Winning streak

7th April 2000 at 01:00
Margot Fawcett has adapted educational games to suit players with differing needs

After 28 years of primary teaching, I am no longer in the classroom but building up a small business in educational games. I started with a set of four mainstream science board games used with a mixed-ability Year 56 class as preparation for the key stage 2 science SATs. One partially sighted pupil in the class, Selina, had regular visits from her visual impairment teacher, and we produced a parallel set for partially sighted pupils.

MF Games now has 15 new games, nine of which are large-scale versions of a mainstream original. The element of discussion has been built into the traditional board game formula, including two games dealing with drug awareness which can also be used for pupil assessment.

I also run workshops for PGCE students and experienced teachers as well as for disabled people. One such group went on to develop their own four games. The Leicester-based Dolphin Independence Group are all disabled young adults. The creation of their own board games was a juggling act between their mental, artistic and co-ordination skills. Particularly impressive was the game based on a Snakes amp; Ladders format called "Towards Independence", which charted the progress of a disabled person from reliance on others to the winning of sheltered accommodation with other young adults.

Building in an element of discussion or debate (also useful for the literacy hour) has been increasingly important for all abilities, but especially for children who find oral work difficult. If the only way to gain points is by giving an opinion, or stating your case, this often gives them the extra push to succeed. Creating games which enable playrs to win extra points even when it is not their turn improves concentration. By phrasing a question in a particular way, the Games Master can also enable some players to answer a simple "yes" or "no", which is helpful if speech is difficult.

Games can be designed without a computer. Try the "pin-prick" method to obtain a well set-out design. Plan your game on a grid or piece of graph paper, then make tiny pin-pricks at all the major points. On the plain reverse side you should be able to see the pin-pricks clearly enough to copy your design. When this is photocopied, the tiny marks will not be visible. Remember - any board game is a tool for you to adapt. Change the rules to suit your own needs.

Tips for adapting games

* Choose the appropriate counters for your pupils. Extra-large stacking ones are particularly useful. (Try Plastics for Games,

* Use non-matching counters to cover symbols - they are much easier to spot.

* Arrow spinners assist players with co-ordination problems.

* Locate the spinner away from the scoring area and counters.

* Have a small tray for throwing dice unless a special container is available.

* Paper putty helps hold counters and boards in place.

* Adapt games for non-verbal pupils so that a simple YESNO can score.

* Use bright colours - well spaced. Plasticwax crayons are better than felt-tips; use matt laminate for partially sighted pupils; cut out bright blocks of colour from magazines for a sharper finish than hand colouring.

Margot Fawcett runs MF Games from 19 Linden Drive, Leicester LE5 6AJ. TelFax: 0116 273 7541. E-mail: New games for KS2 science now available

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