The homemade snake game: “Snakes and Ladders” never goes out of fashion

A funny and interactive way to learn more about snakes

By Elisabetta Filosi

March 17, 2020

Our experience

We designed our first “Snake game” for a 2020 summer camp. We called it “Non sto più nella pelle” wich means “Can’t fit in my skin” . Our goal was to entertain kids and teach them new things at the same time. A board game that can be played outside is always a nice way to have fun learning.

The topic of the day was: Coexisting with snakes. Why do we fear them? We thought about the snake main characteristics and thought about a specific and fun game for each of them.   Of course, there was no game like the one we had in mind, so we designed it ourselves. We had a lot of fun doing it.

What do you need to design your game board?
– Thick cardboard
– Temperas and brushes
– Scissors
– Ruler
– A 6 face dice
– Patience and time
– A place where you can be a little messy

The game takes place around a game board. The game is structured like a Snakes and Ladders game, so there are several challenges. The children are divided into two teams. Here the game boxes and the their challenges:

The spitting cobra challenge
The two teams compete in a target practice with a syringe that contains two different colored liquids. The liquid represents the snake’s venom. The team that gets the most points can roll the dice again.
You’ll need:
– Needle-free syringe
– Two different colored liquid (we used mint and cherry scyrup)
– A printed target

Wireless phone challenge
Kids in a team seat next to each other. The first one reads to himself an information about snakes and repeats it in his partner’s ear. Let’s see what gets to the last one!
You’ll need:
– Cards with infos about snakes
– Images connected to the infos

The weather dice challenge
Heterothermia and temperature-related behaviors are discussed. The dice shows different symbols and temperature that kids have to link to the right sentence.
You’ll need:
– A wooden or paper dice designed by you with the weather icons and temperature you like
– Cards with the snake actions linked to the dice (see next paragraph)

Eartly morning, 20°C   (Let’s lay in the sun and warm
Sunny day, 40°C  (too hot, I stay in the shadow)
Cold and snow  (too cold, let’s hibernate. See you next spring)
Cloudy weather, 10°C (It’s start getting cold, I feel lazy)

Is that your skin? challenge
The snake is molting and it needs to stay calm and undisturbed. One turn is lost. Here you can show an esuvia if you have one and talk about the importance of molting.

The skull!
We drew 5 skulls on the game board to represent the 5 most poisonous snakes. The team that got on the skull has to undergo penance. We walked behind the kids with a water balloon and a needle ready to splash one of them.
You’ll need:
– Poisonous snakes images
– Water balloon
– A needle

Flying snake challenge
Long jump challenge. The team that jumps furthest forward rolls the dice again.

First aid challenge
You have been biten by a snake? Can your team help you? We show an infographic where all the best behaviour in case of snake bite where explained. We made the kid simulate the incident, check the shape of the bite, handle the injured kid following the instructions.
You’ll need:
– A first aid infographic

Long snake challenge
One team play the role of pray, the other team play the role of snake. The snake team moves all together like a little train and must try to stay together by chasing prey. If they can’t, they lose a turn.

How should I dress? challenge
The team must choose from different clothing designs the most appropriate one for a mountain trek.
You’ll need:
– Images of different kind of clothes

Pros and cons:

– The challenges are linked to important information about the animal. By remembering the game, it is easier to reconnect and remember also the theoretical aspects.
– We always use also images because they have mnemonic advantages: provide visual cues to retrieve factual information.
– The attention last much longer
– The amount of information is reduced and sketched in the game.
– It can be played everywhere, better if outside
– And most important, once again, IT’S FUN

– Of course, it’s a game and we can’t pretend kids play it quietly. It is easy to lose the focus and to keep the attention on what they should learn instead of what they should do to win the challenge.
– If you cannot play it outside, you can’t do the target challenge and you can’t use the water balloon because, unless you really don’t want to water your class.

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