Battleships & The Captain’s Boys – How Board Games can be a great way to impart Life Lessons.

Like the music he creates there is a beautiful symphony in all that he does. Father, musician, writer, maker and a fantastic mind, he reminds you of all that is good and pure in life. A curious and adventurous child Ragavan Manian, from Team Imagin8ors, explores and seeks new things with an infectious enthusiasm and zest. 

 

My two little boys Karun (8 years) and Sunaad (5 years) play board games, whenever they are, well, bored! There are a host of games to choose from, with their interest area ranging from Myth and Mythology to Mickey Mouse! But the one game that has found a lot of favour recently is Battleships.

According to Wikipedia, the Battleships board game has World War I origins, starting out as a paper and pencil game.

Picture courtesy Creative Commons/Wikipedia

Picture courtesy Creative Commons/Wikipedia

To me and a host of adults out there who grew up on a steady diet of Herge’s famous  characters, a more apt reference would be the Tintin comic, Flight 714. If you haven’t read the pages where the sullen, stingy and scruple-free multi-billionaire Carreidas repeatedly flummoxes Capt. Haddock, then you’re missing something hilarious!

But even as I enjoyed the comic and was intrigued by Battleships, I never got a chance to actually play the game, and it faded from my memory – that is, until it made a grand appearance in our household in the guise of my son’s birthday gift. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly both my little boys picked up this game. They are nearly three years apart, and in the early years, “three” represents a significant cognitive gap, separated by numerous cognitive milestones. Some examples:

Data source: www.understood.org

Their board games therefore tend to be divided into two neat piles. In line with his age and interests, the younger one prefers the motto of “have dice, will play”. He loves rolling the dice, driven by the sincere belief that he’s the “luckiest person in the family”. His cries of elation when he leads the board on the perennial family favourite “Snakes and Ladders”, or his shrieks of despair when he falls behind, have earned him the nickname of “Mr. Noisy” in our neighbourhood. The older one prefers intrigue (Scotland Yard, anyone?). He feels let down when “dumb luck” plays a significant part in a game, where he cannot ‘outsmart’ his opponent.

Like many great board games “Battleships” tends to straddle the space between luck and logic. Yes there is a good deal of chance in the game, but it also requires strategic thinking. Children delight in shouting out the words, “a miss!”, “a hit!” and “a sink!”. There is implicit confrontation in those words; however no actual violence is inflicted. The vessels on the board don’t even sink when they’re sunk – they just end up looking more dressed up! The power of their thought processes in affecting the opponent’s fleet is a revelation – almost like a spooky action-at-a-distance effect. Abstraction and Generalization – Computational Thinking concepts that even adults have difficulty wrapping their heads around, form part and parcel of this game. The moments of silence and strategic thinking add to its old-world charm.

Open Mic Imagin8ors

Above all, this game demands that the players be principled – a facet of the Collaboration, that we need in dollops in the global citizens of a brave new world, in a time when the planet is ridden by the damage done by the collective greed of the past generations. The temptation to gain strategic advantage surreptitiously (a.k.a. Through peeking!) was initially so strong in the children that, during the first few rounds I had to step in and act as the Captain of the boys, to enforce ground rules and stringent penalties against ‘cheating’. But eventually they understand that it is a lot more fun and engaging to follow the rules. A fair game of  Battleships seems to teach long-term lessons that stick in more ways than one.

Open Mic-imagin8ors

Carreidas in Flight 714 was driven by the desire to win the game of Battleships at all costs against his opponent, the poor, sincere Captain Haddock. This may have helped the former win the game, but in the end his guile was exposed and the Captain’s Boys won the day!

What board games rule your household? What life lessons have you been able to share through them? We would love to hear from you…

Get Nostalgic This Weekend

Weekend Wonders-imagin8ors

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

How about a spoonful of nostalgia this weekend? There is something for everyone – children, parents and

grandparents – at the third edition of Masak Masak at the National Museum. Get nostalgic

together as you explore six stunning installations which will remind you of the exciting

games of a bygone era. Discover engaging activities for the children put together by local

and international artists. Work with the artists to get a crash course in creating your own art

installation. For the art lovers, the students of School of the Arts and the National

University of Singapore Division of Industrial Design showcase some amazing artwork.

The games do not end here. How about designing your own board game? Or a bike? BIKES

4 FUN gives you an opportunity to build your own bike and ride it around the corner. The

event is on till 31 July 2016. So why wait till the last day? Head there now!

Weekend wonder-imagin8ors

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

Have radios intrigued you? How about a blast from the past this weekend? Head to the

National Museum with your children and learn a little more about radios as you explore their

“Celebrating Radio: Sounds from the Past” exhibit. Your child can be a radio DJ for the

day as he/she learns about the children radio shows of the past. The exhibit is for all maker

kids! Come and design a personalised vinyl record album cover or create a vintage radio

box. Take the 30-minute interactive tour with your child and learn a bit more about this

medium. Get a crash course in Singapore’s broadcasting history starting from 1930s in the

specially designed children’s activity area. The exhibit is on till 17 July 2016.

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

Images courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

 

June Open House

Imagin8ors Events

It’s the first Saturday of the month and Team Imagin8ors welcomes you to their monthly Open House. A space to spark imagination for children (ages 3-10) and parents, to tinker with technology, and indulge in some free unstructured play. Meet like-minded parents, make new friends, and swap views on the fascinating learning needs for today’s children! The experience is absolutely free only registration required.

Imagin8ors Events

 

This month, we have three exciting experiences for you to explore:

  1. MicroWorld

Using USB Microscopes capable of 200x magnification, your child enters a whole new world of micro objects, such as plants and animal cells! After taking the pictures your child will learn how to prepare slides. The snapshots of microscopic objects and life forms, will be then incorporated into Scratch™ animation. Their fantastic interpretations of the MicroWorld will fuel their imagination. So come to have a closer look at the micro-organisms and use coding to spin out some great stories!!

 

Imagin8ors Events

  1. Conductive PlayDough

Never heard of PlayDough conducting electricity before? Come to the Imagin8ors Open House and you can see it happen! Join us, use our recipes to create your own conductive Playdough, in your favourite colour! Light it up with LED lights, and get as far as you imagination takes you!

 

Imagin8ors Events

  1. Build Your Own Arcade!

Do you like playing Arcade Games? It sure will be fun to have one of our own. Why don’t you create one with us? Design the rules, build it with our wide array of fun and colourful materials, and play!

Imagin8ors Events

This is a community event and we would like to spread the joy of learning, a maker mind-set, and an appreciation for technology to as many people as possible! Join us in this cause and invite your friend to join too. It will be fun!

When: Saturday, June 4, 2016

1030am – 1230pm

Where: The Meeting Point @ JTC Launchpad,

73 Ayer Rajah Crescent

Near One-North mrt

Register Now!!!

All the World’s a Stage

All the worlds a stage

All the worlds a stage

Sailakshmi Deepak a friend with whom conversation never ends. Librarian, Blogger, Supermom, Maker and Commentator she is a multi-talented aficionado. Living in Dubai she is constantly looking for new experiences at the same time continuing old traditions. Her life is full of beautiful narratives woven around her two fantastic kids.

At 40, my thirst for knowledge has gone up multi-fold. I thought it was because of Google, and the fact that I had become a librarian with access to a barrage of non-fiction books. I was wrong; I realised it is because of my 10 and 7-year-old boys. There was an endless stream of questions coming my way, and the more I looked for answers the greedier for information they got. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them! So, I did.

Our favourite topic being religion, mythology, beliefs, etc., I grabbed a book called ‘Religions of the world’ from the children’s section and it became our bedtime ‘storybook’. I think l learnt more than I was trying to teach, and we had the most enriching discussions. Over the next two months, as we finished the book, we had all the information about the different religions; and am happy to let them decide what they want to grow up believing in.

Hinduism piqued their interest, probably because they can relate to it. They now wanted to delve deeper into Indian mythology. We started with the fairly simple Ramayana, and then moved on to the more complex but interesting Mahabharata. As I read to them, we enjoyed the way many stories were woven together to make this epic. We then moved to Gita for Children, which I did not particularly enjoy, but they were obsessed. With this phase done over another 6 months, I needed a break.

I wanted laughter before we went to bed. I was picking up Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss, but they did not want any of that. They wanted to soak in the heavy stuff. This time I was lost. We did not know what was going to be our next. The following morning when I was at the library, the first person who walked in, returned Marcia Williams’ comic strip book of Shakespeare Plays. Now, that was a sign.

It called out to me; I wanted to get into it and discover the Bard. So I took it home and within a week, my boys and I were hooked. We tasted, bit into, chewed and gobbled it; and in a fortnight I went back to the library and got another one from the series. We soaked ourselves into this one too.

I was now bringing home several versions of ‘Shakespeare for children’ and having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we could not read, we were playing quizzes, word games and 20 questions based on his works. It has been about 8 months, and we are still in love, maybe more than ever before.

In April we attended the Literature Festival which celebrated the Bard’s 400th death anniversary. Who had to be there in the author line up, having sessions on Shakespeare and signing her books? Marcia Williams. With more books signed by her, our bookshelves are bursting, and we have gone back to our favourite Much Ado about Nothing, Romeo & Juliet and Comedy of Errors.

What about you? What are you and your kids reading right now ????

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