Lessons in Luck (1)

I’m a teacher. All I need are minds for moulding.

– Dewey Finn, School of Rock (2003)

Today, at my sons’ primary school was the first day of this year’s “golden time” sessions.  Parents are invited to volunteer to run various fun activities for the P4-P7 pupils at the school.  I am one such volunteer, and my fun activity is – of course – board games.  In fact, as the school has taken to describing it “Games you’ve never played before!”.

Jungle Speed
Jungle Speed

I had a group of four, and so we settled down to a game of Forbidden Island. One child (my son) had played before and it was new to another three. I explained the rules and we sat down to raid the island for treasures, not forgetting our wellie boots. The four of them: Messenger, Engineer, Explorer and Navigator gathered first, synchronised watches, and raced off to collect treasure cards.

Those cards were kind at first, with few “Waters Rise” cards appearing early in the game.  Perhaps this lulled the team into a false sense of security.  Then, like waterbuses, the flood cards started appearing in pairs and the water began pooling around the ankles of all four players.

The game (played at Novice level) ended with a success for the team in just over 30 mins.  Before that, the game had clearly started to exert its unique brand of tension on each of them.  Each “Waters Rise” card turned over to a groan, and each tile lost beneath the waves mourned like a deceased pet.  Frenzied pointing across the table and cries of “No, no, no. Move there, then flip that tile over! Move me with the helicopter!” were music to my ears.

25 mins to go and we have time for something else.  But what?

Having recently picked up this dexterity game in a local charity shop at the recommendation of another parent volunteer, I suggested this to my four pupils with the summary: “It’s a bit like snap”.  Having removed the arrow cards to simplify matters, I dealt the cards, instructed them on turning over cards in the correct manner and sat back to the game which followed.

It started slowly at first, but matching the pattern not the colour became easier as the game went on.  One player came within a single card of winning, only to have the totem grabbed from under them while in the throes of victory.  This game did not conclude, and victory was shared on a (very) rough card count between two players.

Now, what shall we play next week … ?

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