In an era of digital games and high tech everything, is there space for traditional card games? You know the kind I’m talking about—a simple deck of 52 cards that can be used to play a variety of games such as War, Go Fish, or Hearts. Or a card game like GeoPlunge that builds knowledge of U.S. Geography through fast-paced action where learning just happens. Even though today’s focus is on high tech solutions for just about everything, there are some important advantages and life lessons to playing a simple card game.
What? Communicate? In PERSON? There are certainly ways to interact with others through online gaming, but when you play a card game around a table or on the floor, there is a human element that just isn’t available on the internet. Players must actually interact with other humans–face-to face. They begin to articulate their problems, ideas, opinions and solutions while at the same time negotiating and persuading their teammates until they reach consensus. They also begin to develop non-verbal ways of communicating by looking their teammates and opponents in the eyes, using facial expressions, and body language. Finally, playing a game such as GeoPlunge engages players in empathic listening. Players must “hear out” their teammates, yet make quick decisions. There is no hiding behind a screen or the anonymity of a device. That is a good thing!
The only way to play a card game is to learn how to take turns and follow rules. It is good to learn that sometimes you might have to wait for something or someone, or the luck of the draw may not go your way. As with digital games, there are winners and losers. But there is a difference when playing in person; you must learn how to control your emotions when you lose because your opponent is staring you in the face. You can’t just shut down the computer and walk away; you learn how to shake hands and congratulate your opponent for their brilliant strategy and humbly accept defeat after a hard fought game.
In team games such as GeoPlunge, teamwork is essential. Players not only learn how to communicate, but they begin to build relationships with their teammates by learning each other’s strengths and areas of development. There is nothing like a team that uses the individual talents to create a stronger whole. The community is enhanced through the excitement and energy of tournament play.
The entry cost to playing a card game is minimal–less than $20. There is no need for high speed internet or the latest and greatest device. It can even be played by the light of a fire during a winter snow storm or on a picnic table during the summer! Playing card games is sustainable–all it takes is a little human power.
Game-based learning is an easy way to bring learning and excitement into the classroom. However, don’t push aside “old fashioned” card games and learning activities because you think they don’t have enough bling or excitement to draw students in and keep them engaged. GeoPlunge has a proven track record of engaging Title I elementary students through high school AP students. Blend low tech activities into your lessons and see the magic unfold.
Barb Bailey is the Director of Learning at LearningPlunge, Inc. She has a Master of Education degree and 15 years of teaching experience. Barb is committed to providing high quality educational resources for all children. Reach out to her at Bailey@learningplunge.org.