Friday, April 27, 2012

Battleship Game as a Teaching Tool

Talk about manipulatives for learning! Battleship has proven to be a strong motivator for my son to learn letter recognition (A-J at least!). Counting is not problem. And then add in the idea of coordinates and a bit of strategy and you're talking 5 hours of fun. I'm not kidding FIVE hours.

Caleb first learned about the concept of battleship by a free app I downloaded for our iTouch. From the app he learned the general principles of hitting another player's ships and being hit. What is missing in the app, is the verbal coordinate commands and then marking hits & misses with pegs. So when he got it into his head that he wanted to play the real battleship, we borrowed Grandpa's copy, which also happened to be my husband's game growing up. Don't you love the "retro" 1978 box?

Honestly the real game is a bit above what my son is capable of at this age. (The box says 8 and up, and he is just turning 5.) So we have two versions of the game. The first is what we call "Side-by-side" and has helped him learn the game. I can double-check his verbal coordinates and help him map out the pegs for strategy purposes. It has built his confidence and then allowed us to play what we call "Back-to-back" which how the game was designed to be played. When we play this way, he is good at calling out coordinates, but not as good at marking them. We also like to do some predictions once our ship is first hit. We pick whether we think the ship is going up, down, left, or right. Caleb likes the excitement of being right/wrong about which way he thinks my ships are positioned. 

 I love the photo above. When I turn my back, he'll look over at my game board to help him determine his next move. Cheating? or using his resources wisely? Not sure!   

After five hours of playing Battleship with me, when Dad came home he got to play again. Not sure this is just the favorite game of the week, or if this will become a staple in our list of fun things to do.

What "regular" games have you noticed are great undercover learning opportunities for your kids? 

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