Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Games with Literature Lead-Ins: Whist

With all the teen dystopian novels we've been reading lately, our literary diet has begun to feel a bit unbalanced with mind candy.  For our next "read together" novel I wanted something that offered more vocabulary meat, but with a story light and airy enough for spring reading (we tend to be restless in the spring).  That generally means Jules Verne to me, but I was thinking we'd read pretty much everything of his - until I realized it's been nearly ten years since we read "Around the World in 80 Days" together.

That means D was only six at the time, and C just 2.  Needless to say they do not really remember the story, or the rousing games of Whist it inspired.

I ordered paperbacks for each of us.  We checked a copy out from the library last time, but now we like to read out loud in turns, which makes having multiple books a must.  Kindle books would be less expensive, as we'd only have to buy one copy for all of us to use at once, but I don't like reading too much from screens where we already play games and watch videos.  Somehow reading from paper pages seems to strain the eye less - at least in my thinking.

While we're waiting for the books to arrive I did have everyone (meaning my youngest three) download a free Whist app by GASP to their Kindles.  That way, when we pull out the cards next week, along with Phileas Fogg (Vene's Whist obsessed protagonist), everyone will already know how to play the game.

There are several free Whist Apps to choose from (at least for the Kindle).  I like the one from GASP partly because of the inviting graphics...

… partly because of the training-wheel-like "easy" level, that really walks you through what to do...

… and partly because of the very simple written instructions it offers under it's "help" menu (and in the game description on Amazon).

The classic game of whist is a plain-trick game without bidding for 4 players in fixed partnerships. There are four players in two fixed partnerships. Partners sit facing each other. A standard 52 card pack is used. The cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest:
A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.
The player to the dealer's left leads to the first trick. Any card may be led. The other players, in clockwise order, each play a card to the trick. Players must follow suit by playing a card of the same suit as the card led if they can; a player with no card of the suit led may play any card. The trick is won by the highest trump in it - or if it contains no trump, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.
When all 13 tricks have been played, the side which won more tricks scores 1 point for each trick they won in excess of 6.
The partnership which first reaches 7 points wins the game.

It did take me a minute to figure out that the "trump" suite is the one being shown in the middle of the screen.  But after that, it was incredibly easy to learn (or re-learn in my case) and play.  It's also extremely addictive.

I can't wait until the books arrive and we can start reading, and playing, together.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Joanne said...

We just loved Around the World in 80 Days; we followed up with the movie but I never thought of playing the card game. How fun!!

Dawn said...

I love the idea of playing games related to literature. You are a great homeschool mom!
Blessings, Dawn

Ticia said...

And it'll be helpful for reading Jane Austen too. At least I think it was whist in her books as well.