Learning History Through Games

Today’s educators successfully incorporate games into their curriculum.   A well designed gaming environment can effectively teach learning expectations.  As such, many high school teachers use games to contextualize academic knowledge through real world simulations.  Thus, student understanding of classroom assigned readings and lectures is enhanced from such gaming experiences.


Students justify choice of settlement based on geographical knowledge



Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a historical game simulation conducted by our high school history teacher, Meghan Robertson,  This simulation required her students to role-play colonists in early America.  Each gaming round posed different situations to which students had to make decisions for their colony.  Through this simulation Miss Robertson’s class helped me understand the value of games in education.

Games help students construct meaning.  Miss Robertson’s students tackled Social Studies standards by problem solving historically accurate challenges.  For instance, students needed to justify their settlement choice based on geographical knowledge.  They engaged in meaningful discussions about the influence of landform and climate on humans.  In essence, this game helped students gain deeper meaning from their previous learning.

Games can foster cooperation.  Miss Robertson designed this simulation for teams of students to work towards a common goal.  In order to survive individuals managed their resources collaboratively.  As a result, Miss Robertson’s students negotiated, communicated, and empathized with each other.   In today’s world, such collaborative skills are equally important as academic knowledge.

Flags created by the students represented their colonies

Games are intrinsically motivating.  Miss Robertson’s students were excited about these gaming sessions.  Because the simulation’s outcome was unknown, there was an element of surprise.  Also the students enjoyed the imaginative play that this simulation offered.  Indeed enjoyment of learning positively supports student’s social and emotional well-being.

Playing is critical to learning.  It allows individuals to explore thinking outside their daily routine.  It also provides a safe environment to make mistakes and to re-do.  In this respect, play offers skill development through practice. Without doubt creative teachers, like Miss Robertson, benefit our students by incorporating play into the curriculum.

Miss Robertson facilitates students during the history simulation.

From AIS Eagle-i

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