A great way to involve a student in meaningful language is to work with them on designing their own board game. This really activates their language and ignites their creativity.
Step 1. Design your fantasy landscape
It's up to you what shape and size the landscape on the board will be.
Students particularly love naming the different towns/ cities/ environments. Learners can spend long periods of time engaged and completely focused on building their own imaginary landscapes in which the game will take place. These environments can elicit a huge amount of rich language from the students, for example the climate, what kind of animals and people live there, and some strange and interesting conflicts or historical events from the history of the landscape.
Step 2: Character design
Who are they players? Students can spend time designing their own character who will be in the game.
This character can choose three strengths from a list, that it could use and develop during game play. For example they could start with a number of points for strength, stamina and magic ability, which they can upgrade during the game, a little like a very simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons Role play gaming. These skills will help them or hinder them during the challenges later in the game.
Step 3: The Hero's Quest
What is the motivation for the game play, what are the players exploring when they embark on a mission to explore the new territory of the board?
Whether it be for riches, to find a lost friend, to prove one's worth, to find a new home, to solve a strange mystery, the players need a quest. You can make quest cards for the players to pick, if they need some inspiration for their journey. The quest cards might include things they must collect before they return to their home, such as coins, elixirs and magical weapons.
Step 4: Challenges
In order to collect coins, information, magic or useful tools, and ultimately complete their quest, the players need to have opportunities on the board to meet with challenges and overcome them.
We used Rory's story cubes on set designations within this game. When players visited these sites they would role the story cube of that site and either I or another player would come up with another challenge to complete in the story. These challenges can be as simple or as complicated as you like, provide they are reasonably achievable for the players, in order to keep up morale. They become sub-plots for the bigger story. They could include supporting role characters within the story who need help with completing tasks, such as finding the answer to a riddle, looking for something that is lost, selling or buying something, or fighting in a magical contest. Dice may be used to determine the outcome of a challenge, as there is luck involved in challenges as well as skill.
Step 5: Rewards
Players can either win rewards and gain things, or lose points/ money or skills. They can potentially make exchanges also, and this will help them to develop skills like negotiation and business savvy.
Step 6: Return home (Review new knowledge and skills)
Players eventually must return to the place they started in the game in order to finish. Once returned, they can complete a final quest, by bringing the new information they have discovered along the way. Once they have used their new skill/acquired knowledge once more, they can recap the story of their journey and review their travels and adventures.
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