Snowshoeing Education 111: The Snowshoe Shuffle, an Indoor Game

“What kind of traditional snowshoes are slightly oval, offering good maneuverability around objects but lacking good tracking ability? A) Alaskan B) Ojibwa, C) Michigan, D) Bearpaw.” As kids huddle to discuss the question, they finally deliver the answer with confidence and vigor. “It’s D, Bearpaw!” I respond, “Correct; move ahead to your next color.” Obviously, these children are playing a snowshoeing game.

Four years ago while planning a family snowshoeing weekend course at a recreation facility, I had to create an indoor snowshoe activity to fill an evening program slot. Since most children enjoy board games, I created an indoor live-board game I called Snowshoe Shuffle. The game had a snowshoeing theme and provided an assessment of children’s knowledge of snowshoeing that they learned earlier in the course.

To my surprise, children ages 5 to 10 were having loads of fun while evidencing to me a mastery of snowshoeing terminology, concepts and techniques as they answered multiple-choice questions with an exceedingly high degree of accuracy.

Here is how the game is played. Fifty snowshoes are laid out on the floor of a large room in the form of an “S.” Spaced between each of the snowshoes are two colored sheets of construction paper. Create three to five teams. Each team has three or four members depending on the number of kids playing. They select a team color. Colored sheets on the game floor are the same colors selected by the teams. One of the kids carries a snowshoe with the team color attached to it making that member a live game-piece. Another team member rolls a large die.

The game-piece child physically moves to the number of colored spaces indicated by the die. If landing on their team’s color, they draw a card and read a multiple-choice snowshoeing question. After discussion between all the kids on the team, they verbally give the answer. If the question is correct, they move forward to their next team color and wait until their turn to role the die again. If the answer is incorrect, they would move back by one space. Should they land on a color other than their team’s color at any time during the game, they are not given a question and will remain there until it is their turn to role the die again. The first team to cross the finish line and correctly answer their last question wins.

Materials that are needed to make the Snowshoe Shuffle game include:

·50 snowshoes – As an alternative, consider drawing a snowshoe on paper, make 50 copies and cut them out. In a good size room, form an “S” by placing the snowshoes about two feet apart (see photo);

·100 sheets of 3 or 4 different colored 8 ½ X 11 construction paper – Place two sheets in between each snowshoe for live game-piece kids to stand during the game; The number of different colored sheets depends on the number of teams.

·4 sheets of white or black construction paper – Place two sheets together on each end of the “S” to identify a start and finish.

·1 Very large homemade die – Use a one-foot square box wrapped in white paper and glue 2-inch black dots on the box resembling dice.

·25 or 30 3X5 cards – Have multiple choice snowshoe and snowshoeing questions typed or printed on them.

·A single snowshoe for each live game-piece team member – Tape a colored sheet of construction paper onto the snowshoe representing the team’s color and have that person carry the snowshoe throughout the game.

The sound of children cheering, laughing and having fun is always music to my ears. If those sounds are a consequence of a meaningful learning activity related to my most enjoyed recreation of snowshoeing, I’d be happy. Consider making the Snowshoe Shuffle as an activity the next time you are looking for something exciting to do with a group of children indoors. Or make your own indoor snowshoe game with some variation to the shuffle.

Indoor snowshoe games can provide educational value while offering a fun activity for children. It can enhance teamwork skills and also create excitement for the sport, enticing them to get outdoors on snowshoes. Go a step further with the Snowshoe Shuffle and create questions for teens and adults and play the game with an older population. It can be loads of fun. “In what sport can you enjoy the outdoors during winter that involves a relaxing walk on snow? A) Skydiving, B) Deep Sea Fishing, C) Snowmobiling, or D) Snowshoeing.” Well, you get the picture.

Enjoy the game.

About the author

Jim Joque

Jim Joque is a Midwest writer on snowshoeing, backpacking and canoeing. He retired from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as director of disability services and adjunct adventure education instructor, having taught snowshoeing, camping, backpacking, adventure leadership and Leave No Trace.