Saturday, January 27, 2007

hedge harvest game

This game was a real find -- Jacob's Aunt found it for him, despite the fact that she has no training in RDI whatsoever. But she couldn't have made a better RDI choice! The game is the Over the Hedge Hedge Harvest game, put out by Sababa Games (yeah, I never heard of them either) and Dreamworks Productions. It is labeled for ages 5 and up, although Zoo Boy seems to have no trouble playing it at nearly 4 years.

Unlike standard board games, where players move along a track towards an end goal (which in and of itself can be good for productive uncertainty -- who knows what that roll of the die or spin of the spinner will bring), this game has several interconnected loops of track, and with each turn the player has several choices as to which way to move his player. The goal is to collect one each of 7 different food tokens, which can be received by landing on a food item space, or as a result of a lucky draw of a "treasure trove" card, which are drawn when landing on numerous "treasure trove" spaces.

Let me tell you all the ways this benefits Jacob's RDI program. You might be surprised!

1. There are many opportunities for Stage 1 (emotion sharing) and Stage 2 (referncing) skills to be practiced via playing with other family members (and, eventually we anticipate, friends). This is true of any game.

2. As with many games, the players take turns -- Jacob has to both wait for his turn before playing and pay enough attention to the game at large to know when it's his turn (good Stage 6 co-regulation work).

3. Productive uncertainty in massive doses -- you roll the die when it's your turn, so you never know which number you're going to roll. And then when you land on a "treasure trove" space and select a card, you don't know what it might say. Some are good, some are bad, some provide more chances for productive uncertainty by making you move a certain number of spaces in a certain direction (where will you land?) or by having to roll the die and try to get a certain number in order to win a food token. This is the part of the game that Jacob likes the best -- the uncertainty of what might be in the "treasure trove". (My gosh, we've come a long way with our remediation program, for me to say that the uncertainty is the best part for him!!)

4. Appraisal work -- this is the best board game I've come across so far for working on Appraisal. When you roll the die, you have to examine (count out) all the possible results from moving in each direction, then make a decision based on all the possibilities as to which is the best move to make. So not only are there choices to be made, but also consequences for making those choices (depending on where you land). Sometimes it's an obvious/easy choice (a lose a turn space in one direction, a food token in the other), but most of the time the choices are more subtle (a blank space in either direction, but getting closer to different food tokens in each direction). Even those treasure trove cards provide a chance for using appraisal to assess the situation -- if you are told you can select any food token, you need to decide which one -- will it be the one furthest from your "home" (sometimes you are sent back to your home, so it's often easy to get the closest token), or the one furthest from where you are now, or the one that isn't on the same path as the rest of the ones you need? Sometimes you're told to give or take a food token from another player, so you have to decide which one will be easier for you to get again, or which one will be hardest for the other player to get.

5. General uncertainty of when the game will end. This game can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours to play, all depending on the luck of the draw of those treasure trove cards. Sometimes it just goes on for so long that you all have to decide on a "good enough" stopping point, and whoever has the most food tokens wins. More great RDI work!

We do a lot of spotlighting of appraisal with this game, and we scaffold it so that Jacob can more easily "see" and understand his choices. Sometimes he chooses poorly (deciding to draw a treasure trove card -- where he winds up losing a token this time -- instead of landing on a token space and assuring himself of a token), and we spotlight the consequence of making that choice. This works on one of our Stage 7 RDI objectives: "Connect decisions with their consequences". We also demonstrate another objective, "Practice self narration and self evaluation of current actions" by talking our way through our own thought processes as we play, and then narrating his choices for him as we walk him through the appraisal process after his roll of the die. We'll know we're having success when he starts saying things like "I'm going to go this way, because then I'll get a treasure trove card". We're not there yet. But we will be someday soon!

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