Paideia School had its first elementary school game night this past week, organized and hosted by yours truly. I've run games in my classrooms for decades, but after attending a wonderful seminar at Gen Con Trade Day last year, I was inspired to do some more community building and game advocacy at my own school.
Several other teachers offered to lend a hand, so we had outdoor games, imaginary play in "Zombie Land," and domino games from Puerto Rico. I brought about a score options from my classroom's game library, including standards like Risk and Scrabble, as well as sets of dice and cards for all kinds of games. Several of my own students - fifth and sixth graders - came, and most of them brought or offered to teach a game or two.
We had no idea how many people would come out on a Friday night for games, and for the first thirty minutes, it was one bright-eyed six year old, her father, and four teachers playing dominoes. She cleaned our clocks! Soon after more and more families and kids arrived, and at the height of the evening we had around fifty people, all playing games. Some kids moved back and forth between Zombie Land and outdoor play, while other, older kids played a game for twenty to forty minutes and then switched to another. Everyone got to play. Lots. I required at least one adult for kids of any one family, and most of these joined the high-stakes Scrabble game.
One of my students, a long time role player, brought a tabletop fantasy adventure to run, but by the time he had gathered some interested kids, they realized they wouldn't have much time, so they played mah jong instead. I had an adventure ready as well, but I was occupied as the host most of the evening. I had fun, but next year I hope to coordinate better a few role playing games in the mix.
If you're a teacher or parent, I highly recommend organizing a game night at a local school. The game play was rich. I bought some snacks - candy, chips, fruit - for the evening, since food makes everything better, but the whole thing cost the school less than $50. It might be something a few parents could even donate to the community.