175 – GameSchooling & Board Game Club with Chrissy – The Family Gamers Podcast
We’re done with all our PAX Unplugged interviews, so the bad jokes and weird facts are back in force! But let’s talk to our guest this week, Chrissy Wissler.
What We’ve Been Playing
Passtally – simple but very challenging route-laying game.
Wingspan – in the rare opportunity Chrissy gets to play with adults. We sidetrack to talk about Elizabeth Hargrave’s presentation about what appeals differently to women in games.
Welcome To (Your Perfect Home) – more interesting decisions to be made when you use the advanced goal cards.
Dungeon Academy – we talked about this last time, but it’s interesting to see how this worked with a wide age range. Works well with our family’s “agent of chaos”!
Pokemon TCG – when you can give your kid the opportunity to teach you how to play a game, you should take advantage of that! Our kids were “gifted” a large hand-me-down stash of Pokemon cards, and we’re not sure how we feel about that.
Fantasy Ranch (as recommended by Nick) – a big hit with Chrissy’s oldest!
Honga (also recommended by Nick) – a little overwhelming for a 7 year old, but the adults would happily play again! “As a teacher, I can see how this is one [to teach] fluid reasoning for kids”
Games with Chrissy’s grandma: IceCOOL, Dinosaur Tea Party (one of our most recommended games for inter-generational play)
New Years gaming for Andrew and Anitra and friends:
Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa
Stone Age (Anniversary edition) – our first time. A lot less complex than we thought.
Quirky Circuits – the game we really wanted Robot Turtles to be. More approachable (setup mostly done for you) and also more game-y. And it’s cooperative in a way that discourages quarterbacking. (Age range: 7+)
Unlock! Tombstone Express – some fun puzzles and a time-waster where you throw cardboard bullets at little standees.
Kintsugi – because Anitra has it with her at all times. “One of my top 3 Button Shy games.”
Oasis – area control with bidding. Choose from your neighbors’ offers to get tiles to lay on the board, camels, or multipliers. You need to be flexible with your strategy (and also be ok with hate-drafting).
Anitra learned Chickapig from a 6-year-old.
Both moms and a few kids played The Scrambled States of America – it’s nice to have a “slapping” game where you don’t touch each other, and it’s educational!
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More About Chrissy
What inspired you to start a club?
“I wanted a community of kids to play games together… It’s amazing when they get together, and they teach each other, and they learn.”
Most people don’t know what modern board games are, and Chrissy found herself in a role where she could spread the boardgame love!
What does the boardgame club look like typically?
There are lots of options for homeschoolers in California. Chrissy teaches multiple classes every week.
Regular board game class – bring games, teach kids and play for about an hour.
Adventures in Middle-Earth class – based on D&D, 2 hours.
Intro to Roleplaying – for younger kids that aren’t ready for the more focused D&D experience.
Another class is just playing through Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. Perfect for older kids!
What are parents’ attitudes?
We know about modern board games, but most of these parents don’t. They don’t realize the learning opportunities available through board games.
“Part of my job is to re-educate parents on what board games are.”
Kids get it immediately – board games are fun! They don’t care if they’re learning while they’re playing.
Board games remind us that we don’t need to just focus on obvious “academic” parts of learning. It’s also about softer skills, like negotiating, handling relationships, handling your anger when frustrated. This is why Chrissy wrote about practicing and learning emotional intelligence.
Let’s not forget to let our kids practice these skills! It’s hard, but we need to step back (after we’ve given them the tools), let them feel their own feelings and not try to “fix” everything for them.
Upcoming series with HABA
A lot of HABA’s games for young kids are specifically designed to teach strategic skills.
We’ll be examining how Brandon the Brave, Monza, Tiny Parks, and Animal upon Animal: Crest Climbers have specific skillsets that they target.
Chrissy has witnessed with her own kids that success comes in tiny steps. “It’s not just about counting spaces” – it’s about the fine details of what kids are learning. Even rolling the dice in Monza becomes about awareness of choices (which color do I use?) as well as color matching.
HABA has already done the work – they are using the science of how children learn!
One last story…
About getting information out to other people about how great board games are! Chrissy’s kids get visits from a speech/language pathologist. Chrissy calls her style of homeschooling “gameschooling” – but what’s that?
We learn that “fluid reasoning” is the fancy term for the skills you need to figure out a puzzle.
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