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Native/Colonial Educational Game

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cloeffler
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Joined: 01/20/2013

I am new to this site and hope you all can help me. I am attempting to build a game that helps students learn about the experiences of the first Americans and then their relationship with settlers. I am a third grade teacher that teaches a unit on Native Americans - focusing on their use of resources for survival. While I have always wanted to help students understand the challenges that natives faced when settlers arrived, the amount of time needed for both topics is difficult.

The game would be played in two parts. During the first round, students would be placed in tribes with two or three classmates. The game board is a map with various land types - woodlands, plains, coast, desert, mountain. The map is broken into 40 (8x5) cards. Each card has a 3x3 grid on it. On one side of the card is the land type/drawing. On the back is a list of resources available from that land.

Similar to the Settlers of Catan, each tribe member would choose a space for their clan's shelter. Each student represents a certain number of people in a given clan/tribe. I can't decide on the number right now. Each round they would receive the given amount of resources from the land. They can increase the amount they receive by developing their skills (i.e. hunting, fishing, farming, clothes making, building with wood or clay). For each level they move up by researching and completing activities in class, they would receive more resources.

For every clan, their is a necessary amount of resources to survive. Each round the tribe/clan is responsible for trading in their resource cards to maintain shelters, tribes people, a group of warriors, and possibly other special cards. If the tribe/clan does not have enough resources for their group, members of their tribe would not survive.

I am thinking that over time, the clan would increase in size (generationally, although I don't know how many turns would represent this change), and thus the tribe would need more resources. The tribe could move, although I'm not sure how realistic this is, depending on type of shelter chosen. I also want to create situations in which the tribes must work together or fall into conflict, so that they develop a peaceful/warlike culture to help their tribe survive.

My biggest struggles right now are with the size of the tribes and how the gameboard, moving pieces, could facilitate interaction among tribes. The second round of the game includes new settlers (fourth graders) who have been promised land, must survive the same way the natives have, bring new resources with them, and are also hoping to organize the land that they have 'acquired'.

Any ideas or thoughtful questions would be greatly appreciated.

Their goal is to make their tribe sustainable - gathering enough resources

gabrielcohn
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Joined: 11/25/2010
Complexity

I'm sorry I can't offer a lot of advice, but I worry that this sounds overly complex for third graders. I teach 7th grade and wouldn't dare to try such an in depth simulation with them. Then again, you do have the advantage of a self-contained classroom where you can spend more time on one activity (and not have to try to replicate it multiple times in one day). GOod luck! Let us know how it goes...

MarkKreitler
MarkKreitler's picture
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Zeroing in

Hey Clo,

I love this idea! Activities like this are my fondest memories from school.

I agree with the earlier comment, though, that the average 3rd grader may not grasp the rules if they are too complex.

That said, I don't see anything in your design that can't be pulled off. The trick will be zeroing in on the core concepts and streamlining the rules to highlight them.

Can you answer a few questions?

cloeffler wrote:
I am a third grade teacher that teaches a unit on Native Americans - focusing on their use of resources for survival. While I have always wanted to help students understand the challenges that natives faced when settlers arrived, the amount of time needed for both topics is difficult.

Can you list the concepts you want to highlight under the two headings of "use of resources" and "survival," and how these lists change when introducing outside settlers?

cloeffler wrote:
Their goal is to make their tribe sustainable - gathering enough resources

How do you measure sustainability?

cloeffler wrote:
During the first round, students would be placed in tribes with two or three classmates.

How long is a "round"?
How many rounds is a game?
How long is a game?

cloeffler wrote:
My biggest struggles right now are with the size of the tribes and how the gameboard, moving pieces, could facilitate interaction among tribes. The second round of the game includes new settlers (fourth graders) who have been promised land, must survive the same way the natives have, bring new resources with them, and are also hoping to organize the land that they have 'acquired'.

I've got some ideas on this, but I'll wait until I see the above answers before discussing them.

This is a great project. Glad you decided to share it with us.

Mark

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