It seems like yesterday I sat down at the table with my grade partners with my crazy idea of building a huge cardboard arcade with our students. In our science structures and testing unit, some of our objectives involved students planning and building a structure. Since I’d watched the Caines arcade video a year before, I’d dreamed of having a giant cardboard arcade.(if you have not watched this video, you must!!!)
Both my grade partners were both hesitant but intrigued with the idea and after looking at all the positives that would come from this – hands on learning, problem solving, creative thinking plus we’d hit so many of our objectives in a real world, interesting way. They both agreed this was a great learning opportunity so we decided to give it a shot.
We started out bringing all the classes together to introduce the challenge. We showed them both Caines arcade videos and then challenged them to build arcade games of their own.
The students were excited right from the get go. I put some YouTube videos showing different games students across the globe had made to help jumpstart some ideas and many did research on their own. My room became a mess of cardboard, boxes, tubes for over a month. We lost our beautiful cozy corner for over a week so that arcade games that were in progress could have a safe space to stay.
Once we were finished, we skyped with another grade 3 class in our school district who had built cardboard arcade games of their own. The students had a chance to share their games and ask questions. My students had a chance to talk about how they had tried to meet these aspects of the challenge:
Was their game functional – could it be played?
Was their game sturdy – would it survive over 150 students playing it?
Was their game eye-catching – would it stand out of the 50 different games that would be in the gym?
Then finally came the big day. After planning, building, revamping, going back to the drawing board more than once for some, their games were ready to be played. All the grade three students brought their arcade games to the gym because we had invited all the primary classes to come down and play our games. The student’s job would be to explain their game to whoever came to play and then help the younger students play their game.
How did it go you wonder? The answer – amazing! Students came and played and had fun. Our students were excited to share their games – for me, the highlight was a boy in my grade partners class who I had up to this point never seen smile, was one of the most animated, happy kids I had seen. He talked to teachers, parents, was excited to share his game. That, for me, was what this day was about.
My take away from this is that it is totally worth it to take a risk. We had never done this before, there were no guarantees it would work but ultimately our students will remember this experience. During our reflection at the end of today, many students wrote in their agenda “Today was a fun day!” And for me, the journey was worth it for that reason alone.