Coronavirus board game to teach and entertain Italian kids

An empty children's playground due to the rules against coronavirus in Genova, Italy, 11 March 2020. [EPA-EFE/LUCA ZENNARO]

One board says: “You do the shopping for your neighbours: throw the dice again”. Another orders: “You go out without a face mask: go back to the previous square”. Those are some of the rules of a new, educational cum fun, ‘coronavirus board game’ designed for kids in Italy.

A group of students from the LUMSA University in Rome has launched a simple board game, named “L’oca in quarantena” (“The goose in quarantine”) to teach children how to protect themselves from the virus through recommendations and questions related to correct and incorrect behaviour.

Players have to complete the instructions from square one, ‘first day of quarantine.’ until the finishing line, ‘We have defeated the virus.’

“It is a way of teaching kids measures against the coronavirus while they are having fun,” Paula Benevene, a professor of psychology at the LUMSA University who created the game together with three students, told Efe.

The initiative has been well received in Italy and even the Ministry of Health has published the game on its website, considering it a great educational resource.

The free downloadable game informs about the measures announced by health authorities but also offers kids several activities to do during the lockdown.

According to Benevene, it is for players of all ages: “Children can play with each other or with their parents when they are all at home.”

“You found the last packet of yeast”, “Applause for the healthcare personnel”, “Family cooking” or “Watching a good movie with your friends while you are on a video call” are some of the proposed activities within the game.

“I kept in touch with my students when classes were suspended. They asked if they could do something to help others in these times,” Benevene said. This is their small contribution “in such a difficult moment.”

The game also shows incorrect actions, such as walking a fake dog in the street or doing the shopping with the family out of the neighbourhood. These outcomes will force players to go back several squares on the board.

“For me, the idea of the game is to teach children that even if they are young they can contribute,” the teacher said.

Benevene is surprised at the positive comments and the dozens of emails from grateful parents.

In her opinion, parents appreciate having a family game to play with their children during the lockdown and at the same time, an educational resource for them, the most affected by the ongoing situation.

“Children are forced to accept this situation, but it has completely changed their lives. They need to be with other children.”

‘The goose in quarantine’ can be played remotely and both the board and the dice are available on the LUMSA University’s website.

The psychology professor explained that the process of creating the game, through brainstorming via WhatsApp, was “hilarious” and she is convinced that the university must provide some “guidance on life.”

Her students following the Master of Psychology at Work programme are already working on another board game that takes the level of difficulty up a notch, a ‘quarantine’ Monopoly.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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