Emily's vacation assignment was to make a board game she could play with her class in some kind of GameFest. Making the game wasn't a mandatory thing, said the teacher's note - more of "an extra challenge" if the kids wanted to do it. When I raised my eyebrow at the likelihood of 7-year-olds independently designing and executing a workable (the keyword here being "workable") board game, Emily assured me that parents were allowed to help and asked me, therefore, to pleeeeeeeeeeaaaase help. So we spent the day making it and everyone helped.
She designed her game based on the many board games she'd seen and played. My job was to steer her ideas towards functional elements and perform all the dangerous stunts required to render them in cardboard.
If your kids are at the age when they enjoy board games, it might be fun to make your own. So we documented our process to provide a crude formula for designing a workable board game. All you need to do is pick a theme and change the details to fit that theme. Enjoy!
First, we had to find a box. It was more difficult than you'd imagine, finding the right-sized box.
Next we had to name it:
and devise a way to fasten it.
For these, we used these round blue Makedo fasteners. The folks at Makedo replenished last year's supply with a fresh batch with newly-improved parts!
The saws and fasteners are the same, but the old hinges (which used to only lock or click into different angles) now swing free and also click into different angles. This opens up new possibilities for gates and doors and all sorts of free-moving stuff.
Moving along now, the next thing we made was a spinner.
Note the little cardboard washer in the left picture below - it allows the spinning arrow to move freely without touching the dial surface - this is essential for awesome spinning. The picture on the right shows the reason we needed the cardboard collar - the protruding end of the fastener. Turns out that this design improved the stability of the entire spinner - it doesn't need to be held down when spun. Bonus!
Obviously, if you don't have Makedo parts, you can use paper fasteners or a bolt and nut.
After this, we made the board. Ours folded twice into quarters. It was made of two identical rectangles, taped halfway together so that half of that seam splits open to allow folding. We glued white paper on the top surface because white is nicer to draw on than brown.
With those basic elements - box, board, spinner - we were ready to add details to give the game a theme.
Emily picked a school theme (no surprises there), so the object of the game was to collect school supplies and "get to" school. Emily furnished all the details and I simply followed her instructions and drew, cut and glued accordingly.
First we made the school supplies - we drew, colored and laminated four each of these:
Then we made cardboard school bags ("two backpacks and two messenger bags, Mom"). We drew an extra one for Kate to color and keep.
Each player has one of these to collect school supplies in.
(and yes, that's Jenna dressed as a mermaid).
The girls are all trained to color on pieces of cardboard (on the carpet) or newspaper (on tables), especially if they are using permanent markers. Jenna sometimes forgets, though but Kate is particularly good at remembering.
To make them stand up, we made little boxes out of cereal box cardboard
and glued the cardboard bag facades onto them. Obviously you don't have to make them triangular. Most normal people would make them rectangular or use band-aid boxes. Our cardboard pieces were too small to be made into rectangles wide enough to hold the supplies.
Emily made four peg people tokens.
And then we made our board:
To introduce suspense and the element of danger, we made 'chance' cards
that offered a variety of helpful and frightening instructions on them.
The last thing we made was an instruction sheet.
And then we test-drove the game to refine it. We found that because the game circuit was so long, we needed a couple of shortcuts to the school bus square (from which players could, with full backpacks, get to school without having to go all the way around the board). Emily is very excited to bring her game to school tomorrow!
P.S. Kate asked about the Barbie Castle again, today. I don't feel up to it, because of its size. We already have the Greengrocer shop that nobody wants to throw out and even I know there are only so many ginormous cardboard megastructures a person's house should host. Poor kids - who would've thought that their cardboard ambitions would be thwarted by their own mother?!