Cardboard Classroom Arcade

Caine’s Arcade, as most know, is a viral sensation that started last year when a guy looking for an auto part met Caine, played his arcade, then created a video about Caine’s arcade, and the need for more arcade users. The video blew up online, and has had a lot of positives for Caine and his family. All over the simple creation of different arcade games that Caine created through observation and through his own resourcefulness and imagination.

It’s amazing what anyone can do when put in a situation where, in order to combat boredom, they use whatever is handy to kill said boredom, and in some cases become exceptionally talented in that skill. I’m envious of the generations who didn’t have video games or tv as an easy go to for boredom. Instead, kids would pick up guitars and try to recreate songs they heard on the radio, or played yard games with friends, or found ways to create and invent activities that would fill up their time after school, or during the holidays.

Now, it seems that in large part parents are comfortable with their children watching oodles of tv, or have organized their child’s lives into a variety of organized activities that allow them little chance to control their environment and create. This makes me sad because in a big way we are becoming less and less independent and critical in our problem solving, instead relying on others or on the tv/video games to mindlessly entertain us. While I’m sure boredom still exists, it’s easier to find more and more distractions that have very little actual merit on building a skill, or using one’s imagination.

I think this may be why it’s more important than ever to provide to our students an opportunity to explore and create in an open ended way in the classroom. Caine’s arcade certainly allows itself to be implemented in the classroom. We have a winter festival at our school this year, and we as a class decided to create our own arcade games that families coming into the school for the event could play. The students have really taken to the project, and have created some pretty fun, interesting projects. Many fit the profile of being directly inspired from the games Caine has created for his own arcade, and some are based on other arcade games seen at Chucky Cheese. There are a couple however, that are brand new, and came about more through just working with the different materials available, instead of being the product of pre-planning. These seem to be the most original and interesting games. One, called ‘Crush’ because it used to be a case of 12 crush cans, is attached to a metal pull-up bar, by way of a strong U magnet and a piece of string. The box swings around while kids try to get the ball into the hole in the case. Too hard and the magnet detaches. It’s actually a really fun game!

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The level of engagement is also very exciting to see. Students have been working well without argument, and haven’t needed any redirection. Any students who chose to work in groups are happy to work with one another’s ideas. All in all a great time.

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We’re also working, as a class, on an interactive arcade game that uses the makey makey and scratch to tally points, make noises, and sound alarms. Will post some more photos once the festival has come and gone.

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