A few months ago, I was back home visiting my nieces and nephews. My five-year-old nephew loves playing tic tac toe, especially on an app on my iPhone. He can play forever. He just loves it. Even when I beat him time after time. Before I left, I installed the app on his iPad. He told me he planned to practice!
A few months later, I'm home again. We're playing tic tac toe. The kid is clobbering me now. I asked him if he had been practicing, and he replied with a giggle as he nodded his head. It was pretty obvious to me, he had been practicing. His strategy was so much better. He was thinking about where his next move needed to be and how to beat me. It was pretty impressive.
Games are fun! Games are a great way to spend time with a relative or a friend! But, games are also a great way to learn! When my nephew was playing tic tac toe, he had no idea how much he was really learning at the same time. If we can harness that ability to learn and having fun together, it can be a powerful tool for learning.
In my library, we had a game collection. We had several games in our parent library that could be checked out to take home and play together as a family. But, games wouldn't have to be just in a parent library. Consider perhaps a game collection to add to the school library. The games could be checked out for instruction in the classroom, but they could also be checked out by students to play at home with their family or friends. The collection could be started with donations and then built on year after year. Games could also be the perfect thing to consider when writing grants to build the collection.
Consider offering to host gaming tournaments. Obviously, you want to make sure the games are appropriate for school and the ages of students you are working with, but a gaming tournament could be a great way to get students into the library. These could also be held before school, after school, or even during lunch. There are all kind of options for getting students to visit the library.
Beyond events, consider how gaming could fit into collaboration. Breakout boxes, escape rooms, and other interactive games can easily be built into your instructional tool box when it comes time to work with teachers. The kits for these can also be another part of the library collection available for circulation. Once you get teachers started, they will want to use them all the time. Offering to help develop the game and materials can be a perfect way to open the door to collaboration.
Finally, consider how students can use the library makerspace to create their own games. I had a yearly project with our music teacher where we researched composers and the students created games based on the information they found. The students had the most fun playing their games with their classmates. It was a really unique way to have them use the information they found and share it with their classmates.
So, consider the power of gaming. It opens the library as a place for making connections, having fun, building collaboration, and creating works of art. There are many opportunities for using games to help students learn, and the library can help be a leader in that movement.