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How to Play School

Your game of school needn't have a setup quite this elaborate.

Children spend a lot of their time in school, so it might seem strange that they would enjoy playing school as well. In fact, playing school is a fun way for kids to engage with their school experiences, either imagining themselves as teachers, lampooning the silly parts of the school day or practicing the skills they need to excel in the classroom.

Assemble a class of players. Ideally, you'll need someone to be the teacher as well as several students. If both kids and adults are playing this game, let a kid be the teacher to begin with while the adults take on the student role.

Collect classroom supplies. You'll need desks and chairs for your students, as well as a blackboard or whiteboard for your teacher to write on. If you don't have a board, use a large sheet of paper or cardboard. Students will need pencils and paper.

Decorate your classroom. The more set dressing you can lay your hands on, the better. Put up lists of classroom rules on the walls, scatter books around, put an apple on the teacher's desk -- anything you can do to make the playing area seem more classroom-like is great.

Have the teacher give the students an assignment. When you're playing school, assignments may not always be academically rigorous. In fact, they can sometimes be downright silly. Don't be surprised if teachers tell students to write out ridiculous phrases over and over, stand on their heads or draw a picture of a cow.

Grade assignments. Have the teacher hand out grades to the students for their work. These can be either sincere attempts to rate the work or capricious mind games, whichever the teacher prefers. Send underperforming students to sit in a corner; although no longer considered a good educational practice, this is still a big part of playing school.

Rotate teachers periodically. Don't let one player stay in the teacher role forever unless everyone's happy with that.

Tip

If you have several players who want to be teacher, you can assign each of them to a different subject so that your imaginary school has math, English, science and so on.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.