TTRPG with Kids

Published 7/4/22

TTRPG for Young Kids

No one has the pure chaos that is imagination better than a child. I have been introducing table top gaming to my students (ages 4- 1st grade) as a "nap time" activity that we play and they have absolutely loved it. I will state right now that gaming with kids, especially young ones, takes a lot of patience and it will not be for everyone. We play a lot more "rule of cool" and learn as we go rather than require a bunch of reading for children before we even get into the games. No matter which TTRPG we play, the children are always super excited to be someone new and roll some dice.

In my case, TTRPGs are an extra curricular activity and I needed to get parent permission forms signed before a child could join my table. There are lots of educational benefits for playing TTRPGs. The players (in this case my students) need to work cooperatively together where they use their imagination to co-create a story. Each decision they make in the game has them use problem-solving solutions that they can use to meet real life needs. TTRPGs build other skills such as improving emotional expression, creative play, social skills and patience. There are also educational purposes with math (addition and subtraction), reading, and figuring out patterns.

There are a variety of different TTRPGs that I introduce to my kids (usually in 2-3 week rotations). We play a rules light, and no weapons, version of Dungeons and Dragons 5e; we play caltrop core games such as Domesticate and Trash Pals; we play World of Wyldvir, and we learn ASL through the ttrpg Inspirisles.

Things I have Learned

  • Supplies- less is more. The less that is needed to keep track of the smoother the game.

  • Teacher/adult should be the note taker for written works. Visuals, manipulatives and smaller notes/writing can be done by the kids

  • Manipulatives are great

    • Counting blocks, dice, number dials for hit points

    • Counting cubes for spell slots

    • Using rulers that have pre measured max moves for kids so they can see how far they could go

    • Plastic spell are/line/etc. visuals so they can see where their magic will affect

  • Color coding is your friend

  • Counting via squares instead of ft.

  • Do more social stories than fights

  • Use puzzles and plots from kid shows that they enjoy

    • 99.9%of the time they won’t recognize something that they already know and will be happy to be able to figure them out

  • Kids love to roll dice. Sometimes you will get as much of a reaction from asking them to roll (for the sake of rolling) and then saying “hmmm ok” as on an actual skill roll.

  • “Yes and..” all their crazy ideas. This is a time for them to explore, even if their actions cause trouble. It’s a safe space to learn different things and the consequences aren’t as severe.

  • Age appropriate props are fun. Let them explore TTRPGs using their 5 senses.

  • Include them in your prep work:

    • Color in paper minis

    • Color in maps

    • Ask them about their wishes, dreams, aspirations, what they want to do so you can include some of those things in the game.

  • Campaign according to your kiddos

    • Adjust timing to what your kids can handle: whether that is a long campaign or smaller “one shot” mini series.

    • Role play when they are willing to role play, give them action when they need it.