Move Over Monopoly—Catan in the Classroom

- by Jeremiah image from BGG user kilroy_locke

For years, math, stats, and economics teachers have been trotting out the Monopoly board in their classrooms to help give students some hands-on, applicable life lessons. While the game is horrible, the idea is sound. From the get-go, gaming with my children has been chock full of teachable moments; at their current ages those lessons have been more about sportsmanship, being gracious while winning or losing, and learning to operate within the rules (or NOT cheating). As they grow older you can bet the lessons at the game table will grow with them.

A middle-school history teacher in Franklin, MA, has gone Euro with this concept in his classes. Teaching the struggles of early civilizations, and the conflict that can arise over scarce resources through The Settlers of Catan. A recent article in a local paper featuring the teacher and his students has caught the attention of Mayfair Games, and has gained some traction across the gaming community.

From the article:

“We can’t bring them back to Mesopotamia, Egypt or Greece, but this (Catan) brings it alive,” Brady said. “One student was so frustrated because he was winning at one point, and the other kids froze him out and wouldn’t trade with him. He said flat out, ‘I now understand why people go to war.’ ”

This is yet another step in not only promoting a great hobby, but also in breaking new ground in teaching future generations. So let's have a discussion here about it! What games do you think should end up in the classroom? and Why? We would LOVE to hear your thoughts. And who just might inspire someone to break new ground in their classroom, too!

Thanks for reading, and leave your suggestions in the comments!

Monopoly Jr. - Bad Grandma!

By Jeremiah I should preface this post with a short disclaimer. Disclaimer is as follows: My children have 6 grandparents, all of whom are retired and love them very much. None of them are bad; it's just a goofy title for a blog post. Please don't take the following post personally; thank you for loving my boys and getting them games!!

That being said...I recently had the extreme pleasure of discovering that Monopoly Jr. is as equally unenjoyable as its grown-up counterpart.

A grandmother who will go unnamed recently introduced the game to my boys and sent it home with them so we could enjoy it as a family. This was a very kind gesture, and well meaning. I had the opportunity to sit down with my sons and play this afternoon. Much like the adult version you are pretty much playing a game of chance (I often wonder why casinos don't have Monopoly tables in them), and I knew by the first time around the board I was going to lose. And sure enough...I lost. Mercifully, though, the junior version of the game plays in a much shorter time than the marathon style of the grown-up version.

My boys are gamers, yet they don't have the refined taste that years of gaming gives you, so they still enjoy Monopoly Jr.—or Bonoplewee as my youngest calls it.

You'll excuse me now, but I have to go bust out Castle Panic!