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Discovery Space: Board games

 

Fun at home children's activity 

Inspired by board games in the Museum's collection and the exhibition, Glorious Days: Australia 1913

Children in the October 2013 Discovery Space at the National Museum made their own board games about different themes of Australia in 2013. You might like to make your own board game at home.


Two board games.
 ‘Commonwealth Navy’ (left) and ‘Antarctica’ board games, 1913,
made by National Games Company, Melbourne. National Museum of Australia.


The National Museum of Australia has many board games in its collection. Some are 100 years old! The two games pictured above are part of the Glorious Days: Australia 1913 exhibition and were produced to celebrate exciting events of the time – the arrival of the Australian naval fleet and the exploration of Antarctica.

Board games often reflect events or trends in society. These games were popular as family entertainment in 1913, when there was no television or computer games.

A few questions to start you thinking

  • Do you like to play board games?
  • Can you think of board games you have played that illustrate events or trends of the time?
  • What is it about these games that show they come from a particular time? (Hint: Compare an old version of Monopoly with newer versions, which have electronic banking and credit cards).
  • What sort of board game would you design?

See more board games from the National Museum of Australia's collection

What you will need

You will need to get your thinking cap on to make your own board game. It’s lots of fun and you are only limited by your imagination. You might like to check out our fun at home video below for some inspiration. Here are some things you might need to get started:

A variety of items that could be used to make a board game including paperclips, stickers, pens, buttons and modelling clay. 
  • A3-size cardboard or paper that can go through a printer
  • printer (optional)
  • spare items from the stationery drawer such as paperclips, stickers, cardboard, stamps, sticky notes, pens and pencils
  • anything you have around that could be used as a game piece, such as buttons, modelling clay, rocks or photos
  • a dice or spinner (or you could make your own out of modelling clay or cardboard).

What to do: video

Watch these step-by-step instructions for creating a board game at home.

What to do: text and images

You can draw your own board game on a piece of cardboard or you could print out one of the two templates that we used in the holiday program. They are A3-size when printed.

  • Template 1 is a simple roll the dice game for younger children. Let your imagination run free and decorate your board to match your theme.
  • Template 2 is aimed at older children. You can make your own game cards to place in the speech bubble space in the middle of this board.

Two board game templates.

Template 1                                                                             Template 2

Think of a theme

This might be the hardest part! Your theme can be about anything. We chose a ‘Summer Holiday in Australia’ theme.

A board game template entitled 'Summer Holidays'. 

Here are some suggestions if you are stuck:

  • Best Pets in Show
  • The Grand Final Game
  • A Healthy Eating Game
  • Rivers and Roads around Australia
  • Animals of Australia
  • Landmarks of your town
  • The School Excursion Game

The possibilities are endless.

Make game pieces

You can make game pieces from objects such as buttons, coins, shells or small rocks. Or you could make your own. Here’s some simple ideas.

  Photos that illustrate how a picture of a player can be drawn, cut out and mounted on a bulldog clip.  

  A drawing or a photo of each of the players, cut out and mounted on a paper clip or bulldog clip.

A series of photos illustrating how a game piece can be made from a cupcake case, modelling clay and a flag.

Small cupcake case + modelling clay + flag = game piece. Or model the clay to make your own characters.

Make your game rules

Now that you have a theme, you might like to decorate your board with textas or pencils. You will also need to think of rewards or challenges in your game that fit with your theme. You can place these rules or moves on your board using textas, stickers or sticky notes. Below are some examples of game rules from ‘Summer Holidays in Australia’.

Ouch! You stayed out in the sun too long
and are sunburnt. Go back to the start.

A section of a board game template displaying the words 'Sunburnt! Go back to start' and a drawing of a sunburnt face which has 'Ouch' written underneath it.

Stop! The ice cream van has arrived.
Miss a turn.

A section of a board game template displaying the words 'icecream van! Miss a turn' and drawings of an icecream and a stop sign.

Oh no, you forgot the insect repellent and
were bitten by mozzies. Go back three spaces.

A section of a board game template displaying the words 'Bitten by Mozzies Back 3!' and a drawing of a mosquito making 'BUZZ' sounds.

You won the sandcastle-building contest
at the beach. Well done! Go forward.

A section of a board game template displaying the words 'Winner sandcastle contest. Go to' and pictures of an arrow pointing forward and a winner's badge.

Play your game

When you have finished making your board game, challenge your friends or family to a game and enjoy!

A sample of a completed board game template displaying the theme, the rules and the players. 

Share

Share your creation with us by sending a photo to: schoolholidays@nma.gov.au

We will add your photo to the National Museum’s Flickr stream, where you can see other craft creations from our Discovery Space.