As promised, here is how to make a history board game to reinforce learning. This board game is themed on the Trojan War and goes along with the fun week we had studying the Trojan War. Here is a photo of our final piece:
The children and I had discussed our ideas and we all knew vaguely what it was we were aiming for.
How to Make a History Board Game
Creating a list of Questions
Firstly, the children looked through their folders and all their work on Ancient Greece and came up with 20 questions each, with the answer next to it. That would give us 60 question cards to be going on with. In retrospect we need many more, but I will add to it whenever I have the time. The purpose of the questions is to revise and remind the children of all they have learnt. And to do it in a fun way.
Creating the Base Board
I used a photography framing card because of its thickness. We looked for a picture of how the city of Troy was thought to look, enlarged it to A3 size and had it laminated. I stuck the laminated version on some black, stiffened card using super glue (lethal stuff). Using little white labels we made a pathway for the metal soldier playing pieces to travel along; I numbered them using a permanent marker ensuring that there were a few detours the pieces could take:
At the end of the little numbered stickers, we placed a large white label. This was for the metal soldier playing pieces to sit and wait until their owner had thrown a six. At an angle we placed another large, white label for the Trojan horse to sit during the game.
Creating the Main Feature
Next, we needed to make our Trojan Horse.
Primarily I wanted a game which would reinforce the children’s knowledge of Ancient Greece. I wanted it to be based around the Trojan war, as that was our chosen topic this week, and I wanted it to be simple to play and visually pleasant.
Thomas and I had chatted about an idea to have a Trojan horse into which we placed soldiers throughout the game. The winner would then tip up the horse at the end of the game, setting the soldiers free and signalling Troy’s imminent defeat.
In order for this game plan to work I needed to make sure I could create a solid horse. I knew it needed to be stable, hollow with a hole at the top and a larger hole for emptying the soldiers out. I used tape, card, wooden sticks and super glue. (Note to self – super glue does what it says on the pack. It sticks things together. In seconds. And that includes your fingers. And your tongue, should you be stupid enough to try to unstick your fingers using said tongue. Yes really. I had to run my mouth and fingers – from two different hands – under a warm tap with a load of soap. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been me!)
Yes, I know, it’s not very very horse like, is it?!
Well, I kept at it….
Filling it Out
I covered the ‘horse’ in plaster cast and attempted to shape it into an equine shape. I finished the horse ensuring I left a space to pop the counters in and enough room for the counters to come sliding out once the horse is tipped by the winner. You can’t see it, but the counters come out of the horse’s mouth once tipped. That’s why it is so large 😉
My Duck-Billed Platypus
Yes, I know… My children said its head belonged on a duck-billed platypus! I replied that at least mine had legs unlike a horse made by somebody in the room, who was laughing her head off! (see here for Charlotte’s legless horse). However, even I had to admit that my horse anatomy could do with a little improvement and I silently sent up prayers to thank God yet again that he didn’t make me a perfectionist. There’s joy to be found in duck-billed horses, you know!
If I can just make an excuse? I needed to make a head large enough for the counters to come out of at the end of the game. The neck also needed to be long enough and at not too sharp an angle to prevent the counters from getting stuck in a clump. The duck-billed look was the result!
The final board game:
The Rules of the History Board Game
The children and I decided on the rules. They wanted a very convoluted rule book but instead I encouraged them to keep it simple as it was our first board game. Here are the game rules:
- The youngest player throws the dice.
- They place the amount shown on the dice of counter soldiers into the Trojan horse.
- They pick up one of the question cards. If they answer the question correctly they move forward the number of spaces shown on their dice. If they answer incorrectly they stay where they are until their turn comes round again.
- The person on their right throws the dice and play continues thus, filling up the Trojan horse as the game progresses.
- If a player lands on a number preceding the arrows (three possible places on the board) they may move their piece to the number directly after the arrow, missing out the numbers in between. This introduces an element of luck to the game and makes it more exciting (or so I’m told).
- The players play until they reach the siege area. They maintain their siege position until they throw a six, thereby introducing chance once more to the game.
- The winner is the first player to reach the siege area and throw a six. This player may then tip the horse in the general direction of Troy, setting the soldier counters free, to defeat the City!
So there you have it – our first attempt at making a board game. We really enjoyed the process. Even if it hadn’t worked, or the horse had been a disaster (which, I admit, was a near thing), it was still worth attempting and I think we would do something similar again. Next time I would make up the question cards. The children knew ALL the answers!