Children learn through play. As an occupational therapist who works with children and youth, I use games and toys almost every day to help develop important cognitive, visual perceptual, motor, sensory, social, play and leisure skills. While many different types of activities can be used in therapy, this blog focuses on off-the-shelf games and toys that are accessible to most. Whether you are a therapist, parent, teacher, or a game lover like me, I hope you discover something useful while you are here. Learn a different way to play a game you already own or discover a new game for your next family game night. Either way, just go play. It's good for you!

The OT Magazine named The Playful Otter one of the Top 5 Pediatric OT Blogs.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Peacetown - Conflict Resolution

Lots of role playing opportunities to resolve conflict.

Work on learning and practicing conflict resolution skills

In the box: 1 2-sided game board, 70 conflict cards, 60 chance cards, 13 skill cards, 6 pawns, 1 die.

Ages 7+, 2-4 players

The goal of this game is to teach, and then provide opportunities to practice, the skills needed to peacefully resolve conflict. The game follows Steve and Wendy through a typical day in their home town, Peacetown. The game board is a large board, trifolded, and 2-sided. Side one of the game board shows exteriors of Peacetown and teaches eight conflict resolution skills:
  • Apologizing
  • Using Chance
  • Compromising
  • Taking turns
  • Sharing
  • Avoiding
  • Ignoring
  • Getting help
Side two of the game board shows what is going on in the interiors of the buildings of Peacetown and teaches deeper conflict resolution skills:
  • Listening
  • Respecting differences
  • Communicating feelings
  • Taking responsibility for actions
  • Attacking the problem, not the person
The instructions recommend a teaching session using the Skill Cards before beginning the game. There is one skill card for each conflict resolution skill that I listed above. After choosing which game you will play (1 or 2), present the skill cards, one at a time, and read the short definition included in the instructions.

There are two sets of cards to the game - one set for side one, one set for side two. The cards for each game will include conflict cards and chance cards. Conflict cards set up a conflict for you to resolve. Here are some examples:
  • Side one
    • Whenever Jake walks into the cafeteria, the kids call him "fat" or "four-eyes". Jake doesn't like this, be he has to go into the cafeteria to get lunch. What can Jake do?
    • Mr. Frankel divides his class into small groups and asks each group to draw a picture of what they think their school will look like in 50 years. Linda is put in charge of one group. She has some ideas about how the picture should look, but so does everybody else in the group. The group starts fighting over what the picture should look like. What can Linda suggest that would stop the conflict and get everyone started on the project?
  • Side two
    • When Juan gets mad, he yells at people. When Jamal gets mad, he keeps his feelings inside. Is one way of handling feelings better than the other? Why or why not?
    • Velma's dad is out of work and trying hard to find a job. Paco tells everyone at school that Velma's dad is a bum and that he doesn't want to work. If you were Velma, how would feel? How would you let Paco know how you feel?
The chance cards
  • Side one
    • A bully threatens to beat you up after school, so you ask your friends to walk home with you. Move ahead 2 spaces.
    • You refuse to take turns with a friend. Move back 2 spaces.
  • Side two
    • When your friend tells you about her problem, you listen without interrupting and try to understand her point of view. Move ahead 2 spaces.
    • You get even with a boy for tripping you by tripping him back. Move back 2 spaces.
Move along the path earning peace points by appropriately resolving conflicts. When someone reaches the finish line, the person with the most peace points wins.

Set up:
Place the board in the middle of the players. Each player chooses and places a pawn on the "start" square. Shuffle and place the conflict cards on the board. Shuffle and place the chance cards on the board.

Each player will throw the die and move his pawn that many spaces. There are no blank spaces on the board, and each space on the board has some kind of symbol that will indicate what action to take. There will be a lot of opportunities to problem solve and practice as you go.

The box has the ages of 7-12, but I did not list the top age as I have used side two with teenagers with success. Maybe some will think this goes against the spirit of the game, but I never like to penalize someone (withholding peace points) for a wrong answer when they are learning. Each wrong answer is an opportunity to teach a better way. If you want to compete, see who gets to the finish line first. Of course that will just be dependent on the roll of the die.

Try this:
  • Skip the game and just use the game cards, posing questions and role playing.

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