school

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!

Tags: 

Inter-School Tournaments a Winner!

Over the last 12 months we have had the opportunity to do something new in schools. Inter-School Games Tournaments. And they've proved a massive success...

We've always known that kids (and grownups!) love a bit of healthy competition. That's one of the reasons our school games days and programmes are so successful. The engagement of competitive fun on a level playing field for all means that we can get all kinds of students and teachers navigating educational and social barriers, whilst having a great time. It's easy to do that in a single school (though 5 years ago we wouldn't necessarily have said that) but how to make it something that can easily be introduced to neighbouring schools to help integrate wider communities. I suppose the fact that we even tried it was a sign of how far we'd come.

We have had the opportunity to try this out in a few different scenarios... and it has been an instant hit... we now have schools involved in regular, Inter-School competition, and always eagerly anticipating the next one!

 

Earlier in the year, thanks to our association with the fantastic Sheffield arm of the Children's University, we were able to start something new with a large number of schools in that area. Essentially, each school were given a box of games specifically designed for the key stage appropriate to them, a gruelling training session* (fun gaming with coffee and biscuits that is!), and some of our own quick-play instructions to help them along. Back at school they introduced regular games clubs and got ready for their age group's inter-school tournament, each of which was a resounding success.

Across the county in Barnsley, with the help of some very impressed headteachers, we also now have plenty of schools involved in various interschool tournaments. The games have become an integral part of many of their school days, not just in clubs, but in the classroom and in family learning worshops too. They are always eagerly anticipating the next tournament and it's truly fantastic to see all the different schools having something to get excited about together, that they can benefit from individually every day too.

Each tournament has involved presentations of trophies, certificates and prizes, and the teachers have a great day too. Split between several schools, the cost becomes almost negligible making it that much more valuable and accesible and best of all, if you host the day, you don't have to pay anything at all!

There'll be plenty more info and examples of Inter-School tournaments appearing soon, but if you want to get ahead of the game and make the first move you can ask for more details right now. You'll find our contact details right here!

 

Tags: 

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?!

 

Tags: 

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!

...

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....

Tags: