Reub's journey

06 March 2011

Board games

As an art teacher I am unfettered by standardized tests, pre-determined curriculum, and text books. Sure, there are local, state, and national standards-all of which I believe are good things-but I am left quite free to follow my own path. That's nice, because this time of year I often feel like trying something new.

Sooo, anybody feel like designing board games?

A chess set
The idea came to me as I worked with my small group of alternative ed kids on a day when we were using clay. The game pieces are made of clay and painted with acrylic.

After making their game pieces they decided to make a whole bunch of individual squares which we planned to glue down to the board like chutes and ladders. Trouble was, it was so much fun making penalty squares that the game was impossible to win: oops!

They had to re-think the game, and come up with positive moves. (Was this a metaphor or what?) In the end, they decided not to glue down anything, but to create a different game each time by re-arranging the squares.

Some of their "safe spots" were heartbreaking:
"Safe House: safesafesafesafesafesafesafesafe:HELP"

"You found a ticket to get across the border."

"Got away from police, you are home free."

After going through this process with the alt ed kids, I introduced it to my eighth graders, and they went through a similar bunch of steps.

 It has been fun to see the variety of games. This one has helicopters, a motorcycle, planes, and tanks for game pieces, all made by a 13 year old boy from Korea.

A "shopping game" created by-you guessed it- a pair of 14 year old girls. I am quite fond of the little flip-flop game piece.

Although I also like this little hat. Pretty cool.

And then there is the western-themed game.

A horse shoe game piece, painted silver.

From horse-loving teen-aged girls.

This game has octopus tentacles in it.

That little green-and-red piece is a venus flytrap game piece! When I played this game I was sternly warned by its creator "to be careful with the venus flytrap." (What, they think I'm clumsy?)

This complicated game is about basketball.

It seems to be very popular. Maybe they should apply for a patent, eh?


  1. I love the variety in these games!!! what an awesome idea. i want to be in your art class, 8th grade i'd long had to choose - music or art, and somehow music won out...

  2. They will remember this project their whole lives and who knows what lessons learned that will impact how they approach the game of life.

  3. My son would love you! He used to make games his entire elementary years. We once showed one to his teacher that he made after learning about the US Revolutionary War and it brought a tear to the teacher's eye.

    I love all the creativity shown here.

  4. So fun. I used to love making board games!

  5. What a great idea! I'm slow in catching on that you're an art teacher!
    About the chess: it so happens that right now i'm in the process of painting a chess "game" -when it's done I'll alert you:)


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