Hi! This is Becky, one of the newest members of the Cache and Cookies blog team. Starting next week I’ll be bringing you the Calendar of Cool, which will detail something interesting, significant, or just plain cool from history or the modern day. This week, however, I wanted to talk about something that has existed for so long that it’s hard to pin its creation to any spot on the calendar at all: the board game.
Board games are a fun and sometimes challenging way to spend an afternoon – or a whole weekend, if you like! Many of us have been playing board games since we were very young, but don’t know much about their history, or how much they can teach us.
Monopoly might feel like it’s existed forever, but it was actually first sold in November of 1935. Contrary to what you might think, this game didn’t just teach you how to get into big fights with your siblings. It also gave you the opportunity to learn and practice how to count money. In fact, Monopoly’s focus on money once landed it in some hot water. During Vladimir Lenin’s rule of the communist Soviet Union, Monopoly was banned because it was thought to promote capitalist ideals!
The history of board games goes back much further than that, though. Nine Men’s Morris was a game similar to checkers that was brought to America by European colonists.
Board games aren’t just a phenomenon in Europe and America; during the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan, an intensely strategic game called Go was very popular, and was a crucial part of a samurai’s mental training.
This game requires clever planning to trap and capture your opponents’ pieces while you try to control as much of the playing board as possible. Go is easy to learn but difficult to master, and is still played all over the world today!
The ancient Egyptians played a game called Senet, which was a precursor to modern-day backgammon. The board is littered with traps and safe spaces that players must negotiate as they race their pieces around the board. Another popular game among the pharaohs was Dogs and Jackals.
Of course, not all games are ancient. Creating your own game is a great way to review materials in a classroom! Many teachers have uploaded their review games to Discovery Education, including Bingo-style games, spinner games, board games, Jeopardy-style quiz games, and more. Check out these teacher-contributed games for inspiration, and tweet us at @DESupportStars to let us know how you use games in your classroom!