April 2008


A far cry better than…..

On the verge of being too…..

Whoa, I forgot you were playing too…

These are the thoughts that bounce around when I reflect on the 10 Days In… series.

Number of Players: 2 to 4
Grade Levels: Middle and Up
Length: 20 Minute

NYS Standards:
Social Studies Standard 3: Geography
MS&T Standard 7: Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
AASL Standards:
1.1.2: Use prior/background knowledge as context for new learning
2.1.2: Organize knowledge so it is useful
4.1.5: Connect ideas to own interests, previous knowledge and experience

10 Days in… is a series of games from Out of the Box Publishing which includes Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. Each of the four games has players trying to make connections using destination and travel tiles so that , when lined up, they make a complete ten day journey.

Game play is exceedingly simple, each player swaps a tile out of their scrabblesque lineup with one of three face up tiles or the draw pile in an effort to have an itinerary that works. Think Ticket to Ride, but with one draw.

To make connections, players can walk between neighboring states or countries, fly between similarly colored destinations with a matching airplane, sail on a particular body of water or drive through on country to reach another.

10 Days is very heavy on theme, so much that it verges on tipping the scale away from being a good game. On the flip side, it screams curriculum and is an excellent introductory game for uncertain administration and staff.

Many other modern board games employ a myriad of game play mechanics and themes that impart a variety of needed curricular and literacy skills, but they are not as tangable. The 10 Days series is very obvious as players scour the countries and continents look to find a way to make their destinations connect.

That leads one other sore spot, the game can be rather self involved, offering very little player interaction. Each game I have played offered few breaks for interaction from the mental aerobics as I worked out:

  • which destination tiles need to be placed where and on my line and how can I swap and rearrange the two that I need to with my one swap a turn and make it less appealing to the other players and hope it doesn’t get covered up by, OH MY, he discarded Bulgaria which is adjacent to Serbia so I will rearrange my itinerary and fly out of Bolivia so I can…….
  • There are good skills being employed in any of these games. Players are definitely flexing their geography muscles, there is a reinforcement of prior background knowledge and players are learning to adapt and reassess their approach based on current and newly introduced information.

    As such, this is a game that should be in a core middle school library game collection. It is a very simple game that is overtly educational without being an “educational game”. I would have been remiss if I had not pointed out the few shortcomings that the series has but they are not enough to detract from the weight this game has, especially in a school environment.

    So if you are looking for a place to start building your school library game collection, the 10 Days series is a great launching pad that will engage starting gamers and appease any administrative critical eyes.

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    This is the first of two parts, connecting the new AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner to board games. Infomancy’s Christopher Harris, myself and a number of librarians spent a morning putting together a document showing how the new standards relate to gaming.

    I wanted to take a few minutes to show that gaming also strongly corresponds to the many of the Common Beliefs laid out by the AASL.

    Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
    Games not only introduce basic skills which are applicable away from the table, they also provide the motivation to explore and refine those skills.

    Ethical Behavior in the use of information must be taught.
    Through positive experiences in gaming, students come to appreciate the validity of varying approaches to problems and the importance of ethical choices.

    Individuals need to acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
    Games often make use of similar skill sets but vary the interface and mechanics through which they are employed allowing players to selectively apply and reinforce prior knowledge.

    Learning has a social context.
    Games provide opportunities for individuals to develop and practice the skills necessary to successfully share and learn with others.

    Last night the masses sat huddled in line. The singer, guitarist and drummer were still warming when they started letting people in the door. The placed was close to capacity. Fans jostled to get a better view.

    This is how the gaming and gadgets event kicked off. The room was packed with librarians of all age brackets playing, socializing and engaging each other… playing.

    Too often we forget how to play. That wonderful embrace of spontaneous silliness is slowly crowded out by the ever-growing pieces of responsibility baggage that we start to pick up on our dash out of adolescence.

    Last night successfully captured that magic and brought all of the positive benefits that come with play:

    • imagination, team work, support, encouragement, strategy, skill building, exercise, social connections, and a warm fuzzy feeling!

    Thanks again to Jenny Levine and Aaron Schmidt for letting us come be a part of what was a wonderful evening!

    My colleagues Christopher Harris, Andy Austin and I are hitting the road ala Hope, Crosby & Lamour and heading to Computers in Libraries and Internet@Schools East this Sunday.

    We will be talking about open source alternatives to the current fare of Integrated Library Systems and highlighting Fish4Info, a social library experience which brings reviews, tags, ratings and more to the catalog.

    Before that, we will be enjoying the Sunday “Gaming and Gadgets” night taking place in the Jefferson Room from 5:30 – 8:00pm. There will be board games, Guitar Hero, Rock Band and DDR with rumor of prizes for a tournament. For more information visit Aaron Schmidt’s Blog.

    If you are going to be attending CIL08 stop down. We will be bringing the following board games from our game library for everyone to play: