Tag Archives: fluxx

Dear Labyrinth, I love you.

Newly returned from the VSTE (Virginia Society of Technology in Education) conference, I know I need to post about the amazing sessions I attended or about the two topics I nervously bumbled through in front of other educators. I know I need to email other teachers some things I mean to share.

And I will, I promise.

But right now, I want to use this space to promote one of my favorite places and some of my favorite things.

This past month, my work wife Lauren (@iteacherFlorida) and I have been just swamped.  The modular schedule is still a bit challenging and this year we are co teaching journalism.  We’ve spent the past four weeks pushing 16 girls of varying abilities and grades into journalistic writing and the software program InDesign.  It hasn’t been easy.  It’s a good day if I’m driving away from campus by five o’clock.

Lauren took off for Budapest this weekend.  I am a little jealous.  (I have e86a6dce542670b98be757d1a11777c9my own vacation around the corner, so no hard feelings.)  Luckily, I knew just the place to lift my tired spirits.  Lauren and I have a few favorite places that we are religiously devoted to and Labyrinth is at the top of that list. I think I’ve professed my love of games to any one who knows me, but if not: I LOVE GAMES.  Tabletop games in particular; I grew up with “family game night,” a night dedicated to Scrabble, Sorry, Trivial Pursuit, and the like.  My family visits toy stores not for toys, but for the games. (They want me to share that they have since found a local store to buy their new games- I even took my mom to Labyrinth her first visit to DC and now its a staple on her return list to DC.)

Labyrinth isn’t a toy store.  Well, not in the way we think of toy stores.  Instead, it is a carefully organized and crafted collection of some popular games, a lot of new games, and games you never knew you will love.  What’s more, they partner with local schools to build communities of play.  It’s not uncommon to visit the store and find a member of their staff hosting a school, running a birthday party, or (and this is my favorite reason to come) teaching literally ANYONE how to play a new game.  Labyrinth has a store copy of almost every item, allowing customers to play the game before taking home their own copy.

I usually do just that- open the store copy up and examine how the mechanics works.  This really helps me think about how game mechanics are so drastically different (I talked about this a bit at VSTE).  I am, however, spoiled by Kathleen, the most knowledgeable tabletop gamer I know.  And, she’s really nice!

When I popped in this Saturday, she had the two games for me- both 1213151319agames she recommended based on my previous purchases and what she knows about the types of games I and my students play (I cannot begin to tell you how on the mark she is about this or how incredible it is that she remembers her returning customers, both young and old).  Today I picked up Spyfall and Codenames, and couldn’t help but add Batman Fluxx and Holiday Fluxx (thank you Looney Labs!).

And then, just when things couldn’t get any better, Kathleen whips up  a creeper and a keeper for both editions of Fluxx and hands me a reject pack for Cards Against Humanity.

See? She gets me. Labyrinth gets me.

I love that place.

You should too.  They’re right off the Eastern Market Metro- walk past the CVS and you can’t miss it. And if you don’t live anywhere near DC, I’m sure there is a local game store in most areas.  Indy shop owners are very dedicated people and the customer service will be unbeatable.

I can’t wait to play Spyfall and Codenames.  I’ll post reviews, but I’ve got to first post about VSTE and then I’ve promised a Fluxx Basics tutorial for the classroom.

PS.  I taught my other half how to play Fluxx, and now he insists this be the way we settle any disagreement. Ever. (I might have created a Fluxx monster.)

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Filed under Casual sunday, Game review, My Places, Uncategorized

Andy Looney Beat Me in Fluxx

Andy Looney!!

Andy Looney!!

Sometimes, the best part of my job isn’t my job at all.  Sometimes, the best part of my job involves play.  This was completely the case on Sunday, when Andy Looney of Looney Labs came to play with us during Casual Sunday.

Now that statement may not quite mean anything or sink in yet.  If you are a Fluxx player, then start melting.  Andy Looney, inventor of the Mensa approved game, Fluxx, ventured out of Looney Labs with 6 different versions of Fluxx, 4 of which were not published on the market.

I’d like to claim that I’m just so cool even Andy Looney likes to play Fluxx with me, but I don’t think I’ll ever reach that level of epicness.  My students however, are awesome.  It was their epicness that made things happen.  Let me explain.

A big part of my teaching philosophy involves gaming in the classroom. I firmly believe that strategic gaming is a great platform to engage play and higher level critical thinking skills.  About two modules ago (we teach on a module schedule), I asked my American Drama Module to create an adaptation for A Streetcar Named Desire.  My only rules: it had to be an adaptation, which means certain plot devices had to remain and the story had to be mostly recognizable.  Beyond that, no guidelines, no project format, no detailed page long project description.  Oh, and there was a prize: best project won movie tickets and me as a chauffeur.  For a boarding school, this was “jackpot”.  (Apparently using article is now not considered hip.)  As nervous as I was about the outcomes of this “open ended project” format (ermergawd I’m going to get cardboard-put-together-last-minute-diaromas), the students were much more in stress mode.  IMG_2274

“Can you at least give us a list of project options?”

“Can you tell me if my idea is right?”

“What if I do it wrong?”

This is exactly why I think teaching creative play in the classroom is so important.  I will spare you a diatribe until a later post, but I will say this: we have programmed our students to believe that thinking outside the box is too risky.  It’s not worth the risk of getting a bad grade, it’s not worth the risk of being wrong.  We have programmed students to think that creative play is wrong.  And that is fundamentally the opposite of what learning and the classroom should do.

Every single group blew me away.  I had a fairy tale adaptation, a Teletubbies version, a fake documentary, and A Street Car Named Desire Fluxx.  While they didn’t win, I did tweet their version to Labyrinth Games in DC (best game shop ever).  I didn’t realize this at the time, but Kathleen at Labyrinth sees Andy Looney for Small Business Saturdays (yet another reason to love this place).  In passing through, I showed Kathleen pics of the version, and lo and behold, in about the time span of a week Andy Looney wanted to come play it.

It was awesome.

 

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Filed under Boarding school life, Casual sunday, Teaching Methods, Teaching Philosophy