Monday, March 20, 2017

Hooking Them On Catan

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.
With school canceled due to the sand day yesterday, after school activities were also cancelled. Since we have this week and next week until Spring Break I was thinking that we had two more weeks of after school activities. I was wrong.

This is the last week of this session's activities, therefore my last meeting of Strategy Games isn't going to happen. I'm not sure that all the students have figured this out yet. I am certain that when they do I will start receiving petitions to offer it again next round.

There is still plenty of grit in the air. (In fact some schools were out today as well.) When the wind picked up in the afternoon we had indoor recess. Some of the kids of Strategy Games asked if I would get out Settlers of Catan.

I started Strategy Games as a way for some kids to interact with peers after school, lured in by the offer of allowing Pokeman cards. My goal was to remove 90 minutes of potential screen time once a week. It worked, there was a waiting list nearly as soon as registration opened.

After two weeks most of them were ready for things other than Pokemon. From the beginning things like Chess, Backgammon, and Scrabble were available. On week three I offered to teach some kids how to play Settlers of Catan

If you don't know the game, Catan is a multi-player, strategy board game. It is not simple and a game takes at least an hour to play. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to hook the kids, but I played up that it was challenging and that you would have to pay attention and stick with it AND that only four people could play. Of course scarcity makes something popular and we used a random number generator to choose of those interested. I let two one of the youngest kids team with an older kid, which included one more player. I also agreed to act as 'the banker'. This gave me a role at table (though they chose to play on the floor) and set up a role for an additional person on subsequent weeks.

We were only about twenty minutes in when all the kids playing, and all the kids who were hoping for a turn the next time, were convinced that it was the best thing since - whatever it is that ten and eleven year olds think is the best thing at the time.

Happy to hook a bunch of kids into a great game. By the way, the answer was ,"With only ten minutes?!" to the kids who asked during inside recess. I walked away smiling as I heard other kids ask, "What's Settlers of Catan?"


  1. I love this game! Many a great evening has been spent (and sometimes some great arguments as well..) playing Catan around my kitchen table. What a great idea to offer a board game club to get kids critically thinking AND interacting with their peers :)

  2. Good for you for starting this! And you were very clever as to how you got them hooked. I liked how you looked at the large gain of 90 minutes less of screen time a week.

  3. I just played Catan for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I'm hooked! This summer I'm going to add it to my games that I bring with me overseas (along with NERTS, Phase 10, and Cards Against Humanity). Great idea of using it as an after school activity!

    -Amanda at