If I have learned anything while being a home educator, it's that education sometimes happens outside regular classroom hours and does not always look like a textbook assignment. This month the kids were given a priceless opportunity to review the Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House and learn to play chess. They have wanted to learn to play chess for a really long time, but I certainly didn't know how to play it.
Thanks to our new friend National Master Elliott Neff, our entire family knows how to play chess now.
What We Received
As part of the review, we received a dvd entitled Elliott's Chess School #1 PAWN Level DVD, a bonus booklet with practice positions and challenges, a vinyl mat chessboard, black and cream plastic chess pieces, and a handy carrying case (ours was green, but black is also available).
How We Used the Product
The dvd contains 10 lessons on the beginning Pawn Level. Each video is just a few minutes long and covers the rules and strategies of each of the chess pieces, as well as a couple of beginning game strategies.
The kids would watch the video and then practice the activities for that level that are contained in the activity booklet. They did this for several days in a row until they learned how to use all of the chess pieces in a game. Then they could actually play a full game against each other.
I watched all of the videos with them and discussed the content with them to make sure they understood everything they were hearing. I facilitated the activities, and then just watched them play. Have I played a game with either of them? Heck no! I'm not going to voluntarily subject myself to a situation where they can beat me! And beat me they would! They are good!
They did spend a couple of hours playing against their daddy this week. Although he showed no mercy and beat them in each game, he said they played really well. Then he watched them play a couple of games and helped them move through some strategies.
This is kind of a hard review to write because, seriously, you watch the videos and then play chess. It's that easy. This is an awesome product! The instruction is so simple that any beginner can learn from it! Eli and Brynne are 9 and 8 years old and they easily learned how to play chess in about a week of lessons. There was never any confusion about how to play.
We were going to be leaving for our annual vacation to Florida in the middle of the lessons. The kids insisted on taking the chess set with us so that they could continue the final lessons and play while on vacation. What kids headed to the beach are thinking about playing chess? Kids who love Chess House, that's who.
I have only one suggestion, and it is minor. It would be nice if the zippered compartments that contain the plastic chess pieces had velcro and attached to the traveling case so they could be pulled out and placed on the table next to the chess mat for easy collection of the pieces.
The Starter Chess Learning Kit can be purchased at Chess House for $39.95. It is recommended for ages 6-12, however any beginning chess learner would benefit.
More reviews of the Starter Chess Learning Kit by Chess House can be read at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.