Just Around the River Bend: a board game

It has been over a month since I started the teaching program at SFU. What a whirlwind! I have learned a lot and am feeling very hopeful about the changes coming to the BC curriculum; the idea of focusing on learning, as a opposed to a grade, is something I hold dearly. I am in the Secondary module (which is not to say there are no secondary school student teachers in the other modules; they’re just mixed up with those who want to teach elementary as well), which is nice because we get to focus on the TEENAGE BRAIN.

This past month I have been bouncing between SFU and my placement school, where I observed classes teaching different grades and different subjects (such as Computer 9 and Spanish 11). I will be back again next week, this time to start dipping my toe in the Waters of Teaching. By the end of March they’ll probably just chuck me in the Metaphorical Lake.

A couple weeks ago I taught a lesson on Sustainability with a partner to my cohort (group of classmates in the Secondary module). Overall it went well; my goal was less lecture and more activity. The lecture portion was intended to set up the topic, such as defining key terms. Then we jumped into a board game that simulated how environmental disturbances can affect a river ecosystem, followed by a reading session (students picked from a selection of articles related to the board game), and concluded with a group discussion on what they thought were the most important points from their papers.

I found the original board game on the website of a biology teacher in Ontario, Mrs. Milton (she has changed her site for the new semester, so I’m not sure where/if the board game is there anymore). Her’s is in full colour, so I decided to use it as a template and draw my own, thanks to owning a black and white printer. Max and I played few trial games, and decided to add a few more obstacles to increase the game’s pace. The whole endeavor left me longing to delve into a YouTube crash course on game theory.

So, without further ado, I present the board game! Players are salmon fry trying to swim from their spawning river to the great wide ocean.

The Board Game


Rules are as follows:

To move forward, they take turns rolling a 6-sided die. Wherever a salmon reaches a part of the river with instructions, follow them. Landing on a food tile leads to an immediate second turn.

Want to try out the game yourself?  Click here for the printable PDF!


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