Hasbro and Mensa for Kids have teamed up to take some longtime family favorite board games and turn them into learning tools. Anyone who has read Engaged Family Gaming for a long time knows that we strongly feel that every game has educational value when used correctly, but this partnership takes that belief and puts it into practice.
This partnership takes four games (MouseTrap, Perfection, Cranium Sculpt-it, and Downspin), repackages them, and uses them in Mensa designed lesson plans that are available for free download on the MENSA for Kids website.
MouseTrap is a game that is well known for its Rube-Goldberg style mouse trap that covers almost the entire game board. The game has been relaunched with some brighter game pieces, and what feels (to us at least) like more sturdy pieces for the trap itself than in recent versions, but with no other real gameplay changes.
Mensa has crafted a lesson plan for early elementary school students to talk about force and energy. This takes Mouse Trap from a fun little afternoon diversion into a legitimate lesson in a fundamental concept in physical science.
Perfection is an infuriating game to play if you are easily distracted. It is incredibly difficult to complete, but it can be impossible if there is anything taking your attention away from it. Mind you, that’s part of the challenge and the charm of the game. If it were easy, then it would just be a toddler’s shape sorter.
Mensa has crafted a lesson plan for Upper elementary school students that uses Perfection as an object lesson about the importance of focus. In the lesson, they encourage the teacher (or homeschooling parent) to show a clip- of a busy workplace and talk about some of the details in that video that the students missed. (If those kids are anything like me they’ll probably have missed a lot of them.) This gives an opportunity to talk about the importance of Focus in the workplace or in school.
Cranium Sculpt-it is run of the mill guessing game. Players use the included Play-doh to create the object on a hidden card and other players try to guess it. This is a fun game to play as a family. It’s especially true if you have kids who love to create things out of clay as opposed to playing with words or drawing.
Mensa obviously saw something a bit deeper. They used the game as a component in a lesson plan for teaching middle schoolers about the Johari Window (a thought exercise about self-awareness).
Downspin is a neat game. It involves turning gears using a key and trying to move marbles down a track. We love the components and had a lot of fun just getting the game set up. We had even more fun playing it!
I had a feeling that this was going to be a great learning tool, but I had assumed it would have been about a STEM topic. I suppose that’s just the direction that my mind goes when looking at something like gears. Needless to say, Mensa is a bit better at creating lesson plans than I am. They actually found a way to integrate the game into a lesson for high school age students about understanding cause and effect in history!
What do you think? Are these lesson plans that you’ll be using? Sound off in the comments!