61 – The Family Gamers Podcast – After School Board Game Club with Liz
This time we have a special guest in the studio! Our friend Liz Kelley is a staff writer for The Family Gamers website, but she’s also a teacher. Since school starts this time of year, we wanted to talk to her about something special: she coaches the board game club at her school.
What Has Liz Been Playing?
Liz learned to play Sushi Go Party! at the most recent Barnes & Noble game night.
Patchwork – we love it, although Bärenpark is quickly replacing Patchwork as a favorite. We all agree on our love for games by Uwe Rosenberg.
Board Games After School
Liz was involved with the review for Sushi Dice, and the kids who played it in her game club love it.
One surprising thing about the club is that the noise level of 24 kids playing tabletop games is high.
Liz remarks that many kids will form alliances, helping each other rather than simply being cut-throat about winning.
Benefits of Game Club
As a trained child educator, Liz sees three major benefits game club offers to kids:
- Practicing social interactions (treating each other kindly, waiting for your turn, etc.)
- Critical thinking / problem solving
- Higher order thinking – working through multiple ways to solve a problem
How to Start
At Liz’s school, the board game club started as a chess club. The principal asked her if she would be willing to coach the chess club if she could also add other games and make it something new.
The way Liz runs her club, she has a “game of the week”, which she’ll teach to a group of 6+ kids (and to a second group once the first group gets started). A few kids came from board gaming families, which gave them a leg up on being able to teach games to their peers.
This past year, the club has been run in 6-week, 2-hour sessions. Two hours allows enough to teach and play a whole full-length game, but it’s a little long for some 9-12 year old kids. Some kids who finished early would play filler games (Sushi Dice, War, build card towers). Some kids created their own games; Liz describes a game the kids designed out of Othello pieces and Pass the Pigs.
Advice for parents
Reach out to your children’s principal. Is there a similar club, like a chess club, already in place? Could it be expanded to include board games? You could also reach out to the Parent-Teacher organization and suggest a board game club as a new after school activity.
Liz’s club had very supportive parents who appreciated the club. If your children have this opportunity, thank the teacher!
You could also suggest a parent night – parents and kids playing games together.