Settlers of Catan – more than just a drunken game in college

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Sharon deVries, a 7th grade teacher in Canada, used one of my favorite board games to teach children social studies. I wish I could have played Settlers of Catan in my school! The idea was to teach her students about resources, trade, exploration and economy.

For those who have never played, Settlers of Catan is a resourced-based board game. Players can build towns, roads and cities. Each roll of the dice impacts which resources are collected by a given player – it’s not enough to have a town next to a source of stone, the roll of the dice determines if you actually receive any stone that turn! Players are allowed to trade with each other, or steal from each other if they “build” a knight card. Add booze and hilarity (or rage) ensues.

And now it’s being used to teach kids stuff, who seem to be learning a little about how the world works.  With insightful tidbits like:

You don’t always have everything you need to build.

or this tactful child’s

Trading helps, but others have separate agendas.

I can only imagine the betrayals that took place in that 7th grade classroom. My games were always filled with swearing, swindling and deceit. But hey, we were old enough to understand the importance of getting clay to make bricks – how else can you cut someone’s road off and screw them out of “the longest road” card? Best these 7th graders learn these life lessons sooner rather than later.

Last Updated: April 30, 2013

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