Friday, August 13, 2010

Author Guest Post: Stories on Board! with Dianne de Las Casas

I grew up playing board games.

I love how board games not only bring people together in a spirit of fun competition, but they also allow people to spend time together, sharing both chagrin and laughter as the game pieces move around the board.

One day, as I was rewriting a favorite folktale, the idea hit me. I could combine my favorite folktales and my love of board games into a fun, educational method that encompasses reading, writing, math and social studies. Stories on Board! was born. On a chilly, windy day in February at Pensacola Beach, Florida, I was inspired and furiously typed out the method on my laptop, right on the beach!

Meinard Cruz from Scholastic Book Fairs Philippines has been a longtime client and now, friend. He asked me to come to the Philippines and give workshops to teachers there. I was delighted when he agreed to let me debut Stories on Board! with the teachers in the Philippines. The workshop was a smash hit. The teachers loved the technique and are now using the method with their students.

4th graders playing "Don't Get Trapped"
Here's how it works: students in one class are given a favorite folktale. As a class, we break down the story, analyzing the characters, the perils, and the triumphs of the story using my signature “storymapping” technique. Then the students are shown examples of various types of board games and match the perils and triumphs of the story with the perils and triumphs of a board game. The students are put into groups of 4-6 people, working as a team to create a game board for the story they were assigned. There is a lot of spacial planning, simple math, collaboration, cooperation, and communication during the creation phase of the board game. When the games are completed, they play! I use this method with grades 3 and up. With the lower grades (PK-2), they play a game that I create from a story.

I used the technique in a two-week residency at one of my favorite schools in Louisiana – Bissonet Plaza Elementary. The students loved the fun they were having creating the board games. The teachers loved how much instruction and learning was involved. Game Day was done during P.E. time and the P.E. teachers enjoyed it so much they asked to keep several of the student-created games to use on rainy days.

Mouseopoly, created by a team of 5th graders
I am amazed by the creativity and teamwork I witness when students create their board games using the Stories on Board! method. They have a sense of pride because they create their own game. Surprisingly, many of the students I work with have never even played a board game! It is a pleasure to see students laugh and encourage each other during the games.

Since then, I have taught this method in professional development workshops and in schools across the country. Thank you to the countless teachers and librarians who understand the educational value of board games.

Stories are… fun and games! Let’s play!
--Dianne de Las Casas

Click here for more information on Stories on Board!: Creating Board Games from Favorite Tales (Libraries Unlimited, 5/2010).

Dianne de Las Casas is an author and award-winning storyteller who tours internationally, presenting programs, educator/librarian training, workshops, and artist residencies. She is the author of many books, including the Libraries Unlimited titles Scared Silly: 25 Tales to Tickle and Thrill; Tangram Tales: Story Theater Using the Ancient Chinese Puzzle; Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take; and The Story Biz Handbook: How To Manage Your Storytelling Career from the Desk to the Stage.

No comments:

Post a Comment