Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Learning with Games of the Week: Archaeology, and Guillotine

By Nina Kendall

Want to help your students or children connect better to the world around them? Trying to engage in conversations about culture, politics or economics with youth? Games are a great place to start. When learning new things we try to make on of three types of connections: text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world. Like books and movies, games can serve as a text. Let’s look at how two games will help you relate your experience with games to concepts. 

Archaeology: The Card Game
Archaeology is card game based on set collecting.  Each player has the goal of collect as many sets of artifacts as possible. The more complete sets the greater the number of points earned.  There are a number of approaches to help students connect with this game. 

After playing the game, students could use the set created as the basis for a story or brainstorming. How do the cards in the game become the framework of a narrative?

This game could be used as an introduction to a unit about Ancient History.  As you study an Ancient Culture, challenge students to think about what artifacts reveal.  What story do they tell? What other artifacts would be needed to better understand the culture being studied?

You could also use the artifacts to develop the concept of a cultural landscape. This concept could be explored and expanded via the attributes of the game artifacts. Students can then create examples of cultural landscapes using the categories in the game and share with each other.  If students were assigned cultures that have inhabited the same location you can also begin the conversation about sequent occupance with students.
Guillotine is Napoleonic themed game based on hand management. The cards have values that reflect the social class of the figure on each card. Guards are worth the fewest points. Royalty and Church leaders have the greatest card value and powers. Each player has the goal of successfully managing their hand to climb the social ladder and win the game by impacting the hands of other players. Each player has to make choices to navigate shift set of cards and values assigned to each class.  
This is a great way to help students begin to relate to the concept of social class and class structure. The role social class plays in history and modern society is hard for students to relate to and analyze. The cards and the related powers offer opportunities to explore this concept and the attributes of social influence, resource access, and group dynamics in a more concrete. Students can manipulate the cards to build the social ladder and use this model to relate to models of social class and power in other periods and cultures.

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