This week I revived a game which I put up on my website about a year ago. Pirate’s Treasure is a super simple throwing and catching activity where students work together to transport treasure from island to island to eventually store it in their pirate ship.
The game got some great feedback from students, as it did with a different group of students last year. As well as putting their throwing and catching skills to the test, students also ended up in constructive debate about how to improve strategically in the game, as well as how to be a fair team player.
While there are options to play this as a competitive game, with two teams racing to collect the most treasure, where this game really comes into it’s own is the whole-class version.
In this version of the game, there is no opponent. The entire class make tactical decisions on where to place their hoop (island) then work together to transport as much treasure as possible without losing it to the bottom of the sea. As the game progresses, treasure is lost forever, mistakes are made and the stockpile of treasure available slowly decreases. The tension starts to rise and motivation to make good tactical decisions, rises with it.
I think part of the reason students come back to Phys Ed begging to play the game again, is the intangible feeling they get from working together toward a shared goal. They all have a part to play in the challenge and must support each other if they want to be successful.
This way of thinking, this way of working I believe is a more transferrable life skill. We allow plenty of opportunities for friendly competition and that too is important in driving us to be better individuals. Teaching this game though, I am made aware of how open to learning and improvement students can be when working collaboratively.
Now I am on the hunt for more activities like this. What other challenges will motivate students to work together toward a common goal? Please share your ideas!