CONNECTING THROUGH BOARD GAMES
By Roxie Zeller
Over the course of the pandemic, I have rediscovered a love of board games. They have been a great way to escape the reality of the world around us and lose myself in the world of the game. With the use of today’s technology, I can play board games in person with my husband and others in my COVID bubble, as well as play online with loved ones outside my bubble, even those who live far away.
Games offer an intrigue that draws people in. Many games focus on adventure or fantasy. Others are all about the art of the game. In my personal collection, I love games where players take the role of an adventurer, such as in Lost Cities, where you set off on quests to find lost cities and score points. I also love Carcassonne, a game in which you compete to build cities and fields with tiles that show images of southern France, and Sagrada, a beautiful game in which you build stained glass windows with colorful transparent dice.
But what makes board games really special is the people who play with you. It’s the other players who push you to plan ahead, pay attention to what everyone else is doing, and improve your strategies. That friendly interaction is engaging; you can immerse yourself in it.
Board games have a similar appeal to children. They provide children with opportunities to learn while having fun with friends. I have brought my love for board games into the classroom and have really enjoyed playing with the preschoolers. So far, we have played Old Maid, Go Fish, Bingo, Memory Match, Max, and Hi Ho Cherry-O. Of these games, Memory Match and Hi Ho Cherry-O have become our favorites. Memory Match and Bingo draw in a large group of children, some of whom are willing to remain attentive for the whole duration, while others flow in and out of the game. Hi Ho Cherry-O tends to pull in three or four preschoolers who, for the most part, stay engaged through the whole game. The wonderful thing about playing with preschoolers is that everyone has a great attitude: we laugh and joke about bad luck in Hi Ho Cherry-O; they help each other out in Memory Match. The children don’t seem to place a huge emphasis on winning but rather enjoying the twists and turns of the game.
What the preschoolers don’t know is these board games are a great way to help them practice counting, fine motor skills, turn-taking, following rules and instructions, communication and teamwork. There are countless research articles about the benefits of board games for children of all ages.
My hope is that by playing games in the classroom with my preschoolers, I not only help them develop important skills, but also instill a love for games in them. Many children and adults today connect with their peers through video games, movies, and TV shows. Playing physical board games with friends is another great way to connect. In a world of screens, it is refreshing to unplug and lose myself in the world of a game.