Better way to teach kids? Pinoy-made board games

by Ma. Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Jul 31 2009 06:42 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2009 01:29 AM

MANILA - The windows are rattling as winds blow terribly hard on a dark, stormy day. Children garbed in their freshly pressed uniforms are excited to hear that classes are suspended for a day—their chance to eat warm champorado while watching cartoons or playing computer games.

How could parents turn this day off from school into a fun yet educational day?

Philippine Women’s University (PWU) teacher Aurora de Leon created two board games that would hopefully help children veer away from violent television shows and learn more about Philippine history and culture, as well as care for the environment.

The reason for making such games is her advocacy to "help raise awareness about our culture and care for the environment."

De Leon said that youth do not want to know about the Philippines because “we only get the negative news about the country.”

De Leon’s first board game, conceptualized back in 2005, was the Pinoy Ka Ba? (PKB) game created for children to realize the merits of Filipino culture.

Her Pinoy Ecology Game (PEG), meanwhile, teaches children about waste management, caring for water and air and forest protection.

PEG is one game de Leon created, believing that students will be attracted to it because of the “[world’s focus] on renewable energy, climate change, and solid waste management.”

“As a parent, it is my duty and obligation to teach my kids to appreciate being Filipino and to guide them so they will grow up to be, not only good people, but good citizens of the Philippines,” said Angelica Viloria, a mother of two and author of "Mom’s a Stewardess", who bought de Leon’s Pinoy Ka Ba? game.

Eco-friendly play

“The concept of reduce, reuse and recycle is evident from the manufacturing process of the game until the actual playing of the game,” said De Leon.

To follow the eco-theme, the Joytoy company (which released the games) reused excess cut-outs of both board games to make rulers, containers and medals found in the game. The board games are manufactured by JC Lucas Creative Products and co-conceptualized by Joytoy.

Both boxes open up into a board game with illustrations colored with non-toxic, child-friendly paint. Aside from non-toxic paint, the game parts are biodegradable.

Joytoy artists created a visual attraction that even a child of 4 can relate to. Game pieces look very Filipino and their cartoon-like physique is very appealing to children, she said.

Not only is it attractive to children but also to their parents. De Leon said that customers have emailed her regarding the vibrant colors of the boxes. 

De Leon said that playing board games in itself is environment friendly since electricity or batteries are not needed.

“[Playing board games] is a way by which my family can do something together and for the kids not to spend too much time in front of the TV or the computer or playing electronic-related games,” said Viloria.

Although aesthetically pleasing, Viloria said it was more of the game's concept that attract her to buy the board games more than anything else.

Viloria's children, she shared, have learned bits and pieces about Philippine history, culture and trivia. She hopes that by playing the PKB game her children will be more knowledgeable about Filipino culture and that they will be proud of being a Filipino.

“Aside from the information that the game gives, the game teaches my kids lessons about working in teams and taking chances,” Viloria said.

Fun mechanics

“If they are told by the teacher that they will learn by having fun, surely this already is an attraction,” De Leon said.

The game-concept of the PEG came from the board game snakes and ladders. Instead of using a plastic dice, the game uses cardboard cut-out of numbers which the player draws from a cloth pouch. The player moves from one block to another.

If the player lands on a red block, he has to pick a card. If the illustration is an example of destructing the environment then he has to move back but if it constructive for the environment, the player can move forward.  

“Just like snakes and ladders, if you’re good, you move forward. If you’re bad, you go down. This is a concept easily understood by children,” said De Leon.
There are also cards containing either easy of hard questions that a player has to answer. The first player to spell out the word "Philippines" with his or her tiles wins.

Answering an easy question will grant a player one tile, while winning a difficult question will win a player two tiles.

“My 7-year old daughter likes to play with the colorful letter tiles that you use to form the word Philippines,” recalled Viloria. She added that her 12-year old son gets a kick from guessing the correct answer even if he really does not know the answer.

Sometimes even they she and her husband would not know the answer to the questions. The PEG is for ages 4 and up while PKB is for 7 and up.

Viloria said that they finished all the cards already. “Today’s news is tomorrow’s history, we will add more cards to be sold separately in the future,” De Leon said.

Children would either be discouraged or encouraged to learn more, De Leon said, so it is good that very young players are teamed with older ones.

For public schools, OFWs

De Leon, who was recognized for her Pinoy Creative Games as an Educational Tool at the PWU, said that the games would be good materials for public school children.

She said that children in public schools need fun while learning - something they don't get too often.

Public schools are also in need of more learning tools in order to grab the attention of classroom filled with more-or-else 80 students.

De Leon added that team work and more interaction with the teacher would be enhanced through both games. It would help them as well in terms of language as both games have English and Filipino translations.

Tony Kvale owner of US-based, eco-friendly board game inventor-manufacturer Kvale Good Natured Games said he is interested to produce the PEG, should the economy improve.

“I think Aurora’s game has terrific potential for the US market. With a bit more capital at our company, we’d be in position to add PEG. I’d love to add PEG as early as possible,” Kvale said.  

He said that the PEG’s value represents a global interest in planet-friendly lifestyles. “It also adds an international charm and allows players to get a small taste of another place on the planet,” he said.

Kvale’s 6-year-old daughter Greta enjoys playing PEG because it is so easy to comprehend and also fast-moving, great for an elementary student’s attention span, he said.

Kvale added that Mathematics skills are also practiced in adding and subtracting as his daughter moves through the board.

De Leon said that the PKB game is helpful for overseas Filipinos since their children would learn more about Philippine culture and history in a unique way.

Friendly on the wallet?

Ecological may not necessarily mean economical as today’s crisis makes it difficult for everyone to buy anything. PKB is P600, while PEG is P700.

“It may be quite pricey considering present economic circumstances. Still I personally think it was a good buy for me although it would have been better had there been more cards and questions,” Viloria said.

De Leon admitted that the price is quite high but that is why she is trying to find congressmen to support her cause to help public school children.

“They would not be able to afford this but it would be a big help, I hope they would help, not me, but the children,” De Leon said.

So far only Rep. Ruffy Biazon of Muntinglupa and Mayor Marides Fernando of Marikina were able to purchase both games to give out to schools in their area.

Viloria, meanwhile, said she hopes other parents would consider investing in the game.

“As a parent though, it is as I perceive it, my duty and obligation to teach my kids to appreciate being a Filipino and to guide them so they will grow up to be, not only good people but good citizens of the Philippines ,” Viloria said.

De Leon said she hopes her game would teach Filipino children to embrace their heritage, even when they are heavily influenced by Western culture.

“We are hoping the game would reach a lot of people. The media has strong western influences, our children might forget to love the good and kind Filipino culture,” De Leon said. Report by Ma. Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak. Photos taken from https://joypinoygames.blogspot.com.