Life is like . . . a game of Snakes and Ladders

Well, maybe not the whole of life; that would be rather two dimensional; but certainly parts of life. I’m feeling a little that way at the moment about my website plans. No sooner do I seem to find a ladder to climb up, than I encounter a huge snake, and down I go again. At the moment I seem to be stuck in a three-steps-forward three-steps-back dance.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

I won’t say that everything one needs in life can be learned from playing Snakes and Ladders, but there are certainly some good lessons to learn from playing games. I mentioned some previously in Are you game? written in response to a flash fiction challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch; and observed them recently when playing Snakes and Ladders with my five year old grandson:

dice

  • Getting along and taking turns
  • Acceptance – accept the roll and respond accordingly: don’t try to pretend it wasn’t a “proper” roll (e.g. dropped); or attempt to change the count by skipping or counting twice on a square
  • Resilience ­– stay strong and focused and don’t crumple with repeated setbacks: okay, so you’ve been swallowed by this same snake three times now; next time you just might overcome it
  • Persistence – keep going: you might roll a succession of small numbers but each moves you closer to the goal
  • Humour and fun – always look for the light side: it is just a game after all, it’s not the winning that matters, it’s how you play it. (On the board that we played, one of the ladders ended on the same square as a snake’s head! What could we do but laugh!)
© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

I guess those are lessons I need to apply to my website “game”: I have made some good progress preparing resources; I have had some work illustrated; and I approached a web designer for a quote. The ladders seemed to be lining up just right.

Then I landed on another snake!

In a comment on a previous post Anne Goodwin, who blogs at Annecdotal and is author of the soon-to-be-released Sugar and Snails, suggested that I be mindful of my Unique Selling Point (USP).

I think my USP is probably the same as what I consider my Point of Difference (POD): resources that are interactive. Unfortunately, judging by the quote I received, the POD snake has an extreme appetite.

In a post about his self publication journey Geoff Le Pard, author of Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle who blogs at TanGental, stated that he wanted to spend as little “real” money as possible. I know that I need to spend some to achieve my goals, and as a way justifying the expense to myself, if not to anyone else, I decided to consider it a “retirement jetski”.

My retirement jetski

My retirement jetski

However an initial quote indicates that the interactive component of resources could end up costing as much as a Bugatti or a Lamborghini!

Okay, I am exaggerating – a little.

But I think I’ve slid down the back of that long snake and need to do a little recalculation as recommended a short while ago Charli Mills. I will let you know how I go extricating myself from the loop.

Snakes and ladders – Opportunities for learning

In the meanwhile, here are some suggestions for parents to make the most of learning opportunities while playing Snakes and Ladders with their children over the long summer holidays. We don’t want the progress that children have made during the term to be swallowed up by those snakes as was suggested as a distinct possibility by Sarah Brentyn in her post Harry Potter or Sidewalk Chalk? on her blog Lemon Shark. While I provided some suggestions for preventing that slide in a previous post, these suggestions are specifically for

Making the most of “teachable moments” while playing snakes and ladders:

On each turn, ask children to:

  • identify the number rolled on the dice and move their tokens the corresponding number of squares, counting them out. Ensure they do not count the square they are on.
  • tell the number they land on.

Other opportunities for discussion:

  • Who is coming first? What number are they on? What number are you on? How many do you (they) need to catch up? Could you (they) catch up with the next throw? Why/Why not?
  • How many do you need to throw to land on a snake, on a ladder? Do you want to land on a snake or a ladder? Why or why not? If you land on a snake (or a ladder), will the number be higher or lower than where you are now?
  • What number do you not want to roll if you don’t want to land on a snake?
  • What number do you need to roll to land on a ladder?
  • How many do you need to win?

Ask the children what they notice about the way the numbers are arranged. How does it differ from a usual 100 board? ( On a Snakes and Ladders board, 100 is at the top and the numbers “snake” back and forth across the board. On a 100 counting board, 100 is at the bottom and each row of ten numbers goes from left to right.)

100 flowers outline

100 counting board © Norah Colvin

Ask the children why the numbers may be arranged differently (eg 100 has to be at the top so you can go up the ladders, numbers go back and forth so you can just keep going).

But most of all, just have fun!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

29 thoughts on “Life is like . . . a game of Snakes and Ladders

  1. Sacha Black

    Great reminder that you can use games to teach – I inow that sounds ridiculous, because I know games can be educational. But with a lot of these things one naturally learns and asks some questions of a child whilst playing. But this is all unconscious. And what you have done here is bring to my conscious a reminder that you can teach many a thing and ask many a question from even simple games like snakes and ladders.

    Hope your website works out Norah. My mum always said where one door closes another will open…. So I have my fingers crossed you find a crack in a door sharpish 😊

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sacha. We are always learning – something! We’re just not always conscious of it!
      Thanks for your wishes re my website. I’m looking for that ray of sunshine coming through a crack in the door! 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Ignorance is bliss … Learning to be explicit | Norah Colvin

  3. Sarah Brentyn

    😀 Never heard of snakes and ladders. Do they bite you? Eat you? We have chutes and ladders here in the U.S. Still, as Anne says, great analogy. We are all struggling to move forward, reaching for those ladders and hoping not to run into any snakes (or chutes).

    My kids are both pretty good about playing and not being sore losers (or sore winners, which is a pet peeve of mine). What we need to work on (and by “we”, I mean the kids and I, is accepting the roll and saying it wasn’t a “proper” roll (dropped, fell off the board, bumped into the side, etc.) but we don’t cheat. 😉 No, really.

    You know, you’ve mentioned your website in a number of posts. Are you going to start fresh or revamp this one? Combine? As Rachel commented, WordPress gives you a lot of options. If I may… Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and envision what you’d like to have. You’ll see it then you can easily build it. I think you can do it.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Funny about chutes. I had never heard of chutes until Bec mentioned them in her comment. I’m not sure how she’d heard of them and I hadn’t! Perhaps chutes, or slides, would be more fitting, but they may have a more ‘fun’, ‘desirable’ connotation perhaps. That might not be a bad thing so far as teaching good gamespersonship (to coin a politically correct term – maybe) goes.
      I have been mentioning the website; mainly to put it out there and convince myself that it is, or will be, real; not to bore anyone. Although this blog is a type of website, it is vastly different from the one I am working towards. I do not have enough knowledge to create the “new” website on my own. It is too complex for me. It will be a “marketplace” for teaching resources (made by me) some of which will be available free of charge and others by subscription. I hope to carry my blog over to my website (or at least link to it) when I am up and running. I want a very professional look with easy to navigate pages and buttons. That part is not so difficult perhaps. Where I am getting stuck is in having interactive resources made to the standard I want. I can’t do it myself and the first quote was way too high. I am awaiting a second.
      Thank you for your support, encouragement and suggestions. I am happy to take them all on board for consideration. 🙂

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        Yes, the chutes (slides) are tough because they send you back and you can lose many, many spaces. Exactly like life. Seven steps forward, twenty steps back.

        Ah, okay. I remembered your posts but was unsure what you were thinking exactly for your site. Yes, that sounds a bit beyond WordPress (or…actually maybe not but definitely beyond my skills). Probably worth hiring someone then. It’s a business venture of sorts more than a website. Or, rather, a make-over or something. Let us know how it goes.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you, Sarah. That says it perfectly – seven steps forward and twenty back. Actually I don’t think I’m really going back, though it sometimes feels that way. I’m probably creeping forward – slowly!
          Yes, the website is a “business” venture, though I don’t really expect to make a lot of money out of it. I just want a way of sharing, online, resources I have made but I wish to protect my copyright and get some return for my effort. The complexity is beyond my skills, but I think the website will be made using WordPress. You’ll definitely hear how it goes. Thank you for your support and interest. 🙂

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  4. Sherri

    Oh Norah, I hope that you’ve since found your way back up a ladder again, free from that old snake! There is much to be learned from these ‘simple’ board games isn’t there? All of which you’ve so succinctly pointed out. I daren’t even think of cost at this stage for publishing. I need to catch up with Geoff’s publishing posts. I saw Rachel had some great advice for you. She is a WP Happiness Engineer, Rachel will be able to help you tons I’m sure. Actually, reading her comment, I learnt something too, I didn’t realise that we can have a website through WP too. I know I will have to start thinking of all this myself at some point. But one thing’s for sure, I do hope you won’t have to raid your jetski fund 😦 I was so looking foward to getting out on the water with you 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sherri. I haven’t had much time to think about snakes and ladders for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully there’ll be another ladder waiting as soon as I have time to look.
      I love that you have described Rachel as a Happiness Engineer. I like that. Wish I could use it but I wouldn’t want to lead people astray! Have you worked with Rachel at some stage? I’d love to hear about your experience.
      I did know about the WP website; probably before I knew about blogging! What I want (thought I wanted) is rather complicated. I don’t think I could do it on my own. I’m still considering options, when I have a moment to think. 🙂
      (We’ll still have plenty of time on the water!)

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      1. Sherri

        I hope you find yourself at the top of the ladder when you next look Norah!
        I know Rachel through blogging, have done since my early days, and remember reading her blog post last year I think it was when she announced her new job as a Happiness Engineer with WP. Isn’t it a great job title? The best! I haven’t worked with her no, but I bet she does a great job for those she has worked with!
        Things get so overwhelming at times don’t they? I hope you get some undistracted moments to look at all your options and when the time is right, make your choice and forge ahead. Easier said than done, I know…
        But so heartened to know there’s still get out on the water! 😀 😎 😉

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for your wishes, Sherri. I’m still looking!
          Thanks for that information re Rachel. It’s always good to get a recommendation. Is she still blogging? I’ll have to check it out.
          I’m pleased you’re still happy to ride along with me on my journey. There’s lots to see and do.
          I really appreciate your encouragement. Thank you. I’ll be by your place again soon. 🙂

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  5. Rachel M

    I’m not sure what you want to do but did you know you can use WordPress to build a website as well as a blog? -> https://en.support.wordpress.com/using-wordpress-to-create-a-website/

    There are also lots of themes in the theme showcase which are specifically designed for websites:
    https://theme.wordpress.com

    For example:
    https://argentdemo.wordpress.com
    and
    https://gorandemo.wordpress.com

    There are lots of things you can do without having to pay a designer or developer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much Rachel. I really appreciate your suggestions and will check out the links. My skills fall short of making the type of website I wish to have, though I think I will probably end up with a WP site anyway. I’ll see what I can find out from your suggestions. Thanks. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Rachel, Thank you so much for these links. I have had a bit of a look around, and learned a bit more. I don’t think I’m ready to take the plunge on my own though, but perhaps there are some things I could give a try. 🙂

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  6. Bec

    It’s great that there are so many learning opportunities in a game of snakes and ladders. Though I feel like I have a childhood memory of it being chutes and ladders? Were the snakes censored from me?!

    The website sounds vexing – it seems that what goes on ‘behind’ websites and other tech systems is terribly complicated, much more so that how it appears to a user when all is running smoothly. Hopefully there is a work around which avoids the exorbitance!

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    1. Norah Post author

      I don’t remember chutes, and can imagine no reason why snakes would be “censored”. Perhaps you made up your own version, censoring snakes yourself. You were good at making up your own versions of things!
      Thanks for your comment re the website. It does sound very complicated to me – beyond my skills. I’ll keep you informed! 🙂

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  7. TanGental

    As ever a well balanced post between safe advice and life intruding… Sorry he snakes are biting. You’ll find a work around, I’m sure. And yes, spending the jet ski fund may become essential. I learnt you do have to spend some cash.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. macjam47

    Best wishes for getting your website up. Sorry you keep running into snakes, but I know you will persevere. Your lessons while playing a game, reminded me of the patience required to teach a game and reinforce all the positive virtues of playing a fair game. When playing with young ones it is often difficult to help them learn to accept losing as an acceptable outcome of playing the game. Great post, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Michelle. Learning to accept losing, at any age, is always difficult, isn’t it; but being a “good sport” is part of the fun. If we cried every time we “lost” we might spend most of our time in tears! 🙂

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  9. Annecdotist

    I think the game of Snakes and Ladders is a very good metaphor for life and I really like how you’ve taken this one step further by writing about what we can learn from playing. But sorry you’re meeting so many snakes on your quest to get your website up and running. It can be a difficult decision judging how much to invest and whether the outlay is worth what you get back.
    Another stimulating post – and thanks for the mention.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Anne. I’m pleased I wasn’t too far off the mark with my analogy (funny, I keep wanting to spell it with two ‘n’s now!)
      I’m sure I ‘ll sort something out with my website. Haven’t decided just what yet. Thanks for your support.

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      1. Annecdotist

        Ha, I didn’t get caught up on the word analogy, but now that my voice activated software has learnt to spell annethology, I can run into trouble when I want to reference a collection of literary works. Of course it can be corrected but, as you know, I don’t always notice to put it right.

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        1. Norah Post author

          What fun spelling! At least you can have fun with yours. The best I can get out of mine is that I don’t have an ‘ig’ in front of it! 🙂

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