I am in charge of the “board game” section of the camp. My students were the first participants in my activity this week, so I tried to be ambitious and have them making a game in teams, then play it. Usually I play micropul, but the rules for that game were a little complex and these students aren’t up for that level of complexity. I went for a simpler set of rules, but a more difficult construction this time by trying to play Snake Pit with them.

Snake Pit is played with color tiles with different combinations of snake heads, bodies, and tails. You need to connect a head to a tail to score, and the farther the head and tail are contiguously connected from one another, the more points you get. The different tiles have twisted color combinations of snakes, and you need to think strategically to place and draw cards to put you in a position to finish off your opponents plays to score points, or to block their moves to prevent them from scoring. The game play is easily understood, but a high quality construction project was out of our reach.

The problem with Snake Pit was that the files suggested making tiles, and gluing the two papers together with a thicker bit of Styrofoam board between them ended up being a disaster. It was far too difficult to get the papers perfectly lined up, and gluing them individually was too hard for my students to do. We didn’t have much luck with the supplies we had, and we made a giant mess. We ended up with two completed sets, and two and a half poorly made sets that we scavenged from to make three games total.

We ended up making the games for a far longer time than I anticipated, and the students only got to play a few rounds before they had to go home. They instantly understood the rules, so it was better than micropul, but making the tiles was a waste of time. Next time, I should just double side the color copies and have them play with those papers instead and skip the “tile” aspect entirely. That way we won’t need to use glue, just cut out the pictures and go, and the students could each get their own copy to bring home that way. I wish I had thought of that before I wasted all that time trying to make a game worth giving to the students as gifts to take home and play at their house.

Lesson learned this week. The game was fun, and easy to teach, and didn’t require supervision after I helped them learn the rules, so I might try it again with the lower levels. It was a mess to clean up, but the students did have fun.