How to run a Guardians club

Below is a timeline to help you with your preparation.

  • About six weeks before

    Share the vision. Ask the school if they would consider having a Guardians Club and a simple explanation of the game (see initial letter template that can be adapted if appropriate).

    Explain that the club would need to use the school’s tablet devices and check that the game would run on these (Guardians of Ancora runs on Apple, Android or Kindle Fire devices). Schools normally have an IT room where these can be used or a trolley that can be delivered to the room you are in.

    Book in a date to run the Guardians Assembly (see assembly letter that can be adapted as appropriate) with the appropriate year groups (Years 4–6/KS2).

    Ask people at local churches if they would consider volunteering in the group. This could simply be chatting to the children as they play on the game.

    Ensure that they have appropriate DBS clearance.

  • About two weeks before

    Lead the Guardians Club Assembly with the appropriate year groups and give out permission letters to the teachers to send home. (See the draft permission letter that can be adapted if appropriate.)

    Make sure you know the game well. This is an excuse for you to sit down with a cup of tea and spend lots of time playing Guardians of Ancora! This is essential in order to be game-fluent when sharing the app with the children. (If you don’t play games regularly you may find this hard to master, but don’t worry if you are not super-competent: the children are likely to be used to gaming and will grow in confidence and enthusiasm if you sometimes need their help!)

  • One week before

    Visit the school and collate a list of the children who will be coming to the club. Ensure you are aware which member of staff will be responsible for sending the children home at the end of the club. Ensure you are also aware of any additional needs the children may have.

    While you are there, this would be a good chance to download the game on to the devices you will be using or to liaise with the member of school staff who will be doing so. This needs to be done prior to the club starting. Most schools have numbered devices and so you will be able to note down which ones have the game on it. Once this is done, the game will stay on the device. All you have to do then is remember to check for updates for the game. Doing this will mean you get all the new stories and content!

    If you are using the same set of devices each week and you are only using them to run one club, keep a note of the numbers marked on each device by the school and which child uses which device. This will ensure that the next time they play they can continue where they left off.

    Alternatively, children can set up a game account which will mean their progress will be saved and they can log in to play on their own device at home, as well as in the club. To do this, they will need an email address from a parent/carer; the adult will then receive an email to confirm permission. If you wish to do this, ask for the email address when you send the letter to parents.

    When setting up an account, children will need to choose a username and password. If they have not already been taught this at school, there is helpful advice online from reputable sites such as BBC’s Newsround www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/24837924 and NetSmartz www.netsmartz.org/NetSmartzKids/PasswordRap.

    Ask people from your local church to pray for the Guardians Club.

  • On the day of each session

    Get to the school early and ensure you have the tablet devices. Remember to be sensitive that they may be in use in another classroom. Ensure that the room is safe and tidy.

    If possible, attach one of the devices to a projector. A teacher could help with this, BUT it is not essential.

    Be ready with the session plan you have chosen for the day.

    The session plans are designed to be flexible and simple. Activities are suggested, but do feel free to adapt the ideas to suit your own group and situation.

    Make sure you start with the ‘first session’ section at your first meeting; then continue in whatever order you choose. (Bible Quests are graded easy/normal/hard so think about the level of skills in your group as you plan your programme.)

Do the children need to have a game account to play?

It is not necessary for children to have a game account, but they will not be able to save their progress from session to session without one.

If you can be sure that your club will be using the same set of devices every week (and if you are only running one club per week), list the school’s reference number for the devices and note which child is using which device. Next time, match up the children and devices, so they will be able to carry on playing with the same character as before. (This is not a foolproof method because you cannot be sure that the games are not played or cleared between your sessions.)

Setting up a game account is easy and free, but it does require the child to have a parent or carer’s email. That adult will then be sent an email to confirm the account. The child can then log in to any device and play, at school and at home. This saves you needing to keep track of who is using which device, but it does require the extra permission information from the parent letter.

It is perfectly possible for a child to play the game without either of these methods, but they will be starting each time afresh with a new game and a new character, with no saved progress. That can be frustrating for players who have, for instance, completed a Bible Quest or collected a high number of firebugs or unlocked parts of the game but are now back to the start.

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