June 17, 2019
K-State Libraries' Ireton develops summer strategy gaming club for teens at Manhattan Public Library
Filling the long summer hours can be a challenging proposition for teens, and a part-time job can only go so far. Some Manhattan teens are benefiting from another option developed by a K-State librarian.
Dan Ireton, a K-State academic services librarian, has created an alternative to more screen time: He is hosting a strategy tabletop gaming club for teens at Manhattan Public Library through the end of June.
In partnership with the library and Manhattan's UFM Community Learning Center, Ireton created a program for teens in grades 7 through 12.
They have been coming together twice weekly from 2-4 p.m. Mondays and Fridays to interact with their peers in a wide variety of tabletop games, including Mysterium, Dixit, Code Names and Machi Koro.
The workshop is full, but there are often spots available for teens who drop in. There's no need to have prior experience with strategy games, as instruction will be provided.
While it's a fun way to fill an afternoon, Ireton also is taking the time to conduct research on the ways strategy games build literacy skills.
"To varying degrees, each of these games has the potential to develop skills related to literacy, content creation, communication, team building and social confidence," Ireton said. "Just the process of coming to the table to engage with a group of your peers you've never met before can be a really valuable experience, especially for this age group."
Ireton has a long history of using gaming in education on the K-State campus. After he offered a gaming class through UFM's course catalog, Ireton worked with Kayla Savage, UFM education coordinator, to apply for a K-LINK USD 383 grant in support of the Manhattan Public Library summer programming. K-LINK USD 383 is a regranting program that is allocating $3.2 million to support development of literacy resources, training and events for families and students.
UFM managed the administrative side of the workshop, including registration, while Ireton created the programming and manages the club on-site. In the future, Ireton sees potential to develop the model into a Cat Community or to offer similar workshops for other age groups, including adults.
Contact Ireton with questions about the Manhattan Public Library program for teens or to inquire about other ways gaming strategy can be incorporated in a classroom setting.