Mostly sunny – a board game
The educational board game for children and adolescents, Mostly sunny (the tool), is emotion-themed and was created by students and expert associates as part of the eponymous public health project that is being implemented in the Split for 8 years.
THE GENERAL AIM of the project within which the game was created as a tool: the protection and promotion of mental health of children and adolescents.
Learning through play, learning by cooperation: 2 to 6 players can participate in the game at any time. The game is played with a coloured die, and with pieces which can be moved on the board by the players correctly answering the questions on the question cards (6 card decks – 6 colours). The game can take place in the class or in smaller groups by using only cards (without the board), and it doesn’t have to be competitive in nature. Another essential component of the game set is the instruction booklet. Furthermore, a version of the game is also available online (single player as well as multi-player): http://www.nzjz-split.hr/PreteznoVedro/, and for mobile phones (the mental health of children and adolescents app).
Detailed game instructions, together with answers, are contained in the booklet which is an essential component of the game set, and are also included in the online version of this tool. In addition to this, the players need a blank sheet of paper and a pencil to track points. The players move their pieces around the board, advancing towards the goal by successfully answering questions written on cards which the players draw and which are prepared beforehand. In this way they also gain points. Questions on the cards are related to emotions and relationships among peers. Apart from the questions, some cards contain inspirational quotes or wise sayings and messages, while some are of an associative character. The latter contain photographs, and the players are meant to express thoughts and emotions they inspire in them (here there are no correct or incorrect answers).
The game instructions are attached in pdf format.
One game set contains a (flexible) board, a booklet with instructions and answers, a single die, question cards and 6 game pieces. This means that the game can be played at any time by 2 to 6 players (children). The board is put on top of the table at which players are seated. If only question cards are being used in the game, it becomes possible for a larger number of children to participate, for example, a whole class. In the online version of the game (on the web portal) it is also 2 to 6 players that can participate, but the game can also be played by a single player. The online version of the game is available to a limitless number of users.
After the game had been released to the public and evaluated, the students of Primary School Meje in Split created a digital version of this game which is available online. The students of Primary School Žrnovnica were inspired by it to create their own version of the game in their school yard:
The students of Primary School Trilj, Regional School Košute, also created their version of the game in the school yard. Here is the link for the digital version of the game (tool): http://www.nzjz-split.hr/PreteznoVedro/. The game also became an essential part of the mental health of children and adolescents app:
The Mostly sunny game has also been implemented in in-school and interschool emotional literacy competitions for primary school students, grades 5 and 6. That is, it is being used as a tool in the aforementioned competitions. Up until now, two interschool competitions have taken place, and the third one is being planned (they take place on an annual basis). Video presentations of the competitions are available for viewing on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQsaCohsTzk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-2ksGj0v5E
772 male and female students, 5th to 8th grade, from 10 primary schools in the Split-Dalmatia County participated in the game evaluation. After they finished playing the game under the expert associate’s guidance, students could evaluate how much they liked learning with the help of a board game, and have they learned anything new about emotions. In the evaluation, 76% of students answered that they liked this way of learning through play. Furthermore, 78% of students thought that a board game is a good way to learn about emotions. 45% of participants declared that they learned something new by playing the game, while for 28.5% of students the playing of the game did not result in any new knowledge on emotions. The results indicate a significant difference in the subjective assessment of the acquired knowledge on emotions, in relation to the grade the students attended. 20,6% more students in the 5th grade think that, by playing the game, they learned something new about emotions, in comparison with students in the 8th grade. We also evaluated the interschool competition of students in emotional literacy which we are carrying out by the implementation of this tool (game). The school mentors who had been preparing the students for the competition and led teams, were asked to contribute their observations, criticisms and proposals in order to improve the emotional literacy competition. School mentors have been unanimous in reporting the interest, motivation and involvement of students in competition preparation, as well as during the competition itself, as high. The majority of mentors have, as part of their preparations, organised game matches in all 5th and 6th grades of their schools. The total number of students who were involved has gone over 1300. Mentors report that students were happy to participate, happy to stay after school for preparations and asked questions, volunteered ideas and comments. It was observed that preparations for the competition have also encouraged students to additional engagement, and some also prepared at home, while others searched on the internet for quizzes on the topic of violence among children, addictions and on other, similar topics. The experience gained from the project points to a need and possibility of including the game in prevention activities aimed at children and adolescents.
Concerning the motion for implementation of the game in class, under the guidance of a teacher: this form does not need to be competitive in nature.
The board and the pieces are not necessary. We are not looking for a winner, but fostering cooperation, work in smaller groups and development of presentation and performance skills. We should split the students in 6 smaller groups at the most, and then every group should pick the colour of the cards to be played with. The time to be allotted to the game is determined. In the meantime, every group should answer the questions on the cards they were given. After the time has run out, members of every group present their answers, read the messages from the cards, give associations and act before the whole class, following the instructions given on the cards. A discussion about the game (the answers and dilemmas) follows.
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