Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Role-play: Through the eyes of the child

Why do educators love games?
Games provide authentic experiences that reinforce learning. 
Oh, and they are a heck of a lot of FUN!

Meet Holly Booth, a Girl Guide from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and a gamer. I first met Holly at the Lesson Plans and Ideas seminar during Gen Con's Trade Day. Trade Day is a day set aside for retailers and educators to get together to share their experiences with games and to learn new and exciting ways of using them. After the first few minutes talking with Holly it became crystal clear that she had a passion for teaching kids to play games. Her most recent experience was with her brownie troop running, of all things, a D&D campaign. While the others played hide-and-seek, they were playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Camp is all about getting creative and learning new skills. Heroes of Hesoid, a D&D adventure for kids 6 years and older, was a new form of creativity. From the start, the kids were hooked and she found herself amazed at the results. “The quiet ones always picked the rogues.” she explained with a wide smile. She was astonished at how the girls seemed to blossom and take charge of their roles. “I was thinking to myself, you haven't said a word all week, but you just fried that entire hoard of pixies!” In fact, Ella, a very shy 7 year old in the group, got so into her role that she proclaimed “Can I do my sneak attack now?” 

It is plain to see that games allow us to break out of our shells and experience the world in new and wonderful ways. Role-playing, in particular, give us the opportunity to step into someone else's shoes and try things we might not normally attempt. Cooperation, leadership skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving are just a few of the wonderful skills kids can gain through role-play. Make believe is a natural part of childhood, and dungeons and dragons as well as other role-playing experiences are the perfect vehicle to foster that type of play.

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