This week, I returned to the Lift Afterschool Program to teach another game to the students. You haven’t experienced true high energy joy and organized chaos until you teach a game to thirty 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students and their leaders. I was both exhausted and energized once I was done.
Lift is a local, non-profit project designed to help selected Eastbrook students reach their full academic potential. It is a Christ-centered afterschool program that emphasizes Academic Achievement, Whole Person Growth, and Spiritual Nurture.
My first time working with Lift I taught Pirate Dice and Animal Upon Animal Crest Climbers. My second time (which I sadly failed to blog about), I taught Rhino Hero. After those three successful game times with the students, Colleen Yordy (one of the Lift team leaders) has remained in contact, asking me to return each year. Because of holidays, illnesses, and crazy scheduling conflicts, this game time took a while to get scheduled. I am so glad we finally got the day scheduled and I got to be with the students because I had found a great game I wanted to teach. While searching for a game to use this year, I read about Garbage Day. Taking out the garbage was a great theme that kids would understand. The trash can would get their attention. And the big plus, it is was a dexterity game, which is a great activity for these younger students. I reached out to Mayday Games to purchase a set of the games for me to donate to Lift. When I mentioned I wanted to purchase these for an afterschool program, I was quickly put in touch with Ryan Bruns (President of Mayday Games). He was so impressed with the program that he donated six copies of the game to Lift for me to teach! The Lift leadership and I are SO thankful to Ryan for his generosity.
Garbage Day worked wonderfully with these students, being both a fun time and a learning experience (balance, dexterity, patience, addition, strategy, sportsmanship). I started out just teaching how to place the cards, and we played a few rounds like that (more like Jenga rules where if a card falls, you are out). Then we played a couple rounds using the basic rules. We didn’t get into the more advanced rules this time, but the team leaders are going to read the rules and in the coming weeks start adding in the full rules with the older kids. My last comment to the students, “Please don’t tell your parents I gave you permission to stack things on your trash can at home.”
If you like gaming, students, and teaching, then I highly recommend seeking out an opportunity to work with an afterschool program and offer to teach games to their students. Yet again, it was such an amazing experience sharing our hobby with the students, interacting with them, and feeling their energy. I come away from each game time energized and look forward to returning to Lift to play more games with the students. But, understand working with younger students is not for everyone and it is challenging. You have to enjoy being with the younger students, be willing to be very patient and flexible as you teach the games, and open to finding games appropriate for the students’ age and abilities. This is not a time for you to play games yourself. This is a time for you to be the teacher, understanding your students, and sharing your passion.
Have you utilized your passion for gaming or your freelancing experience with any afterschool programs? If so, please share? I would love to hear your stories and learn from them.