In anticipation of creating more complex board games we constructed paper dice. Everyone is used to 6 sided cubic dice so I brought in templates for 8 sided and 20 sided. We had enough time to make the octahedra but the students had to take the icosahedra templates home. Hopefully they were able to employ a parent to help because constructing a 20 sided dice is quite a challenge!
Picaria is a two person game that originated from the Zuni or Pueblo Indians in the American Southwest. The play is similar to tic-tac-toe, but consists of two stages: laying down pieces, then moving them to try to form three in a row. It’s a quick game and after the students finished creating and decorating their boards we all had an opportunity to play a few rounds.
I found this project on the Bloesem Kids blog and it’s a wonderful way to recycle old CD jewel cases.
Before class I emptied out some old cases from boxes of CDs I had stored in the attic. I had to reject a few that had parental advisory stickers attached (doesn’t Prince’s Purple Rain seem kind of quaint these days?), as well as a few that were cracked. The Bloesem blog advises using Fimo dough to create small balls to navigate the maze but I used ball bearings instead. Luckily our local hardware store has a drawer with loose steel ball bearings for $.20 each. A diameter of 5/16″ was perfect; bigger than that and the ball would get stuck in the case, smaller and it would jump the sides of the maze.
In class I handed out Wikki Stix, which are short strings coated in a sticky wax. I first had the kids use one string to close off the left side of the case, near the hinge. Without this first string the ball would just fall out of the left edge since the gray CD holder had been removed. The lid of the jewel case has a little ridge on this edge so the Wikki Stick forms a perfect seal. Each child got a set of strings and scissors and proceeded to form their mazes.
They learned how to make wide and narrow channels, loops and dead ends. I cut construction paper the size of the case and used double sided tape to secure it to the outside bottom of the case. Everyone got a ball bearing and we taped the case shut so the ball wouldn’t fall out. The insides were a little sticky and the ball didn’t roll all that smoothly, but it still made a fun little toy and they look great.
This week our class laid out board games. Based on a Halloween theme of a pumpkin patch, each student created a meandering path across a poster board, divided it into sections and filled it with four colors. We then decorated the board with pumpkins, gravestones and haunted houses. One child even made a pumpkin lake, a huge oval filled with pumpkins, which he thought was hilarious. Next week we’ll make four-sided dice to roll and create a set of playing pieces from Crayola model magic.
UPDATE: The projects turned out great! The first and second graders had a bit of difficulty making pyramid dice from the Model Magic so I assisted with that, but otherwise we had a lot of fun making Halloween themed playing pieces. We made little pumpkins, ghosts and black cats. The dice were made from four-sided pyramids, with the top points flattened and colored with markers. This made for a nice alternative from the usual six-sided die and allowed us to have the pieces move ahead based on the color rolled, rather than a number. A few observant students pointed out that this is how the game Candy Land works, with a path of alternating color squares, although that game involves picking cards. We finished with enough time to play a few rounds of the game and enjoyed playing with our creations.
For our second class of “Let’s Make Games” we created a set of memory match cards. Each student received a set of 16 cards on which to make 8 pairs of images. I had printed a drawing of a pear with the words “Pick Pairs” onto one side of the cards, making them a little harder to see through. Using fruit as the theme I walked everyone through the steps of drawing graphical fruits, from apples and oranges through strawberries and lemons slices. The children then duplicated their images and everyone had a fun set of cards to play with. One child bragged about how well he could remember and proceeded to demonstrate with a quick game of pair picking.
The Girl Scouts has created a really cool interactive video that walks viewers though the creation of a video game, including the different job roles at a game design studio and the creative process in a work environment. The video outlines the design decisions and engineering work that go into game creation, all while allowing the viewer to choose different elements for their own custom game. It’s a great way for kids to get an idea of how creative studios function and how teams of people with different talents can work together to create a unique product.
LINK: Be the Video Game Developer