During the lockdowns in 2021 we partnered with People’s Meeples (a community organisation we’re closely associated with), and provided over 100 literacy boxes with games and resources to families. We chose four games that supported particular aspects of reading and comprehension: Just One, Braggart, Dice Academy, and Story Cubes.
Everyone with a box gets a booklet explaining why we chose the games with some ideas for how to get the best out of them, and an invitation to a ‘virtual parents evening’ where we will teach the games and explain why they’re going to help their kids with literacy.
We provided the games for People’s Meeples to distribute, pupils at Stranton Academy, Eskdale Academy, Jesmond Gardens, Catcote Academy, Throston and Rossmere all benefited from them. The funding came from: donations from Gamers@Hart customers, Tees Valley Community Foundation, Thirteen, and the Hadrian Trust.
Why those games?
We explain this more in our parents’ evenings, but in short:
- Braggart has lots of different vocabulary for children to read, it’s full of figurative language and idioms, and it has a sense of humour that we find keeps children engaged.
- Dice Academy encourages the speedy recall of words, and introduces children to new vocabulary that other people around the table are using.
- Just One introduces the same word from multiple different perspectives, helping to develop a fuller understanding of key vocabulary
- Story Cubes, when combined with our special card based on Braggart, provides a different way to understand how stories can be structured, that will improve their comprehension of other narratives.
What’s the theory behind this?
If you’re knowledgeable about games you might have noticed that, from out list, only Braggart involves much reading. So how will this help with literacy? We’ll explain this in more depth at the parents evenings, but there are lots of things that predict whether someone will be a strong reader as they grow. One key thing is vocabulary and understanding spoken words. Schools are exceptionally good at helping children learn how to turn the words on a page into sounds, so we’re deliberately focussing on helping children to understand what they read.
Our backgrounds are in research and teaching, with a particular interest in reading, with Peter working on a reading intervention project, which helped us find the perfect games.
Did the games have the intended impact?
People’s Meeples ran a survey with families who received these literacy bundles and had 18 repsonses.
They found that every family were playing the games at least once per week, and they all believed they were impacting their child’s literacy.
Of course, from this alone it’s difficult to know whether they really have had an impact on literacy, however if parents felt that there was no relationship with their child’s development they may have responded ‘don’t know’ – we can therefore be cautiously optimistic that these games were used, and were effective.