Time Required:

5 minutes

Tools Required:
  • Small chessboard
  • Full set of small chess pieces
      Chess Objective(s):

      Students will be able to:

      • Set up the board for beginning a chess game
      General Objective(s):
      • Improve visualization and memory
      • Communicate board setup to instructors and other children
      • Count from 1 – 32

      Tell the chess story with the children (see below). Set up the white side while telling the story, then have them help you tell the story on the black side. After the board is set up, ask the children to help you count pieces — younger groups may only be able to count the pawns, older groups can count all the pieces (also you can try light addition and comparison, “There are 8 pawns on this side, and how many do you think there are on the other?” “How many pawns altogether?” etc.)

      With smaller classes, the children can take turns setting up the pieces. Suggested to have 2 children at a time, one white, one black, so they don’t get bored. (If you’re confident, you can have 2-3 pairs of children setting up boards at one time, but that is easier after the children have done this activity once or twice.)

      The Chess Story

      Tell this story while putting the pieces on the board. The pieces are marked with brackets [] , do not say the bracketed words.

      “Once upon a time, the King and Queen got married [place the king and queen on the board]. They were married by two bishops [place the bishops on the board]. After the wedding, they got on their horses, called knights [place knights on the board] and rode to their castles called rooks [place rooks on the board]. And all of their people, called pawns, watched! [place pawns on the board] “


      • The queen’s color always matches her space – white queen on a white square, black queen on a black square.
      • Remember to orient the board correctly with “white on right” – there should be a white square in the lower right corner if you’ve oriented it correctly.


      Description for Parents

      The children took turns setting up a regular-sized chess board by listening to and retelling a story about the chess pieces: “Once upon a time, the King and Queen got married. They were married by two bishops. After the wedding, they got on their horses, called knights and rode to their castles called rooks. And all of their people, called pawns, watched!”