Woodworking With Children How To: Fox and Sheep Playing Board

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Small speedy projects are perfect when you want to get started and practise your woodworking skills; they're also excellent if you're working with a very young carpenter. That's why we've chosen this fun game to start with - it's quick and simple to make. No special carpentry skills are needed to make this playing board, but it does require careful measuring and a steady hand!

Disclaimer: please read carefully!

This woodworking tutorial is suitable for making with children, but please remember that working with tools and wood can be dangerous. Floris Books can accept no liability for damages or injury of any kind. Before using any tool with which you are unfamiliar, consult its operating instructions and, if necessary, seek instruction by a qualified person for appropriate safety techniques.

Playing Board tutorial taken from Woodworking With Children, by Anette Grunditz and Ulf Erixon. Available now from florisbooks.co.uk, Amazon and all good craft book stockists.

Step 1: What You'll Need

  • Planed timber or plywood
  • Dowel
  • Saw
  • Ruler
  • Drill
  • Brush
  • File

Step 2: Cutting the Playing Board

Cut a playing board to the size of your choice. It must be a square and there has to be room for 33 holes, so preferably not smaller than 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in). Mark out a grid pattern of 8 by 8 equal-sized squares. If you have a board that is 20 x 20cm, then each square will be 2.5 x 2.5cm (1 x 1in). Use a mitre square to draw the lines to ensure they are completely straight.

Step 3: Drilling the Holes

When you've drawn the grid, make 33 holes to form a symmetrical cross. Mark them with a bradawl or another sharp tool, and then drill the holes. You can work out the drilling depth by measuring the thickness of the board and subtracting half a centimetre. This will ensure you don't drill a hole right through the base!

Tip: Why not try measuring a piece of masking tape to the length you need to drill, and using it to mark this on the drill tip? It will help you see when to stop.

Step 4: Making Your Playing Pieces

The playing pieces consist of sawn lengths of dowel. The dowel must be of a size that fits into the holes you've just drilled, preferably as snugly as possible. Saw 32 pieces of the same size to play Fox and Sheep or Solitaire, but make sure to make a few extra pieces while you're at it. Playing pieces have a tendency to disappear!

Step 5: Rules for Playing Fox and Sheep

This game consists of 20 sheep, and 2 foxes which are painted red. The sheep have to move across the board to the opposite side (where the foxes start).

Toss a coin to find out who will be the foxes and who will be sheep. The foxes always start. They can move in any direction: forwards, backwards, diagonally or sideways. They capture a sheep by jumping over it into an empty hole and the sheep is then taken from the board. The fox can jump several times in one move, but can stop wherever it likes.

The sheep can move forwards and sideways, but never diagonally or backwards, and they can only ever move one step at a time. They can’t capture the fox by jumping over it, but they can trap it in a corner so that it can’t go anywhere. When that happens, the sheep have won! The fox wins when it has captured at least twelve sheep.

Step 6: Rules for Playing Solitaire

In this game, just like Fox and Sheep, pieces have to be captured from the board. A single player must think strategically and play so that only one piece remains on the board. It’s all about planning your moves so that you jump over the pieces one by one, removing the pieces you have jumped over.

Start by filling 32 of the board’s 33 holes, keeping the middle hole empty. This is the starting point of the game. The pieces can move forwards, backwards and sideways, but not diagonally.

The game is over when only one piece is left in the centre hole on the board. You will need to concentrate and think logically to finish this game!

Playing Board tutorial taken from Woodworking With Children, by Anette Grunditz and Ulf Erixon. Available now from florisbooks.co.uk, Amazon and all good craft book stockists.



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