Chutes & Ladders

Chutes & Ladders
Originally uploaded by javavenus32.

While I was thinking about my idea to go play board games at the school at recess, I realized that I’d never successfully persuaded our next door neighbor to play one. So today I tried it. He and Moomin and I played Chutes and Ladders. Nukie could count up to 6, but had to have a lot of explanation about the concept of moving from square to square in the right direction. I thought about how Moomin has been exposed to grids of 100 numbers since he was three.

It was hard to tell where Nukie’s points of confusion were. Finally I figured out that he can read the numbers 1, 2, and 3 but is uncertain when they go higher. My instructions don’t always make sense to him. He began to catch on, though. Most interesting for him — the children who did something good or bad. (In case you don’t remember, there are moral tales built into Chutes and Ladders; if you land on a ladder, there is a picture of a kid bandaging an animal’s paw, or mowing the lawn. If you land on a chute, then there’s a kid who broke a window with a baseball or ate too much candy and gets a stomach ache. ) He wanted to know the children’s names, and the names of their parents, and their brothers and sisters, and if they did it because they were bad, or if it was an accident, and what happened to them afterwards. Also, who saw the crime? For the kids who did something good, his response is “Now everybody likes him.” His focus was on the social aspect of the game.

Sneakily, it is functioning as math practice.

I watch Moomin considering whether to cheat or not, and mostly deciding not to. We had a conversation about how anyone could win a game of chance. A game of skill is more fun in some ways. Parcheesi mixes chance and skill, so you use your brain for strategy, but the dice rolls are random chance.

After 2 games that was enough for me. It’s really interesting for about 20 minutes and then I get cruelly bored if the kid doesn’t pick up concepts and skills with lightning speed. This is why I make a bad teacher. I can fake it for about another 20 minutes. Then, spacing out, irritability, wandering away, sneaking off to my blog.

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