Strategy Games of the World

If you’re a gamer, stop in to the class Strategy Games of the World during Open House tonight to play original games created by second and third graders.

“We’re making games for the Open House tonight,” said Henry. His original game is based on an old board game from Norway, called Fox and Geese. “I used the same game board, but added more,” he said. “The objective is not to lose the big piece and all the little pieces.”

Sage’s game is “kind of like checkers and go-muku,” a game from Asia. He started with an original game board design from Morocco, and added his own elements.

Like in checkers, players can use jump moves in Sage’s game. “You win by capturing all the opponent’s pieces,” he said.

Henry and Sage learned lots of different strategies in the class. “We play a game and then we tell our strategies, and then play again,” Henry explained. “After we share our strategies, we practice trying them out by playing again.”

Ramatee took Strategy Games because she “loves to play games,” she said. “My favorite game is Hex. It was easy to learn.”

Ramatee colored the intersecting points of her four-by-four game grid with different colored markers. Her “Four-Way Rainbow Game” is played using blue and pink plastic gem pieces that move along the points with the objective of creating four in a row. After teaching me the game, Ramatee quickly used her learned strategies to defeat me in about six moves.

Teacher Tom Mathern reminded the students to be sure their game was fair and that they can clearly teach it to others.

“What he means by fair is that someone can lose,” Nathan explained. He knows he has accomplished the “fairness” test because, “I haven’t won once!” he said about playing his own game.

Nathan and Maksim reached across the game board and shook hands. From their wide grins and good sportsmanship, it was difficult to figure out who had won and who had lost.

Nathan’s game is based on checkers, which he thinks originally came from England. The square grid board forms the base and the pieces are yellow and blue plastic disks. “You can move and hop any direction and you win by capturing all of the pieces,” he taught me. “You jump over your opponent’s pieces.”

Maksim’s game was influenced by Ceega, a game played in ancient Egypt. It features the unique “sandwich capture” that occurs when a player has surrounded an opponent’s piece on two sides. “The sandwich capture was interesting to me,” Maksim said about why he chose the game board from Ceega.

Good luck defeating these strategic kids at their own games!

Patterns & Impressions: Variety

Little dancers in Patterns and Impressions Variety today learned to use and identify patterns through dance.

Teacher Leah’s every movement had the elegance of smooth, practiced choreography. “I’m Miss Leah,” she said, sweeping her leg out and slowly swirling her arms. She asked each first grader to come up with a movement to use to introduce themselves to the group.

Students practiced their signature movements. Around the circle were powerful kick outs, gentle twirls, awkward shimmies, and silly gestures.

After introductions, Leah asked the children to describe what they noticed from the exercise. Lena raised her hand. “I noticed that everyone did a movement.”

“Everyone was saying their names in syllables,” offered Ananya.

Juliana hit on the theme of the class: “Some people looked like they were doing patterns,” she noticed.

Further patterns arose during movement warm ups. A foot movement pattern was 1 and 2, and 1, 2, 3. The shoulders hunched up and down – 1 and 2, and 1 and 2.

When students returned to a neutral position, Miss Leah asked how feet should be placed when standing back in place. “Feet are always parallel,” offered Abigail. She had learned about keeping feet parallel to each other from her ski lessons, she said.

Editorial comment – Every child should dance every day! It was wonderful to see our little limber students embracing the movements with no self consciousness and using their boundless energy in expressive ways!

The students caught on quite remarkably to the abstract concept of positive and negative space. Miss Leah asked them to touch their arms, legs, bellies, shoulders, while saying, “Positive space!”

If that is positive space, what is negative space? she asked. Nathan gave it a shot: “It’s up and down,” he said, “and horizontal.”

Olive added, “Right and left.”

It’s “everywhere around the body,” Miss Leah confirmed.

“Make a shape that complements your partner,” she asked the students. “Make a shape around them in the negative space, like two puzzle pieces.”

Patterns & Impressions: Language Arts

Looking at the world through a first grader’s eye reminds us of how much we miss in our environment. Students in Patterns and Impressions, Language Arts, found patterns everywhere in nature on Thursday.

“We are at Como Zoo looking at a lot of animals, like gorillas, zebras, giraffes,” Emmy explained. “Zebras take dust baths,” she said, showing me a drawing of the striped pattern she drew when observing the zebras. “We’re making observations about them,” she said. “Seeing spots, stripes…”

“…and dots!” chimed in Harper.

Pattern observations continued in the Pollinator tent, where Harper was on the look out for Fibonacci patterns. “I see one, two, three, four, and five petals on the flower,” she said, pointing to a bright yellow-ish, orange bloom. “Yes, that’s a Fibonacci!”

The Fibonacci Sequence is the series of numbers 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5…. The next number in the sequence is found by adding up the two numbers that come before it. “One plus 1 is 2, so 2 is a Fibonacci,” Harper said. “2 plus 3 equals 5, and 5 is a Fibonacci.”

Oliver peered through the mesh surrounding a garden looking for patterns among the pollinators. “I’m looking at the bees,” he said. “Yellow-black, yellow-black on the bee.”

Ceci sketched in her notebook. She recorded examples of patterns she found at the Zoo. Her sketch of a star flower showed “five Fibonacci”. She found patterns in a turtle’s shell as well. “He kind of had squares on his back.”

One sketch featured a stingray with lines around the outside of his body. “The stingray has little cuts,” Ceci pointed out. “There’s a big one and a little one, a big one and a little one, all the way around.”

Just a little reminder for all of us to open our eyes to the wonder all around, just like a first grader.