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Middle School Historical Miniatures Modeling and Gaming as an Enrichment Class

Middle School Historical Miniatures: Modelling and Gaming as an Enrichment Class
with Alan Sheridan

Thirteen years ago I moved to Effingham County, Georgia and began teaching at Effingham County Middle School. I approached my Principal then to ask if I could start a Historical Miniatures Club as an after school extra-curricular activity. When I explained students would learn to assemble and paint World War II miniatures and then use the Flames Of War rules to play games against each other on terrain tables he said to go ahead and get it started. I am fortunate that the club is still going strong after all these years.

Check out the previous article from Alan about the Historical Miniatures club here...

About the time I was looking to start the club the owner of my Local Games Store let me know that Battlefront USA had started a school club support program and gave me the contact and number at Battlefront to ask about club support. I received four 600-point version two armies, paints, some brushes, a couple of hardback rules books and half a dozen Fortress Europe intelligence briefings. We began meetings in the cafeteria. When I put out sign-up sheets to see how many students might be interested we had 59 sign up. Of that number about 40 showed up. I was just beginning and did not have any units to teach to play yet so some students lost interest. By the end of the year I had around 20 attending regularly. A year-and-a-half later we moved across the highway into a new school and I was giving an empty classroom for my club room. I had learned to begin raising money and purchasing new units and miniatures supplies. We held pretty steady around 25 students regularly attending.

Middle School Historical Miniatures Modeling and Gaming as an Enrichment Class Middle School Historical Miniatures Modeling and Gaming as an Enrichment Class

Six years ago our school applied for and won a Literacy Initiative grant to train teachers to teach reading fluency to students in a thirty-five minute first period class every day. At the time our school had two-thirds of our students reading below their grade level (Lexile). Last year and the year before we had flipped this to two-thirds reading at or well above their grade level. When this occurred, our Literacy Team developed the idea that students who had demonstrated their ability to test well above their reading level should be offered enrichment classes as a way to reward them and to make the class sizes smaller and more effective for those needed reading assistance. I was approached by our school’s Literacy Program leader and asked if I would be willing, IF they found someone to take my literacy block class, to teach an enrichment class for Historical Miniatures. Of course I would! So, beginning after Christmas Break two years ago I began teaching the class in my Miniatures Club room. Seventy-seven students signed up for my class but only twenty-eight were allowed to be in it (due to space and miniatures limitations).

Middle School Historical Miniatures Modeling and Gaming as an Enrichment Class

The first year I received some Mid-War tank sprues from my Local Game Store to assemble and paint to use at a demonstration for a local Sci-Fi Cos-play convention. I asked my Genius Hour students to assemble them. Afterwards I used armies we had on hand to teach students to play Flames Of War. The students eventually got to the point they could play the game themselves and I could work with other students to learn to assemble and paint whatever I got from Battlefront or could purchase with our limited funds. Last year I used funds I had raised for my Miniatures Club to purchase 8 Bulge themed 1680-point version 3 armies: four each for the Germans and the Americans getting two tank/mechanized and two infantry armies for both sides. The new crop of students only had a couple who had been in the Genius Hour class with me the previous year. Most were surprised I had so many units for them to learn to assemble, paint, and base. They finished the last units the last week of school before Christmas break. I had thought too big and they did not have the chance to learn to play due to the time it took to complete the armies. The second semester we began work on four each Mid-War Eastern Front Kursk 63-point armies for both the Soviets and the Germans. Each side had two tank and two infantry/mechanized infantry armies. 

We limited this group to twenty students and it took them the whole semester to get most of their units finished and planned to let them play out a huge Bulge game with the units from the first semester. We had everything set up on a 24 X 4 table and intended to play the last week of school when the Literacy block was cancelled and we missed the opportunity.

Last year, at the end of the school year, I ordered expansion units to get the Mid-war 63-point armies up to 109-points. This year, we began last week assembling armored vehicles from this supply of units for the northern zone of battle with many infantry units with full support along with tank companies. Battlefront kicked in some boxes to assist us.

Middle School Historical Miniatures Modeling and Gaming as an Enrichment Class

I have included some photos of the group we have beginning in August of this year. This will be the initial article to begin a series of articles updating on the progress of the armies with student written reflections about what they are doing and learning. This year students have to have a day of reading and a day of writing. They will read excerpts of the histories and units in the Mid-War Kursk and Stalingrad books and write about what they have read as well as what they are doing in my class. It is my hope to get students to write most of the follow up articles.

Last Updated On Friday, October 11, 2019 by Luke at Battlefront