Product Review of Sanford Harmony Game Room
Sanford Harmony Game Room is a collection of quick connection cards that can be used with social-emotional learning programs focusing on relationship building. Each deck includes an early-learning section and an upper-grade section. The Conversations deck includes discussion questions such as, “If you could go back in time, where would you go and what would you do?” and “What special belonging do you hope to keep your whole life?” These help learners get to know each other — find commonalities, and appreciate differences. The Collaborations deck is filled with activities that have partners working on problem-solving, collaboration, and cooperation; it includes cards like, “Create a creature with your buddy using one piece of aluminum foil and six pipe cleaners.” or “Look at the clouds with your buddy and describe what you see to each other.” The Community Builder deck has discussions and activities for larger groups or the whole class, including many games educators may be familiar with (duck, duck, goose and telephone) and many that may be new.
The activities on the Sanford Harmony Game Room cards help educators build social-emotional learning (SEL) activities into their day and week easily. Use conversation cards for two-minute check-ins with everyone in the class; others require more time for elaboration and discussion. You can also use them for writing prompts, though sharing is an important part of the connection. Use collaboration cards for partner work and building one-on-one relationships with classmates; just be sure to mix up partners regularly so that learners have a chance to strengthen relationships with many classmates. Use community-builder cards for whole-class team building. Most activities require no prep, so they could be used as fillers, but developing the routine will show kids that social-emotional learning is important and not just for when we have extra time. Visit the website to get more information about the full program, all of its resources, and professional development (PD).
At the time of review, Sanford Harmony Game Room is still new and in development. As it stands, the cards fit well with any SEL philosophy adopting restorative practices and relationship building. They could certainly be useful and a great way to weave SEL into every day. As is, the cards are good for educators who are comfortable facilitating SEL discussions and activities on the fly. However, there’s limited guidance on how to use the cards or handle learner responses for educators who may want more direction. Some cards are likely to be duds with some kids, so educators should be prepared to shift gears if necessary. Sanford Harmony has a full SEL curriculum on their website that could offer more guidance and information, but there’s no link within the app to any of the free resources.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Cards are divided between early childhood and upper grades. Educators can easily scroll through and mark activities that they like as favorites — no need to do them all.
Curriculum and Instruction
Collaboration, communication, and community-building activities fit into most SEL models. Cards give educators no-prep activities to use to strengthen relationships.
At the time of review, many features are “coming soon.” Cards are available in both English and Spanish.