If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don't marry and have kids, and above all, don't die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that.

Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)

Prospects for Women in Writing, speech Portland, 21986

Reach The Top

Choice Card: Reach The Top
Vocabulary review
elementary aged and up
varies: 5 to 10 minutes?
Class Size:
small group (large class possible)
Energy Level:
whiteboard game
board, magnets playing pieces, clips/tape, string

Storyline: Each child is part of a mountain climbing team. The object is to reach the top of the mountain before it goes dark.

Preparation: This is a whiteboard game. It uses playing pieces which can be downloaded below. Each player controls a mountain-climber. To play the game the climbers must be roped together. Using paperclips and string is one possibility. Taping the string to the climbers is another. The rope should be at least double the height of the climbers. When in doubt, experiment!

The mountain should be drawn on the whiteboard. Draw an outline and then make the mountain by drawing horizontal lines. These needn't be evenly spaced but should be no more than three-quarters of the height of each climber. When in doubt experiment some more!

Climbing Up. Set Up: Using magnets place the climbers at the bottom of the mountain next to each other and the sun opposite the top of the mountain. Check the climbers are roped together - the ropes will dangle. The game is ready to start.

Play: The game is played in rounds. Each round go through some flashcards. Use double the number of climbers. The first player to identify a card gets it. If no-one identifies a card do so and put it to one side for that round. After going through the cards. The mountain climbers are moved. Climbers are moved in turn. A climber moves up one space for each card. If the player has too many cards the climber will move further than the rope allows. This is counted as a fall. The climber is returned to the level of the next lowest climber. Sometimes one climber may cause other climbers to fall. After all the climbers have moved the Sun descends. Move the Sun down one space plus one space for each fall. Can all the climbers get to the top of the mountain before the sun sets?


I think having four climbers works best.

I came up with the idea for this game after having a class in which one girl was overwhelming three others. Even when I did turn-taking activities she would jump in. She found it difficult to stop. So I decided to create a game in which players needed to measure their contribution in order to succeed. When I first introduced the game I didn't use a physical rope but had a rule that if a player got six or more spaces ahead the player fell back. This was difficult to accept - a physical rope works much better but does make the set-up a little fiddly.

For extra challenge use a timer. Set it for two minutes and every time the timer goes move the Sun down one and start the timer again. Two minutes not enough of a challenge? Let the players decide how little time they need to succeed. All this is assuming the basic game is doable.

To play the game in a large classes one can divide the players into teams and give each team team a climber. Have a rule that a team must shout out the answer rather than a single individual. Perhaps a team should all touch hands to make a pyramid when doing so (I haven't tried this).

Rather than using flashcards it could be possible to give audio cues and have players guess an answer. Anything that works at a fast pace should be OK.

If you use this game let me know how it goes.

getfile: Reach The Top

PDF: A4, 1 page, 501 kb