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The Gift of Board Games: Meridian special ed students learn communication in fun way

Having fun while learning — board games teach important social skills! (Photo Courtesy of Ace Robertson)

A teacher at Meridian Middle School is teaching her students important social skills in a fun way — through board games!

"Board games really do bring people together and teach a lot of wonderful skills," said Natalie Houts, special education teacher at Meridian Middle School.

To Mrs. Houts' special education students, playing with board games is just a fun break from class work. But, the truth is, they're learning all kinds of important social skills!

"For my learners, particularly, they need to experience it," said Mrs. Houts. "You can talk about it, you can give examples about it, you can explain to them why it's important. But, if they are able to have it happen organically, then it's a teachable moment! You can say, 'alright, what could you do right here? I can see you're getting frustrated. Let's practice patience.'"

Natalie Houts applied for a grant through WeLoveTeachers.org, a partnership between DonorsChoose and the Idaho CapEd Foundation.

Several of her friends and family members helped support her idea. Then, the project was fully funded by CapEd Credit Union's Get $100 Give $100 program.

The project brought 20 brand new board games into Mrs. Hout's classroom — from Battleship to Connect 4 — helping her students make connections that can truly only be learned by doing!

The students get to "play" several times a week. and twice a week other students from Meridian Middle School's Ambassador Program come into the class to play with them, too!

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