[ Instructional Objective |
Learners & Context |
Object of Game |
Game Materials |
Time Required |
Design Process |
This game is designed to reinforce The
Big Six, an informational and problem solving technique developed
by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz. The Big Six consists of
six separate tasks, which help students focus research, solve
problems and make decisions. The players must have received
instruction in The Big Six before playing this game.The Big
Six steps are as follows:
The board game consists of a series of questions which players
need to answer correctly in order to score points and cycle through
the Big Six process twice. The game board is divided into six
areas that represent each step. These areas are flanked by "rooms"
which occupy the four corners of the board. The rooms describe
locations in which Big Six activities typically take place:
the Classroom, the Library Media Center, the Home, and the Group
Study (where students might work collaboratively on projects).
- Task Definition: The student defines the scope
of her topic. She orders her tasks, and creates a timeline for
- Information Seeking Strategies: The student
considers all the possible sources of information that are available.
Then she weighs which sources are best.
- Location and Access: The student thinks about
the ease of finding both the sources and the information that resides
- Use of Information: The student reviews the
information sources to determine what each source provides, and how
the information can be used to solve her problem
- Synthesis: The student reviews the information
to determine how the various sources answer her query.
- Evaluation: The student looks back on the
process by which she solved her problem. Did the synthesized product
satisfy the requirements of her task? Did she use the Big Six
The game is a linear race game which continues until all the
players have finished. The first player to finish is not necessarily
the winner. Nuts and Bolts has been designed to reward
understanding the Big Six more than the roll of the die. Those
players who have answered questions most deftly accrue the greatest
number of points. The winner is determined when the last player has
completed the second round.
In addition to individual winners, the game can be structured to
generate winning teams. Each player can be assigned to a larger team
in which her teammates are either playing simultaneously or whenever
the teacher finds spare time. Team scores can be added after each of
the individual games has been played. This creates another way for
students to connect, and greater incentive for them to learn the
process of The Big Six.
Learners and Context of Use
The game is designed for fifth and sixth graders; however, it is
possible that other grade levels may find the game useful and fun.
The cards would have to be customized accordingly.
Object of the Game
Individual and/or team that has scored the most points by the end of the game wins.
- 6 bolts, each painted a different color
- 6 nuts, painted to match the bolts
- 1 six-sided die
- 1 laminated score card
- 1 dry erase marker
- 1 stack of question cards
The game can be played two ways which will affect the amount of time required.
1) Players go around the board twice, with everyone crossing the
finish line. This should take about 45 minutes. If less time is
available, players can go around the board once; this takes
approximately 25 minutes.
2) Players can play for a designated length of time. In this
method, it is possible that some players may not complete an entire
trip around the board.
- The game is designed for 2 to 6 players.
- Play begins with all of the players' pieces located in the
- Each player rolls the die to determine who goes first. Highest
roll goes first.
- The player with the lowest roll is the scorekeeper.
- To begin, each player answers one Task Definition card
correctly; this enables him to move his "bolt" game piece onto the
"start" space. The player to his right asks the question.
- If the player correctly answers the question, he rolls the die
and moves that number of spaces clockwise on the outer path of the
board. For each correct answer the player is awarded the number of
points stated on that question card.
- The scorekeeper records points for each player in the Big
Six category which corresponds to the question category they
- If the player does not correctly answer the question, he does
not roll the die or move his bolt.
- When a player has completed his turn, play continues as above
with players taking turns in a clockwise direction around the
- Landing on a chance space (a space which includes a
special situation written on it and the opportunity to gain or
lose points) allows a player to gain or lose points for the Big
Six category that corresponds to his position on the
- As a player completes the first lap around the board on the
outer path, he is allowed to attach the matching nut to his bolt
and continue moving his gamepiece onto the inner path.
- The first player to "finish" scores an extra 10 points.
- The game is over when all players pass the "finish" space. At
this point the scores are tallied. The player with the highest
- If the game is played using teams, then team scores are added
up to determine the team winners
We began with the idea of creating a board game for students who
had already learned about the Big Six and would benefit from
having this knowledge reinforced.
The original concept of the board was of four triangles that
bordered on each other and formed a square. The shape quickly became
a hexagon by the beginning of the second meeting. It was thought that
the six sides of the hexagon reinforced the six steps.
We had some difficulty defining how the race would occur. At first
we considered having physical shortcuts, such as going to a reference
desk, which would hasten the player's progress. We eliminated this
not only because it was too complicated, but because we were not sure
that it reflected reality to reinforce that behavior regardless of
the context of a given problem. Also, there was some difference of
opinion in the group about the current relevance of the reference
desk metaphor. In the last meeting we added the inner track to make
the game last longer.
When we were at an impasse in the third meeting, Bernie
facilitated our ability to focus the movement of the game. We were
having a lot of difficulty focussing on how the game would function.
Bernie informed us that a simple race game was sufficient. He also
gave us the idea of using case studies for the card content. Linda
had received emails from the Big 6 listserv which we used as
inspiration for the case studies.
We were not sure how to coordinate what we originally conceived of
as chance cards with a given section so that the concept of
the steps would be preserved. We realized we would have to either
"hardwire" them (affix them to spaces on the board), or have separate
stacks of chance cards for each section. We decided on the
Towards the middle of the process we became aware that it must be
a lot easier to deal with concepts which have sets of stable,
hierarchical relationships than to design a board game which conveys
an iterative process. We further realized that we had to give up on
the idea of mirroring the real-life process of having to do steps
over again or return to a previous step.
In our final meeting we were discussing what to use for game
pieces. Linda described some pieces she saw in a store that had a big
nose which could represent "nosing" for information. But the group
didn't want to spend a lot of money on game pieces, so Pat jokingly
mentioned using bolts and nuts for the game pieces. The rest of us
realized that the nuts and bolts image would reinforce two aspects of
the game content: the hexagonal bolt echoed the six-sides of the
board as well as the six steps of the process. Also, "nuts and bolts"
is a pun which alludes to the basic concepts of the Big Six that our
game is designed to reinforce.
Books and Journals
Clark, R.C. (1989). Developing technical training. Phoenix:
Eisenberg, M.B. and Berkowitz, R.E. (1998). The Big Six skills
information problem-solving approach to library and information
skills instruction. [Online]. Available:
http://big6.syr.edu/ [1998, October 26].
Hyman, L. W. (1998). Big six information problem-solving.
http://edweb.sdsu.edu/edfirst/bigsix/bigsix.html [1998, October
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Last updated October 26, 1998