Climb the Vine

An Independent Review


Mowat, J. (1998).

Available by ordering from

Reviewed by Jennifer Morris, Louisville, KY 

 Basic Data:  

Objectives: To evaluate the level of learning and understanding before, during or after a training session.

Target Audience: For facilitators, trainers or instructors to use with their participants when there is no stable content until days or minutes before a session or for follow-up after a class or session.

Playing Time: Thirty to forty-five minutes or until a learner or team wins the game.

Number of Players: Two or more. Teams may play as individuals.

Materials Included: Game board, game pieces, and a 3.5-inch disk containing the format for game questions. 

Equipment Required: None.

Price: $35.00 US Dollars

Would you like to watch your learners share their knowledge in a fun and competitive way? Or test their retention levels without hearing the groan after announcing a "test"? That’s exactly what CLIMB THE VINE! will do for you and much more. Harold Stolovitch and Sylvie Vanasse have commented that the game contains all of the following attributes: an artificial structure, a conflict, a set of rules governing player behavior and a closure or win mechanism.

Designer Joanne Mowat created the artificial structure for her game in such a way that it reminds me of CANDYLAND or CHUTES AND LADDERS­ games that we may have played ourselves or taught. It is a flexible board that carries the theme of "climbing the vine" with steps on the board fashioned as leaves. Each leaf represents a step closer to the goal, winding along, as a vine would do. Particular leaves have special instructions such as "move to the matching leaf" which adds to the competitive nature of the game.

As the players get ready to play, a natural conflict is created by having to answer questions in order to climb the vine. The facilitator, trainer or instructor creates the questions and answers on the format provided. The topic can vary from information that needs to be reviewed to information that was just taught. Questions may ask the players for a straightforward answer, or direct them to do a particular activity associated with the learning material. The players can also create questions, adding a new dimension to the game. 

As with any game, you must have a set of rules by which the players must go by. The rules for CLIMB THE VINE! are easy to set up and even easier for the players to follow. Joanne Mowat has constructed the game to follow rules which everyone can remember using as a child ­ rolling dice to see who goes first, answering a question correctly before moving to the next leaf, getting a second turn if by chance doubles are rolled.

In addition to rules, the players need to have closure or a win mechanism and CLIMB THE VINE! has a very simple one. Having a win mechanism allows for competition among the players, which heightens interest. The player who climbs the vine first enjoys a sense of accomplishment but due to the nature of this game, everyone is considered a winner. 

My experiences with CLIMB THE VINE! has been extremely positive. I use the game during our new co-worker orientation which runs seven days long and covers quite a bit of information. I use the game at the end of the training session to measure retention and comprehension of the material covered during those seven days. The reaction from the co-workers has also been positive. I generally have teams working together, eliminating some of the "pressure" from having to answer quickly. There seems to be no pressure when the question is asked, unlike the stress caused from a test or a quiz. I am anxious to try CLIMB THE VINE! in some of the other classes I teach. My only suggestion to those who want to use the game would be to laminate the question cards so that they may be used repeatedly without getting dirty or torn.

Jennifer Morris has a degree from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and has been in the training field for two years.

ADDRESS: 1460 South 2nd #6, Louisville, KY 40208, USA;

telephone (502) 637-8446