Explorers



by Jean O'Grady

Jean is currently teaching Basic Skills at Wilson Middle School, waiting for someone to offer her a full-time job. Her hobbies include walking the dog, reading, and "playing" on the computer.

Instructional Objective Students will reinforce their knowledge of 11 explorers by matching 4 facts about each explorer. After playing the game several times, they should be able to match the explorer to at least 3 facts about him.


Learners/Context The learners are students in the middle elementary grades who are studying about explorers. Ideally, they should be familiar with the explorers before they play the game, so that they have some prior knowledge about them. This is a variation on the game "Go Fish," so it would also be helpful if they had played that game before.

This game could be played by groups of from two to four students after they had finished with their work, or during class in groups of four or fewer. If played as a class, enough copies of the game would need to be available so that each group would have access to their own game. A variation involves a class activity that is described in the last part of the Rules section.


Rationale The material to be learned isn't difficult, but can be confusing for students. A card game would provide them with a way to reinforce learning the facts about the explorers without sitting down and memorizing them. The slight competition involved in playing the game can also serve to facilitate learning.

Another thing that happens is that, as the students play this game, they gain skill in problem solving. They learn to predict which students have or don't have certain cards so that their guesses become more accurate.


Rules The rules of the game are as follow:

1. Shuffle the deck and deal 4 cards, one at a time, face down, to each player. Place the remainder of the deck in the center of the table. There are 44 cards in the deck; 11 sets of 4 explorers. The object of the game is to collect the most "Explorer's Logs" consisting of a set of 4 cards for each explorer.

2. The player at the dealer's left begins by calling on another player. That player is asked for a specific card that will help the caller complete an "Explorer's Log." The cards are designed so that there is one fact at the top that's marked with an open diamond, and three facts at the bottom marked by closed circles. The fact at the top is "your" card, and the facts at the bottom are the cards you can ask for from the other players.

3. If the player who has been called on has the card that was asked for, it must be given to the caller, and the caller continues asking for more cards. This continues until the caller asks someone for a card that they do not have. In this case, the player draws the top card frorn the deck and the turn passes to the next person on the left. If however, the caller draws the exact card that he asked for, his turn continues, and he keeps asking for cards.

4. When a player gets all 4 cards from one of the explorers, he or she has a complete log, and the cards should be placed face down in a pile in front of the player. Play continues until all of the cards have been gathered into logs. The player with the most completed logs at the end of the game is the winner.

 

Variation A variation that could be used as a whole class activity would involve having the teacher shuffle the cards and using them to review for a test. The class could be split into teams of about 4 students each, and the teams could be given a chance to identify the explorer when presented with a fact that the teacher draws from the deck. Opportunities to answer the question should be rotated, but if a team misses its question, the first team captain to raise a hand could gain an extra point by having their team answer correctly. If desired, extra points could also be earned by volunteering another fact about the explorer after a question has been answered correctly.


Deck Design As mentioned in the rules section, there are 11 sets of explorers. A set consists of 4 cards, each of which contains facts about the explorer. The information at the top of the card is preceeded by an open diamond, and that is considered the card the player has. The facts at the bottom have a closed dot in front of them, and are the cards that the player may call for from the other players or draw from the deck.

Card Design The backs of all of the cards would be the same, and would have a small, random fill pattern on them.

The fronts would be similar to the following example.


Design Process I chose this type of game for several reasons. I felt that the type of information that needed to be learned would be learned easiest if the students repeated it several times, and they are forced to do this by asking a specific player for a specific card. They aren't allowed to just ask if anyone has a Marco Polo, for instance. I also felt that some of the material would be retained simply by looking at the bottom of the card to see which facts other people might have.

Initially, I made the facts too long. When my daughter saw them, she told me she liked the way they looked, but she thought it would take too long to ask for the cards. I agreed, and reworded them to be as concise as possible.

The deck has 11 suits because with 11, the game takes from 10 to 15 minutes to play. You are more likely to get a winner than if you used a number like 9 that is divisible by 3. I consciously didn't color-code the cards into suits or include numbers on them because I wanted to force the students to ask for the cards by reading the information.

I would make the cards the size of a standard deck of cards because it seems to be an easy size for the students to handle. The basic rules of the game would be printed on a separate card that would be included with the game cards.

The game was initially designed in Microsoft Word 5.0, but I think it would be easier to set up the cards using Hypercard 2, so that's the format I'll use when I finally get a classroom and produce the game.