by Jan Scherer

Instructional Objective Welcome to Battlefield! The learners will be able to memorize the names of officers, battles, and features which correspond to five wars that are taught in the course of study. In the affective domain, the learner will enjoy learning by viewing visual images.

Learners/ContextThe learners are eighth-grade US history students who are studying wars which occurred between the years 1775 and 1898. The game is designed to be played during or after the unit to reinforce the connection between each war and its components and to help students memorize them.


Rationale A game is the appropriate format for this situation because competition among players to recall names and facts increases the desire to learn. The particular rules of the game reinforce the ordered structure of the subject matter. The card game is portable. It is quick and easy to play in almost any situation. The rules are familiar; therefore, the game's learning curve does not inhibit learners from attempting the game.

Materials a deck of 77 cards, electronic buzzer or light system as used in Academic Decathlon and College Bowl

Rules: Two to six people may play at the same time. The game is played in the following manner: The object of the game is to get as many runs as possible which represent three categorized components of particular wars. Cards are first sorted into stacks according to: wars, generals, battles, and features. The cards are not named but contain a brief description. To begin, each player draws a war card and the top card from any of the remaining three stacks. As each player reads the brief description on the card drawn, any player who needs that card to make a run with his war card can claim it by correctly identifying the battle, general or feature and by placing one discard into its corresponding stack. An electric buzzer or light system may be used to identify the player who makes the first request. Answers can be checked by codes on the cards. If a player incorrectly identifies a card, he discards one and loses a chance to compete for the next card described. After each player has read a card description, he draws another card but may read from any card in his hand. There are two wild cards with peace symbols on them. Each card in a run of four is counted as one point. Runs are placed face-up on the table and play continues until all the cards have been drawn. One point is subtracted for each card remaining in the players' hands.

Bonus points: When all the scores have been counted, each player has a chance to earn five bonus points by drawing a card from an additional "map" stack and placing it next to its corresponding run. These cards contain partial maps of the regions in which the wars were fought. If a map card is incorrectly placed, the four-point run is subtracted from the total score. Each player takes turns searching the stack for up to three map cards.

Card Design Each card has a representation of either a war, a battle, a feature, a map or an officer with brief descriptive caption. The backs are color coded for each category and stamped with the name of the category.

Deck Design There are 77 cards:


Sample Cards Example of a (War of 1812) run

This general was said to be "as tough as hickory"

This motto rallied the Navy and now flies at the Naval Academy

This battle was fought two weeks after England surrendered.

Design Process I started by considering my audience and their needs. History requires a large amount of memorization. By connecting visual images into a pattern, recall of the facts will be enhanced. I considered putting the name of the item on the card so that the only thing left to identify would be the war that it belonged to. I decided that the extra challenge of having to identify the feature, officer or battle in addition to correctly linking them with a war would be much more interesting. The game could be played before the war unit is taught as a pre-test of what the students know, and then at the end of the unit to measure growth.

Another idea that is operable is allowing players to have bonus points during the play, rather than at the end when the scores are tallied. Here’s how it goes: You can pick a map card and lay it face up instead of taking your turn at reading a description. Any player who holds the war card for that map card must show that card to the other players. The reward for a correct pairing is getting to draw two of each card in the stacks of officers, features, and battles. The penalty for a wrong pairing is having to relinquish a run. I decided that the bonus points should come at the end because it would be exciting to know there is a possibility of winning the game even if the player has fewer runs than the other players.

References Two Hundred Years: A Bicentennial History of the United States, U.S. News and World Report, 1975

Last updated by Jan Scherer on September 30 1996.

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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1996.