15 favorite board games of our field team!
It's playtime, folks! As we continue to bring Play to at-risk children like we have in the past 15 years, we bring to you 15 of our favourite games. We got our Field Officers to handpick them. After all, they are on-ground and in the thick of things as they become one among the kids along with learning important life lessons themselves. Our team will tell you what makes these games so special and close to their hearts. It's all about the emotion that drives the joy they receive from these games.
Playing with Colours!
Games teach us to forget our differences. Whether we’re playing with familiar faces or with people of the opposite gender, we collaborate to achieve a common goal – completing the game. Says our field officer Rashmin, “Everyone is involved in their own set of goals. But as soon as a coherent picture starts to form, they get involved as a team and forget their differences.” This drive should trickle down to our lives as adults as well; in a world where grown-ups can’t see past what makes us all different, maybe we should take a page out of these children’s books and learn to view everyone as members of the same team.
The goal of this engineering system is to construct complex ideas from scratch. This is not an easy game to play, calling in the students’ ability to understand nuts, bolts and screwdrivers, and to work together as a creative team. Our field officers really imbibe a sense of collaboration from this game – teaming up in the face of a challenge – a quality that is useful at all ages and in all phases of life.
It is important for children and adults alike to learn the quality of perseverance – not giving up in the face of a daunting task. What better way than to present them challenges in the form of a game, which compels them to try harder every time they lose? This is exactly the objective of this pattern-recognition game in which players try to find an image shown on two cards. Something valuable that we can learn from this game is to enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the end goal; every time we lose, we pick up the cards and ask to play again. Put beautifully by our team member Madhulika, “It’s a very natural way of learning – to give it another shot and not give up.”
Discover India Puzzle
A personal favourite of our officer Nisha, this puzzle game requires students to recreate the map of India piece-by-piece. It presents a dual challenge to students who need to learn the states of India while also fitting the pieces in the right place. This is also a tough game for students to begin with, but with due diligence, they are rewarded with a complete picture of the Map of India. A more pervasive idea is the sense that life extends beyond the confined walls of the social circumstances we call home. Pointing out on a map just how tiny our homes are in relation to the infinite potential of travel – that’s exactly the inspiration to be fearless and ambitious that all of us wished we had as children.
Games are the perfect medium to develop children’s skills in critical thinking – the ability to strategise and break a problem down in order to solve it. Our team member Navya’s favourite game Business, a property trading board game, does exactly that – it involves a lot of patience and strategy while also teaching kids the more sophisticated ideas of trade policies, money exchange and economic development.
Jungle Hide and Seek
This is a one player strategy game that requires students to place puzzle pieces on a game board to hide all animals except the ones demanded by their challenge. This game triggers the deepest s abilities of the children to strategize and also teaches them the virtue of trial and error. Don’t be fooled – adults struggle with this game as well; it isn’t uncommon to catch our field officers glued to a desk trying to figure out the game long past the end of their sessions. It is amazing to see how simple games can bring out our inner competitiveness and drive to achieve small successes.
We love playing Colour Track with our kids as well, a deceptively simple game that asks students to stack tiles on top of one another to recreate a colour-shape composition. This game really tests the students’ visio-spatial coherence but is extremely satisfying to watch as they gradually complete.
Crossword and Count Down
Some of the games we enjoy playing with our kids also target specific academic talents such as mathematics and spelling. These are both simple games that ask kids to form easy words in English from assigned letters towards the accumulation of points. Our Field Officer Neha believes, "They’re a great confidence boost for children who are not very comfortable in English, and hesitate to speak in the language for the fear of making mistakes.” Sadly, a lot of us, even today, still struggle with the language and have resigned to a lack of confidence in our abilities. It is amazing to watch students use these games as a stepping stone from simple word construction to more complex sentence building, a virtue that all of us as adults can now appreciate.
Calculus is an arithmetic game that teaches the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division through the use of dice. Teachers also enjoy playing this game! In fact, some of them have vowed to play it themselves with their own children at home in the future.
Taboo and Pictionary
The ability to communicate ideas effectively is a rudimentary, but vital, skill whose development at a young age visibly sets us up for success once we’re older. Games have the uncanny ability to improve this naturally. These games ask students to guess words and phrases without their explicit use; it requires them to design pictures or think of related words that’ll guide their team members to the right answer. A personal favourite of our team member Christine, games like these, which require students to communicate with each other in any way other than direct words, “forces them to innovate in the way they transmit ideas to one another; some of them resort to using inside jokes which also reinforces their friendships with one another.”
What Things are Made up of
We enjoy watching children play games wherein their imagination and creativity are on full display. What Things are Made up of is a game designed for primary students and deals with everyday items such as dairy products, wool, etc with the goal of connecting products to their source. This is a game that our officer Aishwarya loves playing with her students, because, “it is not too taxing on the brain but displays a child’s creativity in understanding where the things we utilise in everyday life come from.”
Lego is a proven favourite of children and adults alike worldwide, and we are no exception. We can truly feel the kid’s imagination and dreams working at full potential while they attempt to build something from scratch with no guidance. The children live vicariously through the blocks – whether it’s imagining a simple block creation as something complex like a dog, or building a replica of what they imagine to be a large play area in their future house. We believe that adults can also gain immensely from something simple like these building blocks; it teaches us that dreams and aspirations have no age limit, and that it is never too late to envision our future in a different light.