Back to School: After the Bell
Inspiring Teamwork, Creativity, and Physical Activity in Students
Back to School is a three-week series here on Asmodee, exploring some great games that will get you, your kids, or your students ready and excited for the coming school year. In our first article, we broke the ice with a collection of games that are perfect for introducing students to one another in their new classrooms, after-school programs, or residence halls. Then, last week, we dug into some educational titles covering a whole range of subject matter, adding some spice to your class projects. In today’s article, we will recommend some engaging, cooperative games for the moments between homework, after-school activities, family time, and all the other things that keep both students and educators so busy throughout the school year!
You're On The Team!
If you’re a regular here on Asmodee, you’re probably already familiar with Captain Sonar, a game that has generated all kinds of buzz throughout the board game industry. If you’ve never played the game, let me tell you a bit about it! Captain Sonar is an innovative team-driven game, in which two submarine crews go head-to-head in an attempt to destroy the others’ ship in real time. What makes the game so extraordinary is how it blends competition and cooperation. While the primary objective for each team is to eliminate the other, the game’s true spirit is in the communication and teamwork each crew must foster in order to do so. The players take on one of four roles—Captain, First Mate, Radio Operator, and Engineer—each playing a vital part in the epic and hectic battles ahead.
For a group of classmates, floor mates, or participants in an extracurricular activity, Captain Sonar is both an incredible ice-breaker and a lasting tool to encourage effective communication and problem-solving. The game is much less about who wins and who loses, and more about the challenges each player faces throughout the game. After each play, both teams often end up sharing the events and trials they encountered, and coming up with different ways to approach them in the future. The desire to overcome those issues will motivate players to try over and over again, switching roles and sharing what they learned in their own experience with each new challenge.
Another way to keep minds sharp when school isn’t in session is to review the subjects learned in class. Concept as it is traditionally played is already a great game for broadening understanding and developing critical thinking skills. In each round, one player is tasked with trying to communicate one of the words or ideas on their card with everyone else. To do so, players silently place colored pawns and cubes on a variety of icons across the game board. Each icon represents different ideas, such as forms of media, locations, types of people or characters, shapes, numbers, weather, and much more. As the active player wordlessly communicates any number of these concepts that relate to their card, the other players attempt to guess what the word, phrase, or title is. Both the concept-giver and the correct guesser receive points for each success.
Many of the existing cards contain unique and complex intellectual ideas and figures. To tailor the game to your particular student or class, however, you can create your own cards on slips of paper with fitting topics and vocabulary. Through both trying to get others to guess and guessing these topics themselves, players can become increasingly familiar with details of the subject in question. They may wish to indicate the year of a particular event, the age of an important historical figure at a certain point in their life, or the general theme of the answer, such as the course to which it relates.
Get Up and Move
Much of the day in a classroom is spent stationary, sitting in a desk learning or reading. When class gets out, students may want to get up and move. Not only that, but studies have shown a positive correlation between physical activity and elements of learning, such as cognitive skills, a positive attitude, and improved focus. Going outside is an exceptional way to exercise the body, and thus, the mind, but we know that sometimes isn’t an option. Whatever the reason—physical limitation, inclement weather, neighborhood construction—there are plenty of ways to bring the fun indoors while keeping energy high.
Doctor Panic is another game that puts an emphasis on teamwork, with all players racing against not each other, but the clock. Using an audio track, the game puts players through a number of tests and trials requiring a steady hand, great communication, and other valuable skills. The many simultaneous activities can get a bit frenzied and you may find yourself running from task to task as emergency phone calls come in. Panic is just one part of being a great doctor, and doing it together on a rainy day may be just what you need to jump-start your body and mind for whatever’s next up on the calendar.
The Value of Education
We hope you have enjoyed this series of educational articles. We’ve loved seeing the incredible response on social media, and we want to hear more! Tell us what ways you have incorporated games into the classroom. Have you used them to introduce students perhaps, or engage them in subject matter? You may have used a game to get their creative juices flowing or keep minds sharp during downtime. Share your educational success stories with us on Twitter or Facebook so we can help others bring more to the tabletop than just homework when it comes to learning and teaching. We can’t wait to see what ideas you have!