Community Games Day
On the 31st of March, my school ran a Community Games Day. The vision for the day was to provide the students and families of the school an opportunity to play games, purchase games they liked, and also provide an opportunity for leadership and initiative among a selected group of students we called our Games Ambassadors.
Over the course of last year and early this year we worked hard building our school game collection to be large enough to run this event. Last year some of you may recall I wrote an article about our St. George’s Rd Games Day, and this year I wanted to expand on and grow the event to be larger, and also better.
Preparations for the day began late last year. We started off analysing our games collection, my goal was to have a collection that was usable by students across the school, as well as the families that would be coming. We needed to have short games and long games, familiar games and different games, games for very young children and games for older children and adults; in short we needed a diverse collection, which was also big enough that any particular cross section of the school could play in large numbers. We achieved this through obtaining sponsorship from companies overseas and in Australia, as well as by buying games with allocated funds, and with money we had won last year in an award we received for our games program.
Early this year I sent word out to the student body, requesting volunteers to act as what we had called Games Ambassadors. It is the Games Ambassadors who are responsible for making the Community Games Day a success. A key factor in the running of the day is the leadership, verve and initiative demonstrated by this group. For around 6 weeks they would come in to my classroom on a rotational basis at lunchtimes, to learn the games they would be teaching, and also to talk about how to teach them, and how to deal with potential issues. This responsibility is a wonderful opportunity for these students, as on the Community Games day they have the role of managing the games, which includes selecting appropriate games, teaching them, and dealing with any issues that may crop up.
The training of these students was a key factor in the planning and implementation of the Community Games day, and the students rose to the occasion, doing a wonderful job.
A week before the actual event we ran a special session for pre-school children, children from the ages of 3-4. We carefully selected games, and the Games Ambassadors had a good opportunity to practice what we had discussed about game selection, teaching, and conflict resolution. We had over 22 pre-school children in for the session, plus their teachers, aides and some parents.
Finally the 31st arrived - the actual Community Games day; much had been advertised through our school newsletter, word of mouth and even on the local radio, but even so we weren’t sure what the response would be. The first part of the day was for our school students, to this effect I had drawn up a schedule for all classes to come through in age-based groups, something that would make game selection a little easier over the day. Between 9.00am and 3.15 we had all the 360 students in our school come through to learn and play games. This section of the day ran magnificently, with Games Ambassadors working well, being accommodating, making good selections, and the students who attended behaved very well and listened attentively. At 3.30 the Community part of the Community Games day took place, we asked for a coin donation at the door (all monies made are fed back into the program), and we had also invited a game store to come along and sell games for those who were interested.
There are some significant differences between running an event for age grouped classes and an open event for children through to adults. The Games Ambassadors had to be at their very best with games selection, and also had to listen to what people were interested in and make judgement calls based off this information. We had a great turn-out for the night, and were consistently busy from 3.30 through to around 6.15. The Games Ambassadors again did a wonderful job of ensuring that everyone was involved and being assisted where required. We will certainly be making this an annual event, and already we have a large group of parents who see this as a great addition to what we offer as a school, both for our students and our broader community.
Our vision is to grow this event and make it a staple of our calendar year here at St. George’s Rd Primary School. We want to inspire and engage our students and make our school a central aspect of a school and town community. I have to say a huge thank you to the companies that sponsored us or gave us advice - Rio Grande Games and Out of the Box particularly for their wonderful support, but also to Australian stores like Mindgames Albury, Caterpillar Games and Games Paradise. Without this sort of support we wouldn’t have been able to run such an event.
If you are interested in running this sort of event in your school, I cannot recommend involving your students in the running and teaching of it enough, it is a wonderful opportunity for the school as a whole to connect in a social and fun event, but is also a rich learning experience for those involved in the management of it. Our Community Games Day was a fantastic success, and we are already looking forward to the next one!