Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Game Club 101

So a reader (I know!  Isn't that cool!  I have more than one!) asked a question in the comments about running a game club.  This brave soul has ventured out to sponsor a club for 12 and 13 year olds.  (Let's all give her a standing ovation for this brave feat.)  She asked for suggestions...and, well, wouldn't you know it, I have a few.

Mrs. Eagle and I have been sponsoring our school's chess and board game club for something like seven years now.  (Note to people who think teachers are lazy bottom feeders who are in it just for a paycheck - we don't get paid for this.  We do it because our kids need clubs to go to.  It's the right thing for the kids.)  Over the years we've learned a few things.

One, deal with the noise.  If you can't handle noise, get earplugs.  This age group can make Monopoly sound like a combat sport.  I am not kidding.  We consider game club an hour and half of screaming mayhem and other teachers will walk in, shake their heads, and ask, "How do you do it?" and we just smile and nod.  Mainly because we really couldn't hear them anyway.  (It's so loud we tell the front office that if they have to call us, to just run on down, as we won't hear the phone anyway.)  You get 60 kids in there playing games, it's loud.

Rules for games.  Sigh.  A lot of the games the kids have never played before.  That's fine.  Just sit down, find about 3 or so kids (most games play well with 4) and play with them.  Even if it means you're figuring out the rules.  For some reason they get a huge kick out of playing a game with teacher.  Especially when they win.  (I let them.)  Once you have a few kids who know the rules, have them teach others. They'll pick up on it.  Then again, there are a lot of games they may remember from when they were "little."

Kids hate to pick up after themselves.  Too bad, if they're playing games, they're picking up.  After every meeting we do a "pieces crawl", where the kids get down on their hands and knees and find the pieces they dropped.  Because they WILL drop pieces.  It's also good to train your janitor to drop off the pieces he finds when he cleans up the room.  It's not unusual for me to come in on Tuesday mornings and find a battleship, a Scabble square, and a couple of cards on my desk.

These kids are ready to eat the furniture after school so a great way to raise money is to sell snacks.  We took about $60 a few years ago and bought Capri Sun drinks, and bags of Teddy Grahams, Cheeze-it's, and the like and we sell them for fifty cents a piece.  We do this all year long, the kids get a snack, we resupply as needed, and usually by the end of the year have enough money for a pizza party and a few new games.   We also do a hat day once a year (kids pay a dollar to wear a hat at school) and we usually clear about $200.  We really don't need much money to run this club, as long as you have funds to replace games that wear out, or buy new ones.

Games our kids like, and this may vary depending on where you live, are chess, Risk, Monopoly (we bought the electronic version a few weeks ago), Operation, Apples to Apples, Stratego, Battleship, and Phase 10.  This does change a bit from year to year.  Right now we have a lot more Risk fanatics than chess, so that's a really popular game with our crowd.

And lastly, have fun with it.  You'll meet kids in a different environment from the classroom and actually get to know them alot better.  Mrs. Eagle and I tend to scope out the sixth graders and see which ones we each want on our team - it's fun the first day of school when the kids already know you and you already know them.

Cheers!  Have fun!

4 comments:

Angel Read said...

Sounds like a fun club! I would totally join! If you have a Goodwill near you, you can get a ton of games there for dirt cheap... I used to babysit school-aged kids and I would stock up on board games at Goodwill. Of course they never would play the games because they preferred the Wii... but... I tried!

Jenn said...

So, I know every district and every school is different, but in your opinion, what would be my reception if (as just a concerned citizen - not a mom, teacher or anything like that) I went to a school and volunteered to start a board game club. Would I be laughed off campus?

Eleanor said...

Thank you so much! That's awesome!

I will definitely try and get the games you suggested - we only have Monopoly and chess out of the ones you named. I provide snacks but don't charge as quite a few kids don't have even fifty cents. I'm going to sit down and play with the kids too, but it gets tricky when there are lots of kids who don't know how to play anything, and the ones who do often need help setting up. What do you do when that happens?

You're right, it is loads of fun! Usually I only get to see the naughty kids in the evening, for detention, so it's a good change, and a great way of getting to know the quieter kids.

Thank you so much for the advice, I'm excited to get back to it now!

Kate said...

You might also consider applying for a grant from Funagain games. There's more detail about it here: http://www.funagain.com/control/rc?p=grants

I don't have any affiliation with Funagain games. I've bought games from them in the past and noticed that they offer this program.

As far as games go, you might also want to try Bohnanza (a card game), Ticket To Ride (a board game), and Pandemic (a cooperative board game).