Non-competitive games

We’re running our Peace Experiments program, in which we try to give kids a positive experience of peacefulness through activities like meditation, stories, conversation, songs, learning to ride unicycles — and this week we’ll be playing non-competitive games.

Actually the games are not precisely non-cometitive. They can be very competitive, there’s just not a clear binary distinction between winner(s) and loser(s). Our society tends to train us to perceive the world in terms of winners and losers. So what happens when you mess with that perception, by playing games where winning and losing are redefined? That’s what we’ll be experimenting with this week.

Below are 9 different tag games, all of which mess with the binary distinction between winners and losers.

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Games sampler

A bunch of games for you to play, as presented at Pot of Gold Religious Education Conference today.

What are games? Games are FUN. Games have AN OUTCOME. Games are SOCIAL.

Some types of games useful in UU groups:
— Icebreaker and name games: for whenever you have a newcomer
— Classic kid games: for any age, just to have fun
— Fantasy games: unleashing fantasy and creativity
— Active games: get up and get moving
— Simulation or teaching games: learning by doing
— Theatre games: awareness of self, awareness of others
— Energy breaks: very short activities designed to regulate the group’s energy level

Every game-playing group of which I’ve been a part — from Sunday school classes with little kids to adult groups — usually has one or two games that they love best, and the group can play that game over and over again. My goal with every group is to try a bunch of games until I find at least one game we want to play over and over again. Of course I want to play lots of different games, but if there are one or two favorites, then when all other plans fail, we all know that at least we can play our favorite game. The games below marked “Fave Game” been a favorite game of at least one group I’ve led or been a part of.

Please note that rules of games are mutable — you may know one or more of these games with slightly different rules. The rules given here are rules that I know work, but you should change and adapt them as you wish.

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Quaker Checkers

Back in 1985, the Unitarian Universalist Peace Network published a Sunday school curriculum called “Peace Experiments.” One of the things I liked best in this old curriculum was a board game called “Quaker Checkers.” It’s simple, fun, and challenging enough to be worth playing more than once. But I can find no reference to this game on the Web, except as a listing in a manuscript archive in the Swarthmore College library. Since the game explicitly states that it is not patented, and that’s it’s OK to copy and/or improve it, I decided to publish a PDF version here:

Click for a printable PDF.

OWL dollars

We’re running the Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education program for grades 7-9 here in the Palo Alto congregation, and today we did the second session, which includes an activity known as the “Values Auction,” where the youth bid on values like being honest, living a good life, etc. The curriculum suggests that you use play money from a board game such as Monopoly — but you also need $300 in play twenties, which is more money than most board games give you. So I made some OWL dollars.

Since I’m sure other people running the OWL program run into the same problem, I figured I’d post the OWL dollars online here as a PDF. You print out the whole sheet, then trim each OWL dollar to exactly 2 inches by four and a quarter inches (it goes really quickly using a paper cutter). Each sheet has ten OWL dollars, so you need one and a half sheets per participant. It’s a big file, so it may take a while to open.

Sheet of 10 “OWL dollars” (3.9 MB PDF file)