What if I told you about an engaging teaching tool for home and school, a tool that promotes creativity, teamwork, problem-solving skills and imagination. Excited? Now what if I use the term RPG?
RPG is an acronym for “Role-Playing Games” and it has gotten a bad rap. The most famous of these games is “Dungeons and Dragons.” This is a pen and paper dice game where players create characters, go on missions and use magic, skills, and weaponry to complete their goals. When I was growing up “Dungeons and Dragons” was, and still is, misunderstood. It has come under fire from the Christian church, parent groups and many others. As a result, the term RPG has been vilified. In order to gain a different perspective I interviewed a christian dad who home-schools his kids and plays RPG’s with them.
Our society is changing and with the huge popularity of the Harry Potter series, mythical worlds and magic like that of D&D have become much more mainstream; however there is still a lot more to role playing games than just one series, and, as a teaching tool, they are invaluable.
Role-playing is at the very heart of the commonly heard phrase “Fake it ’till you make it” – that is if you can pretend and act more confident and self-assured, you will become more confident and self-assured.
Kids are born with the innate ability to imagine, pretend, and transport themselves to other times and places through their imaginations. It is how they explore both the world around them and abstract adult concepts such as playing house and trying on new careers.
As children grow older, many become self conscious and are encouraged to join the “Real World.” Fantastical places and imagination are put away in the vaults of childhood and locked up tight. Role-playing games are a great way to keep your imagination alive and offers a great way to practice and grow your creativity.
The real challenge in raising kids is making sure they do not lose there creativity and ability to imagine. There is a saying: “Our children go into school a question mark and come out a period.” But where would we be without imagination? Without imagination, human innovation would simply not exists.
There are lots of activities you can do with your kids that involve imagination and role-play every day.
All you have to do is allow your younger children to take the lead. Get involved with their make-believe and ask leading questions that prompts their imagination. Have small children develop characters for their favorite toys and give them the starring roles in new adventures.
You can also stretch your imagination and story telling skills by making up stories about the people and events going on around you. This encourages good listening skills in children since the stories you make up are verbal, but you can also incorporate art activities: draw or color a new world for your favorite characters to explore or build a model out of salt dough and paint it.
Older children can get involved in Role-playing groups offered as extra curricular activities in school or libraries, ask if there are any in your area! Role-playing is also a great way to learn and reinforce lessons and skills. This might include acting out the forming of your country in history class — for Canada, you can have different people or groups play each province, negotiating the terms of Confederation — or going through a “pretend” job interview to gain confidence and interviewing skills.
Whenever you can get kids and teens invested in something and learning through different multiple intelligences they will learn faster and retain the lessons longer. Role playing is a great way to to do this! What you can teach through role playing is limited only by YOUR imagination.
Do you have any concepts that you use role playing to teach your kids or students? Would you like to use role playing to teach a specific topic, but aren’t sure how? Please leave a comment or question below!
There are some really awesome RPGs that have been designed with kids and young adults in mind. Some of my favourites are:
The king’s children embark on a brave quest to visit all their kingdom’s many island nations, and ensure that things are well. But things are rarely well! The Princes’ Kingdom challenges its young protagonists (5-12 years old, though the players could be any age) to tackle complex issues, and to work to restore peace and prosperity in their kingdom. An accessible exploration of ethics, that is never pedantic or boring.
A story-building game about a robot, and the surprises it faces on its birthday. Cute, simple, and excellent in a primary-grade classroom.
Child monks fly between disparate worlds, answering distress calls from people in tricky situations. Similar, in some ways, to The Princes’ Kingdom.
A serious and beautiful game, about a child’s journey through the world of faerie – but also through the turbulence and frustration they feel in real life. Recommended for young adults, and not so much for younger kids. The Dreaming Crucible draws on, and is every bit as potent as, movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and Where the Wild Things Are.
I run two year-long games in my self-contained classroom. I have a real-life math game in my fifth grade math class. Their character sheet is basically a bank account record sheet.
I also wrote and run a game of politics and intrigue for my central subject, which alternates between Ancient Egypt and Tang Dynasty China.
Both activities engage my students, leading to more questions and driving lots of learning.
I look forward to reading more!
I designed Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road to be accessible to Oz fans of all ages. And by all reports, I have succeeded.
Wow! Great post thanks, I backlinked it on my blog. This subject has been resonating more and more with me lately. Gaming, mostly from computers and consoles, is becoming more and more a part of leisure time, especially kids. RPGs seem like a way to bring back the creativity, as well as offering opportunities for developing writing, socialization and art skills.
I would love to hear more tips on how to incorporate other types of learning into RPGs. I have a biology background, so many adventures involve systems ecology principles.
But stuff like what you’ve mentioned David, that’s inspirational, great!
Thank You for your feedback Aaron!
Exploring all the different aspects of RPGs has been very exciting! I have conducted an interview with a Kids home-school RPG club founder that will be looking at RPGs from a Christian perspective, and I hope to conduct an interview with David too!