Carcassonne involves growing a landscape in Southern France by placing tiles which will feature a combinations of part of a road, a city, a cloister or a farm. It can be played by 2-5 players. Placing tiles require orienting and assembling tiles in a grid to connect features. Strategizing requires planning the growth of features, predicting which tiles are needed and analyzing game plays for offensive or defensive moves. This game is appropriate for Grades 2 and up. This page provides our tips and ideas for playing this game in your classroom.
Considerations for getting started
Carcassonne takes about half an hour for a game once you know the rules. It works perfect in a 45-minute class with set up, one game plays, wrap up and reflection.
- Number of games: Each game has enough tiles for 5 students, although were preferred groups of 4. Make sure you get a game for yourself, so you can play with your friends and family too. It really helps to know the game. For a class of 28 students, you’ll need 8 games. You might want to consider having a spare game that can be signed out when a student is absent to play with a friend or family member.
- We labelled and numbered the lid and box base of each game. Each group was responsible for their numbered game. We found these labels really helped with accountability for keeping the game complete.
- Print out of one page instruction sheet for each game and a reflection sheet for each student. We recommend keeping score with the board provided. Scoring provides experiences with number as movement along a number line, and important experience for developing fluency with rational numbers.
Sometimes students would prefer to play co-operatively rather than competitively. Below are a few suggestions to change to more cooperative play.
- Students could play in pairs to play as a team (two players for each set of tiles),
- Students could play in pairs by combining the tiles (two players for each set of two tiles)
- Provide a challenge to see which team can get the highest score
Week 1: Introduction of the Game
- Mathematical & Logical Reasoning: Exploring the possibilities for fitting tiles together to grow features: cities, roads, cloisters, and farms. Evaluating whether a tile can fit into the grid. Investigate how to place meeples to claim cities, farms, roads and cloisters
- Spatial Reasoning: Fitting and arranging the tiles together by rotating pieces to align with existing features.
- Noticings: When students place a tile onto the grid, do all the edges match the feature?
Here is a useful video for introducing how to play Carcassonne:
On the first week, we omitted playing with the farms. We decided that the game is a little complicated and omitting farms makes it a bit easier to grasp the rules. We liked to start by playing a game against one student, with the rest of the class gathered around. We deliberately made a couple of mistakes to clarify rules. For example, place tiles where the edges don’t match, like place a city edge against a grassy edge. Or place your meeple on a feature that already has someone else’s. Ask “is this move OK?”
Divide students into their groups and have them play. We liked having the students in pairs for this first game play. Then they can discuss their play and help each other. Expect lots of questions on the first day.
After Game Play
Give each student Reflection sheet 1. Reflection sheet 1 enables assessment of students’ strategies and understanding of the game. Having Blue and Red pens or pencils helped us assess their completed sheets. Once the sheets are complete, assess them as a class. You could have them assess their own as you complete it on a whiteboard or screen. REMEMBER: The assessments are not to assign a mark, they are just to assess and further understandings of the games and strategies.
Week 2: Clarification of the rules and scoring
- Mathematical & Logical Reasoning: Examining where to place tile and meeple to grow features for scoring.
- Spatial Reasoning: Visualizing and constructing growing and claiming features.
- Noticings: Are students placing tiles with matching edges? Are they placing maples on someone else’s feature?
Suggestions for Game Play
Start to play a game against one student. Review the common mistakes listed in Week 1. Students keep track of their score board on a number line. This provides them with spatial experiences of number along a path and number as measurement. Each of these experiences contributes to nuanced understandings of number that are useful for understandings rational numbers.
Organize the students to play the game. Give each Group the same numbered game and a ‘how to play’ guide. Let them play cooperatively or competitively.
After, organize the students to clean up their games.
Give each student Reflection sheet 2. Reflection sheet 2 enables assessment of students’ strategies and understanding of the game. You can get them to mark each other’s, or mark them as a class to improve understanding of the game.
Week 3: Strategizing
- Mathematical & Logical Reasoning: Exploring and analyzing how to place tiles to grow cities, farms, roads and cloisters. Investigating and representing (with meeples) claimed features of cities, farms, roads and cloisters.
- Spatial Reasoning: Moving (rotating) and situating (positioning) tiles for constructing (fitting and composing) features and positioning maples for claiming features.
- Noticings: Are students trying to make large features, or small features?
Strategizing in Carcassone requires planning the growth of features, predicting which tiles are needed and analyzing game plays for offensive or defensive moves.
Suggestions for classroom game play
Start with a whole class discussion, to evaluate some strategies for playing your best game. Ultraboard games has some great ideas to lead a discussion. Here are a few:
- Get a farm in early, to score lots of points at the end.
- Use your meeples well.
- Longterm goals: Use 3 to make a big city, a cloister and a farm. It is a solid strategy to build big and complete a large city.
- Short term goals: Use 3 to make roads and small cities that can be completed easily
- Reserve one meeple for instant scoring.
- Organize the students to play the game. Give to:
- Each Group: the same numbered game and quick how to play guide,
After Game Play
Organize students to clean up their games. Give each student a reflection sheet and red and blue pens or pencils. You can get them to mark each other’s, or mark them as a class to improve understanding of the game.
Student Journal Prompts:
- How does Carcassonne tie into math?
- Which are your favourite feature to make? Why?
Week 4: More game experiences
Keep playing this game as many times as your students enjoy this game. We have one more Reflection Sheet 4 to assess your students learning
Gratitude and credits to the students of Westmount Charter, Heather Lai, Pam Mah, Mischa Simpson, Munesah Rahman, & Dr. Janelle McFeetors at the University of Alberta for the creation of this resource.
This website draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Please cite this page as:
Francis, K., Rothschuh, S., Gierus, B., Mah, P., Lai, H., Rahman, M., & Simpson, M. (2023). Playing Carcassonne in class. In Inspiring STEM Education. https://doi.org/10.11575/6HDB-BQ48