In a soliloquy from Henry V, the title character announces “the game is afoot” in encouraging his men to battle. That is how I oft feel about my teaching repertoire. One of the things that I absolutely love in my teaching is the use of games and simulations to immerse students in the context and experience of social studies content. What is better to teach students about the areas of our content by having them do it. With games, I find it more efficient and more interesting to have them play a game to find out about an event, rather than a dry lecture or textbook worksheet.. Fortunately, I stumbled across a site for fellow game-junkies that has high-quality online games for you to utilize in your classroom.
www.playinghistory.org has over 140 different game/simulation online programs. Best of all…they are all free!!! What sets this site apart from others is that these games have been reviewed by the site creator for merit on the page and they are further reviewed by those who use them. This helps ensure a bit of quality while searching through the site for that one activity to set your unit up just how you like it. Before I explore a few of the games, I want to caution you, if you like history and games, you may wind up losing a planning period or afternoon or evening exploring the content of this site!
The Redistricting Game is a simulation on gerrymandering. Through 5 fictional scenarios, the player is assigned to redistrict the map to either help one party or another, meet regulations of the Voting Act, or serve as an independent non-partisan committee to best assemble new districts. Rather than make the exploration of gerrymandering a boring exercise, this simulation provides students with instant feedback and the understanding of political pressures that may play a part in the assembling of voting districts.
1066: The Game is a gamer’s dream! It recreates the three major conflicts of the Norman Invasion (Vikings v. Saxons, Saxons v. Vikings, and Normans v. Saxons) and provides an understanding of these great conflicts. It challenges students to recreate the history and if supplemented with appropriate teacher debriefing will go far in teaching students about the tumultuous period that occurred in changing the fate of the world.
Great Upper Canada Adventure–Imagine this game as Oregon Trail once you make it to the coast without the cholera. You take the role of a settler in Canada who must make decisions about the future to survive on the plains of Canada. Very kid friendly game that offers suggestions for poor decisions.
This is just a small sampling of the games cataloged on the site. The site itself offers a good search engine for the site as well as tags to find games by subject matter. It is well worth the time to explore what is there. But be warned that you may get sidetracked.
In social studies,