Exploring the Americas Game

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SWBAT...respond to questioning on early explorers to win "Exploring the Americas Game"

Big Idea

Students will gain an understanding of what motivated the explorers to leave their countries.

Setting up the Game

10 minutes

To set up the game I like to put the questions on index cards so that they look more like a real game piece. I glue the world picture of the Americas to the back and glue the questions on the front (I also make a few extra sets to keep in class as a "free time activity" to reinforce learning throughout the unit. I've had past students donate their explorer cards to use with mine, but you could also have them just keep their current set to use)

I cut out the sign tags and glued my signs to different colored paper so they are more easily seen across the room. These I like to attach at their eye level on the walls so that all students can easily see them. 

This is one of those lessons that goes quickly once it begins so you want to have it already prepared before you begin and to have thought through the path of walking. This allows you to focus on the questioning rather than the safety (or injury) of your students. This is only the second year we have done the game, but we found that it really helped with retention of the facts on explorers which allowed us to scaffold their understanding to greater impact nationality, beliefs and traditions of explorers had and still have on our world. Plus it makes for great team building skills!  


Playing the Game

25 minutes

I start the game by having the response tags posted around the room - because of my seating today I had them on my whiteboard for ease of travel.

I share with students that we are going to play a game that will see who knows explorer facts the best. I read the rules and then emphasize that the objective of the game is to answer correctly using their explorer cards to identify the correct answers to the questions I ask. I emphasize here (because I have some overly quick responders) that the objective is not to be first but to be right - keeping this in mind they will not be allowed to move to the correct tag until the timer goes off and then they must walk or they lose a point (I really have to make a consequence with this group to ensure they don't run) 

To build their excitement even more I share that there will be a bonus round and the winners will receive awards and have their pictures posted on our social studies wall!

I choose groups of 4 students to keep their numbers low enough to have everyone participating but high enough for the strugglers to gain understanding from shared oral discussions. Another bonus of the peer groups is that they hold each other accountable to good work and effort - best thing is their identifying those who gave poor effort on the reading and made mistakes on their cards, or those who rushed and wrote so sloppy that they can't read them.

Students get into their groups, lay out their explorer cards and I read the first questions. I set the timer for one minute - and say "go!" So great when learning is fun!

One suggestion you might consider is to have them lose a point for the incorrect ones so that you keep the focus on the researching rather than the rushing?

I tally points on a white board and announce who is in the lead after the first round. 

Here's a video of my students in active learning!


Bonus Round

20 minutes

Use the questions on the bonus cards to give students an opportunity to research and identify other facts about the early explorers. This not only adds a bit of competitive fun, but also has them focus on the other purposes and impacts of the explorations. I also need a way to assess on a more individualized basis their levels of understanding of researching for facts and for them to begin to make the connection between cultural differences in our country and the explorers who first claimed these areas.    

I have them either write their responses on a team white board, or play first one to raise their hand/ hit the buzzer. I then give the answer and award the points. 

This will also help them respond to the whole class focus question at the end of the game about the impact on our lives because this gives me a means to determine if they made the connect b between nationality of explorer = nationality of people who live there now



Award Presentation

5 minutes

When the game cards are all answered - each team counts their points to see who won. This team is awarded the title of

You can encourage students to save their explorer cards and shrink the explorer game tags to use in the classroom as a free choice learning activity.