literacy

Our Top 5 Must-Have New Literacy Games

Over the last few months, we've searched high and low to bring you the best Family and Educational games from across the globe in a variety of subjects and categories. Today, we're giving you an insight to the world of Literacy and words! 

So...why is Literacy one of the most important parts of life and growing up?

Literacy is often seen by others as simply reading and writing, but in fact, this is only a fraction of what it involves. Literacy is also language and communicating. It's sitting down with a friend and having a conversation about the weather or yesterday's lunch, it's completing your homework and it's most definitely using your imagination! Literacy is essential to get through life both as a child and an adult.

As always, there's never a cut off point to stop learning, which is why we've compiled this list of our top 5 Must -Have New Literacy Games from this year's Imagination Gaming Awards for you to try out!

1. StoryLine: Scary Tales (Literacy Gold Award Winner) 

StoryLine is a collaborative storytelling game that uses two card decks to shape the story. The narrator deck determines the broad strokes, while cards from the story deck fill in the details. Each turn, the narrator reads a card from the narrator deck, and every other player chooses a story card from their hand that matches the element asked for. The player whose suggestion is chosen earns a reward, while the narrator shifts to the next person. Scary Tales offers an engaging and wholesome experience for the whole family. Beyond simply providing entertainment, StoryLine encourages engaged reading, inspires creativity, and makes memories.

2. Imagidice (Literacy Gold Award Winner)

Imagidice features 12 dice with pictures from popular categories. You can use Imagidice as a conversation starter, a language learning tool, or for telling stories. You might even have some clever ideas we haven't thought of for Imagidice! Imagidice are a great way to fuel your creativity and get people talking.

3. Anomia (Literacy Gold Award Winner)

Normally, it's easy to give an example of a dog breed or a frozen food - but you’ll find that your brain works differently under pressure. Flip cards until symbols on two players’ cards match. Matching players must race to give an example of the category on their opponent’s card. Whoever blurts out a correct answer first wins their opponent’s card, and drawing continues. Sounds easy, right? Think again!

4. Pass the Bomb/Pass the Bomb Junior (Literacy Silver Award Winner)

There are two different versions of Pass the Bomb, one of which being a junior version! 

In Pass the Bomb, players nerves are tested to the limit by the threat of the ticking bomb. In turn players must shout out a word that contains the letters on the card and pass the bomb before it ‘explodes’. The game starts when one of the cards is turned over and reveals between two and four letters. The die is rolled to determine whether the letters that are on the card has to be at the beginning or end of the word, or no restriction (meaning they can appear anywhere in the word).

Pass The Bomb Junior is a truly brilliant game where each player in turn has to think of an object that might be found in the picture on the card. What makes this game unique is the ticking bomb which each player passes on after their turn – they have to be quick because nobody knows when the bomb is going to explode! The suspense is what makes this game extremely fun and the ticking sound from the bomb really adds to the pressure of it all. If you’re holding the bomb when it goes off, you have to keep the card. The player with the least number of cards at the end of the game is the winner.

5. Travel Jask (Literacy Silver Award Winner)

Travel Jask is the quick-fire quiz. Which is both fun and thought provoking played at a fast pace – everyone plays and no-one is left out. Get your answer in first and win the letter and accumulate enough letters to correctly spell an answer to the chosen category and win the game.

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Tell-A-Tale Pirate - Game Overview

Tell A Tale Pirate

Ahoy there, it’s story time! Introducing Tell-A-Tale Pirate, the fantastic pirate-themed, storytelling game! A Gold Award winner for Best Literacy Game in this years Imagination Gaming Family and Education Awards 2016, Tell-A-Tale Pirate has lots to offer and is simple to play at the same time. Brought to us by Cheatwell Games, this game is is perfect for ages 3 and up and can be enjoyed alone or with up to four players at a time. Those swashbuckling pirates, brave heroes and the odd animal companion need your help to tell their story! Will they embark on a perilous journey to find the buried treasure or will they meet some villains on an old abandoned ship wreck? How your story unfolds is up to you! In the Tell-A-Tale series, there are three different themes to choose from, including Farmyard and Fairytale! Arrr, we’ll be looking at the pirate version (if you couldn’t tell!)

The delightful game box, complete with age appropriate artwork, is definitely appealing. The contents inside the box include a wooden base and a 2-sided backdrop, so you can change the scene in your story. There are also 21 pirate play pieces and 4 dice. Each dice has different images of the pieces on each side apart from one, which has six different words.The game is very easy to pick up and is one with a world of possibilities! The players in the game firstly set up the stage; the 2 pieces of wooden base fit together like a jigsaw and the 2-sided backdrop slots into one of the spaces on it. Will you be looking out to sea or will your story be set on a ship? When this is set up, you can then begin! The first player rolls all four dice to see the characters, items and word they will be using for this part of the story. Pirate pieces can be slotted into the base and moved around which really makes your tale come to life. Now you can begin to tell your story! Players continue in this way throughout the game and can work together to create the most wonderful adventure! You are sure to have hours of fun with this one!

This game was a big hit at last years awards, and everyone was super impressed (myself definitely included!) It was also extremely popular at this year’s UK Games Expo in the Family Zone; children and families created some absolutely out of this world adventures for their characters, which was so refreshing to see. I remember sitting with a family with 2 young children at the event, and after explaining how the game worked, they were off! Parents couldn’t get a word in edgeways, but they were blown away with the vocabulary their children were using, and how quickly they picked up the game.

Tell-A-Tale Pirate is an outstanding game for Literacy skills and to improve verbalisation and vocabulary. It helps to develop creative thinking in children by them using their imagination to create stories from start to finish; including characters, using dice and different settings. It would be a perfect game to add to your collection, and a game which can be used in a Nursery setting and beyond! Players can be left to their own devices in order to think alone and build on their problem solving skills or team up with friends to share ideas and create the ultimate quest! Where will your story take you? A great game and a well deserved award winner!

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The Imagination Gaming Family & Education Awards 2015 Are Here!

 

The IG Awards are back… and we’ve stepped it up… a lot!

Yep, this years Imagination Gaming Family & Education Game Awards are back and the process of finding this years great games begins.

For 2015 we have a brand new part of the Imagination Gaming website dedicated to the awards here, but which you can also find at the end of this article, so hang on a minute! There’s lots to add, especially the games which we will release throughout the process, but we’re really proud of it and hope you’ll love it too.

As always we started talking about this year’s awards months ago, very quietly, but for very good reason. Each year in October we go to Essen Spiel - the worlds largest hobby gaming convention, and even though the awards process is 6 months away, it’s the perfect opportunity to get started. Probably because it’s the ‘eye of the storm’ so to speak - the calm bit before we start the new awards season and also when we’ve just recovered from the previous one!

In fact we started getting new games handed to us at the culmination of last years awards, in May, at UK Games Expo. These were substantially added to not only at Essen, but throughout the year as we are sent new games to not only test but to use in our workshops and events nationwide.

Some of the games are yet to be published and from small companies or individuals, some are heading to market, and some already have the weight of major games industry players behind them.

Where the games come from doesn’t matter to us, all that we are concerned with is finding great games to share with those who love what we do and the wider gaming community. This in turn helps to give these games the exposure they need either to get off the ground, or find their way into even more homes and schools than before…

If you’ve never come across the Imagination Gaming Family & Education Game Awards before, below is a brief catch up to get you up to speed… and then you’ll be ready for this year!

 

Back in 2013…

...we decided to launch a new set of awards to recognise great games that families and educators consider invaluable in developing a range of social and curriculum skills… as well as just good, solid fun!

Of course, we did this as part of Imagination Gaming's ongoing ambition to raise awareness in the UK of the joy and value that great table-top games bring to everyday life, as well as the influence and effect they can have as resources to improve thinking and communication skills for everyone.

The whole process enables UK game enthusiasts to see games they would never normally have access to, games makers from all over the world and of any size to get their games noticed, and for us to find games that we can continue to show to the thousands children, teachers and parents in our daily schools, libraries, events and community groups nationwide. Hopefully everyone's a winner!

During the awards process we consider a wide range of board and card games currently available as well as the new ones looking to get our and your attentiona and find a market in the UK, with a view to finding the ones that really do what it says on the box! The awards recognise the games that our panel of judges and ourselves have not only played and enjoyed, but also, (and most crucially,) the games we have found to have a significant impact in engaging, exciting and educating whoever we have been playing them with.

We were over the moon with the response first time round from the industry and fans alike and from early on it was clear that this would become an annual event...

 

Year 2, 2014!

The 2nd year of the game awards saw us introduce another category - the Family Classic award - and this along with the Excelled in Schools awards became more of a 'hall of fame' ('hall of game' if you prefer!), with all winners being recognised equally. We look forward to adding to this illustrious list each year and recognising the games that have made a consistent difference with schools and families year after year.

 

And now?!...

So here we are for the 2015 IG Game Awards... with a brand new website and lots more to see!

We will be compiling nomination lists for each award from new games submitted by companies world-wide for review and consideration, and where applicable, games from our collection used in Imagination Gaming workshops based on our experience and the feedback they have received.

All nominated games will be available to play in the Imagination Gaming Family Zone at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham at the end of May, with all visitors having the chance to vote on an extra special award as part of their gaming experience. All awards will be announced the following week.

We are welcoming and encouraging submissions for each category right now, so...

 

What's In It for the Nominees and the Winners?

Everlasting fame and glory?! Quite possibly, but also…

Each winner will be given a badge of honour to use to promote their award winning games to the world! We will supply companies with electronic versions of logos to use at will throughout promotion and packaging as they see fit. These will demonstrate the game has been recognised as having outstanding merit by the very type of people that are looking for games to add to their collection, or a great starting place for those new to games like this.

Games will regularly be used as appropriate throughout our Games Days and Events nationwide as examples of great games that families and educators will love to play and teach with for years to come. This means that school children, teachers and families will be able to sit down and experience the games for themselves and get a chance to learn all about the game from one of our demonstrators and see just how good it is.

Games that we receive that are shortlisted for any award and are not currently available in the UK will be immediately brought to the attention of the distributors we work with. We don't just want our customers and schools to be able to play the game with us… if they like it; we want to make sure we can get one for them to keep too!

You can be sure that any game that we like for any reason throughout this process will, wherever possible be made available via the Imagination Gaming online store, and promoted as such!

If you would like to submit one of your games for this years awards we'd love to hear from you. Visit the Awards main page here to find more details on individual awards, eligibility and how you can enter. The closing date for submissions this year is Friday April 24th 2015

 

As always we would love to hear your thoughts on this years awards and the games as they appear. Find all the latest games and information on our dedicated IG Game Awards page, and all the links you need to tell us what you think via Facebook, Twitter and more.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope you will spread the word too…

...Are You Game?!

 

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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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