A select group of students spent November 21st teaching 6th graders the ancient Egyptian game of Senet. Social studies classes with Mr. Dillow and Mrs. Kinyon have been studying Egypt’s ancient civilization. This day’s objective was to compare ancient and modern board games. Mr. Dillow said about the day, “This is such a great opportunity for our students to teach one another a game from thousands of years ago. Connecting with something as simple and fun as a board game is a great way to show students that these ancient people were not so different from us.”
Even though it meant a lot of make-up work from their usual classes, several students donated their entire school day to explaining the history and rules of the game as well as demonstrating and mentoring the actual playing of Senet. These student instructors revised their presentation between classes and noticed that their speaking improved throughout the day as well.
The game of Senet is typically described as a precursor to the game of backgammon, although one presenter said it reminded her more of Mancala. Each player must move his or her five pieces through the gameboard of thirty spaces to the end before his or her opponent does. The gameboard includes safe spaces as well as spaces that trap a piece or move it backwards. Movement is determined by the toss of four half-rounded sticks.
Overall, the 6th graders seemed to enjoy the day. Reactions ranged from “I’m not a fan,” to “It’s confusing,” to “It gets easier the more you play,” to “I think it’s kind of fun,” to full-blown strategists engrossed in decimating their opponent. Whether students were teaching or learning, everyone felt the day was a success!