Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

[From the Archives] Today, they deal in marbles; tomorrow, they take over the world

I have a simple game that I play with my CP kids (1st graders) to help them learn their numbers.  I set out cards with the numbers 1-10 on a table, split them into 2 teams, call them up two at a time, say a number in English, and the first one to hit the number wins a point.  We've taken to calling it "Taper les numéros" (literally, Hit the numbers).  They've been getting pretty good at it, at least when they actually count and don't just hit numbers randomly, hoping they'll eventually get to the right one. Yesterday, my last class was the CP group who normally acts pretty well.  Two girls were sick, though, so we had a team of 3 -- M & S, two girls, and G, a boy -- against a team of 2 -- A, a girl, and H, a boy.  Normally, A and H are pretty good at this game, but they were just slow today, so it got to 6-2, then 9-4, playing to 10.  They got nervous, until A said "If you don't let us win, I'm never going to give you any marbles again."

Wait, what?

Let me explain something: marbles are THE game to play at recess for these kids.  All ages play marbles.  They trade them, they win them, they lose them, and apparently, A thought it was time to start bartering with them.

I laughed, thinking there was no way this would work.  M and S exchanged glances and kinda giggled, but G was up next, and he deliberately lost the point.  9-5.  Then:
A: "If you let us win, I'll give you two marbles each."
H: "Yeah, and I'll give you one more besides."
A: "Let us win, we'll give you all three marbles!"

And M, S, and G all started deliberately losing.

At 9-9, I want to see if I can change their minds at all.
Me: "Y'know, three marbles isn't a lot for this type of game.  I would think that winning this game would be worth at least seven or eight."
G: "Nope, three is plenty for me!"
M & S nod, agreeing.

And they let A & H win -- being very careful to explain to me, of course, that they did let them win.

As we lined up to go back to class, M & S & G asked after their marbles.
A: "Well, I don't have any marbles I can give you today."
H: "I don't actually have marbles that I want to give to you."
*general protestation*
A: "Ask me tomorrow.  I might have marbles that I'm okay with giving you."

Two 1st graders just screwed their classmates out of marbles for an English class game.  All I could do was laugh and be extremely impressed by their ingenuity, however backhanded it might be.