Beginner Lessons is a series of 10 lessons to teach students the basics of chess from zero knowledge to understanding checkmate. Students will be able to play chess after these lessons. Using mini-games is a fun, effective, and engaging way to introduce children to chess. The children learn how to play the game piece by piece, before learning more complex concepts like check and checkmate. The following lessons were developed by Liam Murray and are complemented by a set of videos and posters by Andrew O’ Sullivan. Check out our YouTube channel for more fun chess mini-games.
A chess teacher must first make sure that they have have enough chess sets and demonstration board. Check out the Chess Resources page for more information on purchasing sets and demo boards.
Social Skills Through Chess
Within the series of 10 lessons you will also find lesson plans and resources to help you, a primary school teacher, to deliver a whole class/group social skills programme. The series of lessons will achieve specific learning objectives of the Social, Health and Personal Education (SPHE) curriculum for students from 1st to 6th class. The lessons achieve this through the use of short activities before and after each chess lesson. For instance, the first lesson (the Pawn) focuses on eye contact to show respect and uses the chess mini-game for students to practice this in a meaningful way.
The Social Skills Through Chess lessons have been developed in a real primary school classroom in 2020. The lessons were first released for use by primary school teachers in 2020/2021. Ficheall is keen to hear from teachers with feedback on the lessons. Please use the contact form here to get in touch.
This first lesson introduces the basics of chess such as turn-taking throughout the game as well as making eye-contact to show respect at the beginning and end of the game. The lesson explains how to set up the chess board correctly and the Pawn piece with a fun mini-game to develop students’ understanding of the Pawn.
Lesson Plan: Lesson 1: The Respect Game – The Pawn – Lesson Plan
Lesson Slides: 1. The Respect Game – Lesson Slides
Mini-Game Poster: The Pawn Game – Poster
The second lesson introduces a vital concept to young chess players – accepting defeat. The chess mini-games in this series of lessons are short so students experience many opportunities to taste victory and defeat. Students are encouraged to accept both in similar fashion. It is important students recognise that losing is a positive in chess as players clearly played against a better opponent and have something to learn. In terms of chess content, the lesson introduces the rook – a vastly more powerful piece than the pawn.
Lesson Plan: Lesson 2 – Rook Challenge
Mini-Game Poster: Rook Challenge Poster
The third lesson challenges students to plan in chess – to think conditionally using “if” and “then”. The chess content introduces the Knight piece – a difficult piece for some students to get used to – before using the Radioactive Horse Poo game to reinforce understanding of the piece. After some practice with the mini-game the board becomes crowded with counters and demands that students begin to think two or three steps ahead or else they become trapped. The forward planning doesn’t always pan out as players expected but a bad plan is better than no plan at all!
Mini-Game Poster: Radioactive Horse Poo Poster
Radioactive Horse Poo demonstration game coming soon . . .
Lesson five focuses on the idea of teamwork. While this may seem odd given the traditionally individual nature of chess, the concept will be explored on the chess board where the Pawns can be shown to play together to overcome supposedly superior opponents. Teamwork is an important aspect of any chess club or group. Indeed, if your school plans to enter Ficheall.ie regional tournaments players will be entered in teams of eight players which will encourage them to learn together and share their tricks and strategies with one another.
The chess content will introduce the Bishop for the first time.