Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pokemon & Homeschool

If Connor spent most of Kindergarten playing Monopoly, Risk and other board games, which he did, then he has graduated to Pokemon for 1st Grade.

And this is okay.

He learned so much from playing those board games all the time last year.  Monopoly taught him math and money and strategy.  Risk taught him geography.  Pokemon is teaching him different stuff this year.

For one thing, you have to read each and every Pokemon card.  They are all different.  And they contain crazy great vocabulary words.  The attacks are things like Combustion, Hone Claws, Flail, Telekinesis, Gnaw, Pierce, Bemusing Aroma...

These are words that we aren't encountering in his other first grade vocabulary lessons.

And the names of the Pokemon make you flex some serious phonetic muscles:  Zoroark, Cubchoo, Venipede, Rufflet, Sigilyph...

You have to sound them out.

League Challenge

For another thing, there is math involved.  Many of the attacks are simple addition that you add on to the damage already done to the Pokemon.  If it is less than the Pokemon's hit power, he survives.  If the damage is greater than or equal to the hit power, he is a goner.  But many of the attacks are cumulative, and you have to multiply the damage by some factor (like the number of Pokemon in play, or energy attached to the Pokemon, etc.) and then add it to the damage already done to the Pokemon being attacked.  And there is order of operations going on, too.  Because after you figure the damage you can sometimes take into account weakness (which is usually a multiple of twice as much damage) or resistance (which is usually a subtraction of -20 damage) before adding it to the existing damage.

Did I lose you there?  Just suffice it to say that playing Pokemon requires addition, subtraction, multiplication, value comparisons, and order of operations.  

First place match
First place match from this weekend.

The amount of strategy involved in the game is almost unfathomable.  There are so many Pokemon to choose from, so many trainer cards.  I don't know what the official count of legal cards is this season, but I think it's probably close to 800 cards to choose from.  And they add more and retire some every year to keep the game fresh.

You build your own 60 card decks and each one plays differently against every other 60 card deck built.  And then their is the luck of the draw, so each game is different.  Connor spends so much time studying the cards available and planning out how different cards work together and building new decks.  He is always taking apart decks and building new ones and trying them out.  He usually builds a new deck for each event we go to, because he really enjoys that aspect of the game.

Then there are all sorts of benefits of playing in an organized competitive setting.  We have socialization going on, and we make sure they are practicing good sportsmanship.  No sore winners or sorry losers allowed.  I have asked Connor to introduce himself before every game and shake hands with his opponent afterwards. 

Plus, it's just plain old fun.

First Place Card
Connor won first place at a League Challenge this weekend. 
He's been on cloud nine ever since.

There is even a league especially for homeschoolers, so we have met other local homeschooling families that we can play Pokemon with once a week.  You know, and talk about other homeschooling stuff.

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