SAIIER 2019:"FACES" - A Cooperative Memory Game

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SAIIER 2018-19
“FACES” – A Cooperative Memory Game


by Paula C.


This project began as “The FACES” of Auroville” – a cooperative memory game. However, due to some obstacles it evolved into something different. Rather than “FACES” and names of adult Aurovilians and Newcomers (I have many cards and continue to offer irregular game sessions), the game became the “FACES” and names of school students from Transition School and Aikiyam School.

The original project had the wider aim to bring Aurovilians together, to work in harmony, cooperation and unity. This changed into:

  • To support children to learn the benefits of working together as a team;
  • To improve memory and focus;
  • To become familiar with the names and “FACES” of children from a different school that are about the same age. After weekly team playing sessions with the “FACES” cards over several months, to bring these children together to meet each other for the first time. Would playing with the “FACES” cards of each other support them to come together with a deeper sense of knowing? Would they interact with more ease and support each other in their new teams?

Description of project:

The 2nd and 3rd grades at Transition School (34 students and 19 students respectively) and 3rd and 4th grades at Aikiyam School (25 and 25 students) participated in this project.

I took a competitive game (memory / concentration game) and restructured it in a way that promotes harmony, creates a sense of team, requires memory and focused attention right from the beginning. People begin to learn that it is ok to ask for help and they understand that the collective abilities of the team far surpass those of an individual.


Faces game 2019 2.jpg


How to play the cooperative memory game:
Mix up the pairs (first session – maximum 15 pairs) then arrange them with the picture side up in equal rows and columns. For a short time, everyone should focus and take a mental picture of the location of as many pairs they can hold with their attention. Then turn the cards over. A person starts and tries to find a pair. If the cards match, the count is one. Each subsequent pairing, add 1 to the count. When cards do not match, the count restarts. At any time players can ask for help when they do not know where the matching card is located. The object is to match all pairs with the highest count. Regardless of a match, the turn moves to the next person.
         As players begin to get a higher count, use more cards to increase the difficulty.


Each of the 5 classes was divided into 3 teams, for 15 teams altogether. I held a weekly game session with each class. Within each school I had a room allocated for the games. In the beginning, children played with mixed “FACES” (their class cards and those from the other school). As children improved in their team abilities as indicated with higher counts (number of consecutive pairings), I added more cards to the array and fewer cards from their own class.


Faces game 2019 5.JPG


In February I took all the children’s pictures again. This time it was just the “FACES”, no associated names. In March each team had 4 sessions playing exclusively with “FACES” of the other school. Each time they matched a pair, I helped them name the child. After matching all of the cards, they had a new team challenge: to name each child. They were encouraged to discuss as a group and come up with one name to guess. Each correct naming, they got a point. I kept track of the teams' highest count and the number of children named correctly. Before playing I asked if they remembered the previous week's count and name points. Amazingly most children remembered. Therefore, they would begin a new game with the goal to collectively focus and support each other in order to improve their counts.

With the help of class teachers, we were able to find a time to bring the children together to meet each other and play in the 2nd week of April. Unity Pavilion graciously offered the space to support this coming together of all children. On April 8th the 3rd grade from Transition School and 4th grade from Aikiyam School played together (5 teams, N = 44 kids). On April 9th the 2nd grades from Transition School and 3rd grade from Aikiyam School played together (7 teams, N=58 kids). The new teams were formed by random selection ensuring a balance of children from each school.


Faces game 2019 3.jpg


In the weeks leading up to the meeting at Unity Pavilion, I reminded children that they would be playing in new teams with children from the other school. They would be playing with all the “FACES” from both schools. They would have to ask for and give help to everyone on their new team in order that they do their best as a team.

Outcomes:

After the final play in mixed teams at Unity Pavilion, I have given the “FACES” cards (2 sets – with and without names) to the different classes at each school. In this way, children can continue to play with their cards.

All children involved in playing benefited from this project. I interviewed some of the children in small groups (after April 9th) to ask them questions. Here are some of the responses:

  • What did you learn?
It helped us work (focus) better as a team, work as a team to get more points, think together, to be a team, to help others, memory power got better, learned other student’s names, I understand to be quiet and only talk in English, only give help when someone asks.
  • What did you like most?
Fun playing and quiet, I enjoyed, I felt excited and happy, always happy to play, liked playing with the rules, I liked the photos and names, memory got better and got higher marks.
  • What would you change? (All of the changes children suggested were for themselves or their group. They did not want the game to change.)
When people did not ask for help and they needed it (i.e. everyone should ask for help when they don’t know where the pair is), sometimes was shouting – play more quietly, I want to help more, some people were talking rudely – only talk nicely, talk softly, no rudeness, everyone focus and everyone ask for help, I need to control myself more – focus more (this child’s response was very insightful and accurate), not talk or blurt out, only help others if they ask for help, do not distract others while they are playing.
  • How did you feel playing with children at Unity pavilion…new teams and working with children from Transition/Aikiyam school?
I was excited, happy, I really enjoyed, worked well in new teams, people would ask for help when they needed it, focused, I want to do this again in 5th grade (Aikiyam 4th grade students), I have a new friend, made some friends (many responses), (named children that they felt they had made friends with), Transition school people talked to me, “X” is a joker (student from Transition), we laughed, everyone was very kind, fun when we met them and when we had snack we talked with them, I came to know about where they live, what’s their name, how old they were…, made new friends on our teams, had new teachers and this was fun (teachers from both schools supported the new teams playing).

Reflections:

The team-play at Unity Pavilion was beyond anything I could have envisioned. I was concerned that having so many teams in one space the chance for competition between teams could develop. This did not happen. They played 3 consecutive games with their team rotating to a new table with different cards and a different teacher facilitator. They brought their team card (listing all members) with them to each table showing their highest count from each game. I encouraged them to focus more each game and improve their count.

Out of 12 teams, 5 increased their count each game. Though I explained and played with all teachers prior to the event at Unity Pavilion, the rules and way of playing were not clear for some. However, what I realized during the play and continue to see looking at the pictures, none of this mattered. The children did focus, they helped each other and really enjoyed coming together. They all want to do it again next year. They connected to children from another school that previously they did not know. They made friends. Hopefully, this memory will stay with them as they discovered different schools and living situations are not barriers to developing new friendships.

Conclusion:

This experience was very significant for me and all involved. There was a great deal of goodwill, help and teamwork behind the scenes. Unity Pavilion offered the space and helped with the setup and snacks, the AV bakery donated biscuits for the kids, photographers (3) came to help document with photos, the class teachers supported the teams, and Arpana has been working with me since March in game sessions and planning.

I am grateful for having experienced this whole process of coming together. It reminds me what we work towards – Human Unity.

The kids want it to continue again next year. This is possible. Unity Pavilion has already offered the space. If more teachers at these and/or other schools learned how to play, then they could support their students. I am happy to guide anyone interested in learning the how-to of cooperative memory games, to help with student photos and printing, and to support planning for a future coming together of kids at Unity Pavilion.



See also