games days

How Could Your School Benefit From a Games Day?

Have a Games day in your School!

It's true - the summer holiday is drawing to a close (where did the time go?!) and everyone's getting ready for the start of the new school year. Teachers are frantically making sure that classrooms are immaculate and teaching material is top notch ready for a great term. However, how can you ensure that your school or your class become engaged, excited, and are ready to learn this year?

We have an exciting and unique solution; an Imagination Gaming Games Day!

If you've not heard about us much or about what we do in our day to day activities, then look no further! At Imagination Gaming, we offer solutions to engagement and learning in educational and social organisations - for all ages and abilities, focusing on enjoyment and learning in equal measure. Our goal is to continue to change the perception of games within the UK to one where they are seen and used as the great learning tools that they are. We want to see games used on a regular basis in schools and other organisations, as well as by families and groups, to bring people together and provide a stimulating mental challenge across all ages and abilities.

An Imagination Gaming Games Day is an amazing way to see first hand the truly inspiring benefits games can have in an educational setting. Games days are all about having a fun, group learning experience in which the learning is hidden behind a series of brilliantly clever and thought provoking games. These games are sourced from across the world and ideal for engaging and stimulating children's imagination and creativity. Each of the games has a series of 'golden rules' that they must adhere to so that we know they will work to their potential.

The games we use in our Games Days are quick to teach, and take about 30 seconds to explain the rules. They can be played within 5 to 10 minutes, so are ideal for break time activities as well as whole class use. All the games we use have a huge replay value - no matter which game you play, the outcome will never be the same!

So what does a Games Day include?

  • Games sessions throughout the day with both children and staff
  • Breakfast club activity
  • Lunchtime Games Club
  • Optional Afterschool event for families and staff
  • A copy of all the games for you to keep worth £200

In planning your day we will discuss with you exactly which pupils and staff will benefit from involvement in the day's activities to ensure you can easily continue to reap the rewards of your games day long after we have gone, and to help you do that, you will get to keep all the games used on the day. We will also give you the knowledge, motivation and confidence to make the most of your games in lessons, clubs, organised events and reward time, and do it all through play. All we need from you is a space to play, tables and chairs!

So...if you like the sound of us, are interested in the endless positive challenges and activities we can bring to your school or simply want more information, please get in touch! We can be reached in a number of ways to organise a meeting or phonecall at your convenience:

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Local Recognition for Imagination Gaming

No matter how far we travel, or how more well-known Imagination Gaming becomes, it's always nice to get some local recognition! 

Got a mention in the local paper recently. Its always nice when you get a little recognition but it is certainly not a one man band. We have been in to an awful lot of schools over the last decade and worked with some amazing teachers and children alike.

However, I couldn't have come this far without my partner in crime, Chris Standley, my nagging conscience Nicola Gray and a host of people who've helped out at Expo and other events throughout the years.

Big thank you to all those who have helped and volunteered their time in various ways along the way, volunteering at events, singing our praises to new customers or even just some timely advice... it has all been very much appreciated!

Nigel

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Children's University Tournaments Arrive!

As I type we have just completed the first of three games tournament's as part of our on-going Games compendium project with Sheffield Children's University... and it was brilliant!

Today's event concentrated on Key Stage 2 pupils (7 - 11yr olds) from 10 schools across Sheffield, and in the coming weeks we have events for Key Stage 1 (5 - 7 yr olds) and Key Stage 3 (11 - 14 yr olds) pupils too!

It all started back in November when we delivered our own, specially tailored, boxes of games to schools across Sheffield who are members of the Children's University. The idea was to give them the ability too realise the social and educational benefits of this type of activity and the opportunity to set up their own games clubs.

As further motivation we set up these inter-school games tournaments to giive them something to look forward to and extra reason (if they needed it!) to get on with the games.

Today proved to be a fantastic event and was thoroughly enjoyed by pupils, teachers and the Imagination Gaming team too, so we can't wait for the next tournaments and we'll make sure to tell you all about them, the competition involved and of course all the winners on our blog in a couple of weeks time!

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Too Ghoul For School - 5 Halloween Games That Work For Good!

Halloween is a fantastic time for gamers the world over, with a coffin full of games with a theme to suit and gameplay to get you in the mood for a spooky evenings festivities.

I can think of lots of games that will be dragged screaming out of dark places and played across a dimly lit alter, (ok - games tables with poor overhead lighting), in games stores and dining rooms across the country this evening.

Granted some will be darker than others, some will try and walk a difficult line between good and evil, but there are plenty out there that are good wholesome fun for the entire family, keeping the adults as entertained as the kids.

The games we have chosen to highlight here are not only even better when played by the light of an evil looking pumpkin or two, but are also all games that we use on a regular basis in our family events and learning programs nationwide. So, in no particular order...

 

1. It’s Alive!

Described as ‘the monster building game by Yehuda Berliner’, this fantastic game is sadly, currently out of print, but was one of our core games in the Imagination gaming arsenal when the company started.

Each player has their own castle and hidden from view inside they have a slab on which to construct their Frankenstein-esque monster. On their turn, each player draws a body part card which has a cost to it. This can then be bought to add to their monster, sold to the bank for half its value in gold, or auctioned off to the other mad scientists.

Does it always thunder and lightning when you play this?!

Some body parts are more valuable than others and the same parts can be cheaper or more expensive. With a meager pot of money to start with, knowing when to buy, sell or auction really could mean life or death!

Oh yes - watch out for the villagers too. If they find out you’ve been digging up their ancestors they’ll come knocking on your door and won’t be best pleased!

My favourite memory of this game is playing it at a primary school and as soon as we started, a real storm began to brew outside. Halfway through one young man took his go, and then looked at me and said… “Does it always thunder and lightning when you play this?!”. Never forget that one!

About a 20 - 30 minute game for 2 - 5 players it says on the side of the box it’s for 12+. We can understand why but it has been fantastic for primary and secondary school kids to play, demonstrate and apply money-handling skills and negotiation techniques, all in the name of being able to scream… “It’s Alive!”

 

2. Werewolves Of Millers Hollow

A worldwide hit, ‘Werewolves’ as it is commonly referred to is a game that caters for lots of players up to 15 with one set (though have used more and played with 30+!) and is ideal at parties and get-togethers.

In essence, its a good versus evil battle, with each player given a card with a secret identity at the start of each game to determine which side you are on and what powers, if any, you have. It also requires a ‘narrator’ to guide the game which is simple enough and also fun to do.

The story-teller announces when a day in Millers hollow has ended and the moon has risen. At this point all the villagers close their eyes while the werewolves open theirs and silently point at one villager they would like to feast on!

When morning breaks everybody, villagers and werewolves, opens their eyes and the narrator announces who was eaten. At this point that villager is removed from the game and chaos ensues as the villagers try to work out who might secretly be a werewolf and decide who to kick out of the village. Whoever is chosen reveals their identity and steps out of the game… before night time falls and the werewolves return….

The addition of different characters within the village creates some fantastic dynamics on top of this. For example - the little girl who can peek in the night, the fortune teller who can know the identity of one player each night, and the lovers - when one dies the other can’t continue!

The Werewolves need to eat all the villagers before the villagers kill all the werewolves, whichever faction is eradicated first loses, but there will be casualties on both sides that’s for sure!.

There is also a New Moon expansion for this game that introduces more characters and associated rules, and a limited edition set that incorporates both sets in a new design too.

This is one game we have used to inspire storytelling and roleplay, but is also a simple and fun way to get groups talking and interacting together, and is always a massive hit for with children and adults.

 

3. The Magic Labyrinth

This one is one of those games that you just look at and think… cool! Definitely made for younger kids, it keeps the older ones intrigued too and I see plenty of grown-ups’ playing this together all the time

The magic labyrinth has a multi-layered board but you can only see the top and this is where your ‘wizard’ moves to find things within the maze. The thing is the walls are invisible… but you can’t walk through them!

Each space on the board has something to find and the first one is chosen randomly from a bag of tokens. Players then roll a 4 sided die to see how many spaces they can move on the board - but the direction they take is completely up to them.

Your wizard is magnetic, and as you move him from square to square across the board, the metal ball attached to him on the underside of the board follows. Beneath the playing surface there is a maze of wooden walls that will knock the ball of each time the wizard tries to pass through an ‘invisible’ wall.

Honestly - you’d think it would be easy to begin to remember where the walls are, but as you move around the board you quickly lose track.

A fantastic game of memory and the best bit is that all the walls can be moved to different positions and the playing surface rotated so that every single game really is different.

A-Maz-ing game !

 

4. Zombies

This one we changed a bit. Definitely a more ‘adult’ rated game, this is one too cool to avoid, so while it goes down a storm with older groups, we adapted it to make it more suitable for Imagination Gaming - but the game and the miniatures involved are still very ‘ghoul’!

All players start on a single tile in the middle of the table. This is part of the city you are trapped in. on each turn the player adds a new tile to the board, expanding the cityscape, but in a different way every time.

Every new ‘block’ contains zombies which appear, and each player must roll to move their character to safety and also roll to move the zombie swarm which is growing every go.

Whenever a player is faced with a zombie they must fight it, but they have a myriad of powers / tools / resources that can help them to do this. The objective - to find the helipad and survive long enough to get to it and fly away.

The cards in the original game are definitely a bit gruesome for a younger audience but knowing they’d love the game we did something very special with it. By creating our own deck of suitable cards we can play this game with any age.

The best bit - we use this to fuel imagination for story writing, character development, comic and poster design and other literacy based skills in our Zombie Diaries classes. Mu-ha-ha!

 

5. City Of Zombies

Devised and designed by Matt Tidbury, City Of Zombies is one of our favourite games of the year. Originally conceived to help his young daughter with her Maths, this has become one of the most popular games we use, partly because it looks so cool and everyone loves zombies. Especially zombie dogs, clowns and taxi drivers!

This is a cooperative game played around a board that has zombie cards advancing towards your barricade, where your team must defend the survivors. During each turn, every player gets a chance to fight and destroy zombies as they come out of the city, across the motorway, fields and eventually your backyard with only one thing on their brains.... your brains.

Players work together to fight zombies by rolling dice and then using the numbers to make sums to hit the numbers on the cards. Combinations are allowed, as is the use of squaring (special power!), to destroy one or more zombies at a time.

Meanwhile the rescue plane is on its way. Depending on where you start you have to survive up to 15 turns before the plane lands to whisk you to safety. But the closer the plane gets, the closer the zombies appear.

With plenty of variety of powers, characters, play options and and cards, once you know how it works this game can easily be matched to the age and ability of the group playing and has helped massively in all the maths classes I have used it in so far.

There’s also more to come with re-issues, expansions and more games to follow. Having won 3 of our independently adjudicated Imagination Gaming awards (Best Family, Best Numeracy and Expo Players Choice) in 2014, this is definitely one to watch.

 

Like the sound of these games and others like them?

Come to one of our events, ask us about getting the games for yourselves or tell your school about what we do - it’s fiendishly simple!

This was the first ‘list’ of games we have published on the new blog. Do you recognise any of them, have you played them or would you like to? - Let us know below or catch us on social media, we’d love to hear from you.
Have you any other topics or subjects you would like to find games that link to. Suggest away and it might be the subject of another list soon!

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Why Use Games In Education? - Part 2

Skills For Life

It is commonly remarked upon that the skills we take for granted are taught by the parents, seem woefully lacking in many children these days, and we would be the first to agree. Beyond basic topic based learning, skills such as patience, turn taking, listening and concentration are often skills we find many, if not most, children struggle with, through both primary and secondary levels. These are areas that schools are well aware they have to deal with but must do so alongside delivering the curriculum. Games are the perfect tool with which to tackle and develop these fundamental skills.

Waiting for others to take their turn, letting them take their time to work out their next move or trying to read whether or not they are bluffing are all moments that should be valued and, through continued game play, they become factors in the games that players learn to appreciate and respect.

...the content of a game, and the way in which it works are key for matching a game to a skill, but there's more to it than that...

Okay - Which Games?!

Obviously different games suit different situations, and there are a lot of factors we will consider when choosing what is appropriate at any given time. Clearly the content of a game, and the way in which it works are key for matching a game to a skill, but there's more to it than that. Experience of lots of factors such as age, ability, numbers of players, group dynamics, time and even location are just some of the things we consider when planning what to play. And then there is also the 'on the day' and 'what if' factors that can mean you must be able and ready to adapt what you are doing seconds before and even during play!

All that said, here are a few examples of games that broadly suit certain situations. They are not the only types of games we would use, not by a long way, but will give you a small insight to the different approaches and games that can be useful.

People that struggle with patience are often introduced to games such as Katamino. This puzzle is ideal for those that believe they struggle to focus or exhibit patience. With easy starting solutions to complex mid-term problems it is one of those games that is very moreish and is difficult to stop playing, as the sense of achievement of finishing one level demands you start the next… which, of course, will be even harder!

If we need to improve general listening skills then often cooperative games provide an ideal platform to begin improving these. These games require, for the most, that the players work together to beat the game itself, and that failure to join forces will mean failure as a group, and then no-one wins. Not listening in these games can create frustration in the other players, something which they generally want to avoid, and so without pressure from us a focus and concentration generally descends upon the game. Again, the game must fit the group, but recent games such as Forbidden Desert work well in these situations.

The ability to deal with others is a skill even more vital as we progress through life, but is apparently becoming something that more and more struggle with. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen kids argue within a class over something trivial which in turn disrupts the whole class. When playing a game you are often forced to consider someone else’s opinion, accept another player’s decision or ally with someone then watch as they stab you in the back. Although these can be frustrating occasionally, if run in the right way they can highlight what is required to cope with these decisions.

Games such as Saboteur can be great for evoking conversation and letting us give opinions on what is happening within the game. The fact that from game to game people that were once your allies become saboteurs means that they can no longer make simple assumptions about their friends intentions. We will often pause a game just to solicit opinions from all of the players, creating a banter and atmosphere.

Should we be surprised that children don’t seem to talk to each other in the same way anymore? Shouting at each other, no matter where they are, seems to be the norm. To play a game you often need to hear what’s going on, listen to the thoughts of others or make alliances. This can’t be done if everyone’s shouting. It's remarkable how quiet people can become when concentration is required. Gaining the trust and leading to a game that’s still intriguing but a little slower can once again change behaviour and surprise the players as to how much they enjoyed changing how they interact.

Games such as Dixit are both extremely popular and successful in quieting down a group and creating an atmosphere of concentration and creativity. This game has also worked really well with groups with little or no self-confidence. Speaking out is often daunting to these groups but, after a couple of games, you can find them making great strides and smiles appearing on their faces.

We often find ourselves working with children who have been diagnosed wiith a variety of disorders, as well as children who are very vulnerable and have often been excluded from school due to disruptive or violent behaviour. However, after working with them for short amounts of time we find that they are capable of exhibiting patience and concentration far in excess of what is expected. This is primarily because they quickly choose to play the game. They want to take part. Ultimately it’s about finding activities they are initially comfortable with, that they want to do, that will in turn help them develop and see why these skills are important so that long term we can get them back in to education, work or simply to become a little happier in life.

A game with extremely simple rules but with great scope and potential for increased learning is Take It Easy. We often modify this game to make it easier but after a couple of games find it is not necessary anymore. With each game being different to the player we can play it as a group activity, but with little pressure on the individual as each game is unique. Setting the player the target of beating their previous score results in a group of players waiting eagerly for the next game and all the time concentrating, focusing and using basic maths skills throughout.

Curriculum based skills such as numeracy and literacy appear to be the least cool of all things in the eyes of many children, however if approached correctly the competitive urge, the opportunity to be creatively inspired and the desire to be challenged, which lies within most children, soon comes to the fore. We rarely meet any child that doesn’t enjoy the company of others and a challenge, if it’s done and run in the right way of course.

Think Of The Situation

Understanding how kids think, and being able to relate to them, is a key ingredient for any tuition nowadays. Teachers have a hard enough task teaching, never mind being social workers. Children are expected to go to school and by the first lesson learn. I know I certainly don’t feel like learning when I get up on a morning but that’s what we expect of them. Many children are not sent to school in a mind set of wanting to learn, more along the lines of I don’t want to be here. How can we help change that? Running a games club on a morning get help get those brains warmed up prior to the first lesson. This in turn helps with attitude and attention.

For these sorts of activities the focus should purely be on fun and on games that get the children mixing and laughing. Relaxing and putting a smile on their faces. Learning is easier if you’re happy. Jungle Speed (Insert link & picture) is perfect for this and is guaranteed to get even the most hard faced child involved and laughing. Great concentration required and good reflexes helps!

Splashing games in to a class based environment can not only add a bit of excitement and fun to a class but also a challenge and a chance to apply some of what they are learning. It does not matter what the subject is, there’s usually a game out there that will give you the opportunity to do this.

So What Are We Saying?!

Well -  we are not saying that all kids should do at school is play games. That’s not what this is about. What we are saying though, is that playing games as a group can help create friends where there are none, help give confidence to young people in their own abilities, allow them to try to get better at what they do and what they know and put a smile on their faces when sometimes this doesn’t happen enough.

One slight word of caution on playing games with children or anyone else for that matter… Don’t let them win!...

....There’s more to this of course, it’s a balance, nothings ever black and white. The game you play is important and how you play it with them - just don’t think that letting them win will do much good, short term or long term. We’ll discuss why in more detail in a future blog.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from none other than Albert Einstein himself

Imagination is more important than knowledge

He got this so very right!

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We realise that the title 'Why Use Games In Education' could, should and probably will be the title of a book, rather than a blog this short. There are lots of areas to cover, questions to answer and answers to question! We will get to that. For now you should have a sense of where we are coming from and what we can achieve. As Imagination Gaming we will continue to use on our experience to highlight and share the wide ranging impact of using games in education, something that has been extraordinarily beneficial for countless schools and organisations and got us to where we are today. As always we look forward to your thoughts too....

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