and you, without showing the card, have to tell the other players on your team how to place each object. However, your caveman language consists of only very basic commands, and you must use only those to communicate:

The game is equal parts frustrating and invigorating. CLASSROOM NOTE: Playing with the inflatable clubs can be hazardous to classroom management. I suggest changing that command to something that involves less hitting.

Direct Curricular Applicability: Strong
- 3D Shapes
– Speaking with purpose
– Structures
Time to Play Medium
Set up is rather quick, and the game can increase to fill up time available. Easily playable during a nutrition break.
Tangential Learning: Low
It might be good for some history, or a provocation for building structures.
Gameplay Complexity Low
Build structures, don’t say english words. Pretty simple.
OVERALL: I like this one for getting students up and moving, and for having them think about their word choice. It is a really fun way to limit their vocabulary. You could even get into a conversation about how many words they know, and then use the image linked below to explore what how someone who knows 1000 words would talk.