Outdoor Board Games

Board Games.jpg

This game, a variation on shoots and ladders, took about ten minutes to set up. As the kids rambled and played freely, I set the stones in a winding path, adding a few sticks for bridges (ladders) and a coconut shell trap (lose a turn). As I did, the kids variously came up and asked what I was doing, then ran off. "I'm setting up a game," is all I said. "You'll see in a minute." When I called everyone together, they were excited. To minimize competitiveness, I made two teams - one using a small gnome I had carved from wood and another using a bird, also carved. Gnomes versus birds. The children took turns rolling the wooden dice we had made a few days before, counting the numbers and then advancing on the stones. As they neared the end, the anticipation grew excruciating. Both teams advanced to the finish amidst shouts and giggles, then we did it again. Each time, I told the kids they were welcome to play, or not. One child chose to be a snake that harassed, but didn't eat, any of the gnomes or birds that landed between two bones he set up near the end. After two games, which involved a fair amount of counting for four- to six-year-olds, I sensed that the kids had had enough of formal rules and I handed the game over to them, including the dice, the gnome, the bird and all the stones, sticks and coconut shells. A few girls ran off with the bird to make a nest. One made a home for the gnome in the coconut shell. Another rearranged the rocks into a spiral. The earth took back its materials, and we all disappeared.