Story Time Chess: Once Upon A Chess ProgramApril 14, 2020
Ryan looks at the Story Time Chess program that teaches kids as young as 3, the game of Chess.
Story Time Chess is a new chess program that is designed to teach children as young as 3 the game of Chess. Since I have no 3-year-olds handy, I have been playing with my Kindergartener (age 5 and turning 6 in a few weeks). The game comes packed full of things to help accomplish this goal of teaching young kids the game of chess.
Each chess piece has a thick nice character cardboard punch out that can be placed with the piece. These characters correspond to the storybook. This is a 58 page booklet that you will use to teach your child the game. The booklet is broken up into 8 different chapters that teach you about the White King, Black King, The Pawns, The Bishops, The Knights, The Rooks, The White Queen, and the Black Queen. Each story also comes with 4 exercises that you are complete with the child (they ramp up in difficulty). There is also a 9th Chapter that tells you how to play the Crown Card Game (a game that helps put all the info they learned together, before they start planning straight up chess). Teachers are to spend 1 week on each chapter repeating the story as well as the exercises to learn how that piece moves.
The stories do a good job at making a connection with the children as to why and how certain pieces move. For example the bishop twins Bea and Bop. Bea (who has green hair) only likes to move on the green grass, while Bop (with white hair) only likes walking on white. The story does also explain why they move diagonally, but you get the gist.
The Crown Card game, you will set up all the chess pieces (with their character cutouts attached) like a regular game. Players will be drawing cards and reading their objectives on the card outloud like ‘move your bishop twice or move your king and your queen once’. Once a player completes their objective they collect a token. The first to 5 tokens wins (capturing the King is not an objective in this game). There are captures in this game, but isn’t the main point of the game. There are also ways to reset (and gain back) your pieces.
The game also comes with a standard (non-cartoon) chess board (on back of the story time chess board) and a thorough guide on planning standard chess including special move rules like Pawn Promotion, Castling and En Passant
What are our thoughts on Story Time Chess?
Well, truthfully we are still making our way through the program. However, my daughter is loving everything about it – the stories (which she remembers even weeks later), the exercise, the whole experience. Don’t just take my word for it, here is what she has to say:
Olivia Meeple’s (Kindergarten) Take: It’s pretty cool, I like it. I cannot wait to be able to play a full game of Chess. I like the King Chomper’s story because he eats a lot of stuff like I do. I like how Bea and Bop only walk on certain colors. The story kinda teaches me of how the pieces move, I cannot wait to learn the Queen’s story. I also cannot wait until I learn about Checkmate. I think 3 and 4-year-olds would really like this game. I like it because it is very fun.
As for positives and negatives. The biggest negative would be its price at $40-60 depending on where you order it. However, remember this is more than just the game of Chess but a complete program, that you will be doing for weeks. A positive is that the complete program is very well spelled out for you, though you have to be willing to be slow and steady with it, as it will be 2-4 months of doing this program.
I am a parent who plays a lot of games, I would say Story Time Chess is really geared for ages 3-7 (pre-K to 1st grade) with its story and simple exercises. Even though, at times, I wonder if some of the exercises are too babyish for my Kindergartener, she doesn’t seem to mind and loves to do them multiple times in a row. Which is a good sign and shows that it is spot on with connecting to the younger kids. If you are looking to teach your child at a higher age (say 8 years old) you may want to look into a different option like No Stress Chess (which I haven’t played but am citing as an example). However, if you are looking to start your younger child learning the game due to wanting to play like mommy and daddy or just to have them start gaining the benefits of the game (learning strategy and logic, etc), Story Time Chess is THE option to choose. It’s an impressive program built exactly to do that and we recommend it for the pre-K to 1st grade age level. This is a great one to use in the classroom, due not only to the stories but the repetitive learning exercises. It also doesn’t overstay its welcome and takes about 20 minutes (if that) to complete the daily assignment.
Story Time Chess can be ordered from its website here: https://storytimechess.com/
Thanks to Story Time Chess for sending a review copy of the game for an honest review.