Board games can be a fantastic educational tool. They can teach ideas in ways that are immersive and fun, and can help children improve their social skills in a safe environment. In the case of Ultimate Werewolf, it can even help you learn more about the players themselves!
Mackenzie Hoffman is a board game enthusiast who loves bringing her hobby into the classroom, and one of the games she used to kick off this school year was Ultimate Werewolf. At first glance it might not seem that a game centred around bluffing and deceit has a place in a lesson plan, but for Mackenzie it’s an invaluable part of getting to know her students.
This article was originally published by Mackenzie Hoffman on Meeple Street, and is reposted with her permission.
I am an educator who loves using board games in the classroom. Each year I start off the first few days of school with board games. This acts as a hook for my class for the year, but also provides me with valuable information about my students. This year I am only using one official game, but I also intend to use multiple escape rooms. While escape rooms aren’t technically a game, they still hit many of the same skills that games do with critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving.
The other game I intend to use this year is Ultimate Werewolf. Now many of you may be wondering what on Earth I could learn from having my students play Ultimate Werewolf. However, I love this game as an entry into the classroom. The students enjoy the engagement and the challenge of winning. It creates a classroom bond. However the information it gives me is much more valuable.
Werewolf forces interaction between students, and as a moderator I am able to sit back and watch the students interact. With a couple rounds of Werewolf, I am able to see patterns within the classroom that a normal classroom environment would not show me. For instance, with Werewolf I can quickly realize which students are not going to be good at following verbal directions like close your eyes and tap your leg with one hand. Additionally it teaches me a lot about the social order of the classroom. Who will be the leaders in discussion? Who are followers? Who likes to be the class clown? Who likes to critically think about situations? Even more importantly though, Werewolf gives me an opportunity to see if the class automatically gangs up on any other student. This gives me the chance to know if there is a student I need to watch for being bullied in a way that no other activity I have found does.
While Werewolf may not be the most in depth learning experience without significant discussion before and after for my students, the data I gain during the game gives me a quick head start into the school year. I have also found that my students love the game and ask to play it as a brain break through out the year. It is fascinating to see how their strategy and depth of play style changes throughout the year with instruction and conversations about the game. I am looking forward to introducing it with my new students on Tuesday!
A huge thank you to Mackenzie Hoffman for giving us permission to share her article here! If you’d like to read more about how she uses tabletop games in the classroom, head on over to her website Meeple Street (and give her a follow on social media).
Have you ever used board games as a teaching tool? Let us know in the comments!