La Historia de México

by Mary Jewell

Mary Jewell is a graduate student in Educational Technology at San Diego State University. She is also a teacher of US History and Spanish at Memorial Academy Charter School, in the San Diego Unified School District.

Instructional Objective
The learners will be able to review the major events in Mexican history and the order in which the events occurred. Non-native Spanish speakers will also practice understanding written Spanish. They should also be able to enjoy this activity and enjoy working within the group of players.

This game is designed for students completing a study of Mexican history, specifically 8th graders in Spanish for Native Speakers classes at Memorial Academy. It could also be used for students of Mexican history at any level.

The game is designed to be played as a reinforcement activity at the end of the unit on Mexican History. It may be played independently during class time by groups of students who have earned free time, or it may be used in coordination with other review activities.

A game is an appropriate format for this type of scenario because it provides an enjoyable way to review information. The rules of the game encourage students to think independently about the sequence of events, then discuss their conclusions. The game is very easy to play, and the familiar rules allow students to begin play immediately and concentrate on the content, not the mechanics of play.

Two to four students may play at the same time.

The game is played in the following manner:

  1. The object of the game is to get two runs of three and four cards representing the sequential order of the events from Mexican history. The dealer deals seven cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down and the top card is turned over to begin the discard stack. Moving from youngest player to oldest, the first player chooses either the discarded card or a card from the face down pile. The player determines which cards to keep and discards the extra card. The first player to create two sequences of three and four cards places the cards down. The events must be in order, but they do not necessarily have to be in sequence. For example, as long as the cards the player has are in order, there may be gaps in their sequence. The other players refer to a reference card lists all of the events and the dates on which ocurred to ascertain whether the player is correct. If the player who first lays down the two sequences of cards is correct, she wins the game. If a time limit is set instead, the player with the most cards in sequence at the end of the period wins.


  2. The Use of Free Cards. A player may use one of the free cards to fill in a missing event in a sequence. For example, if a player has 4 cards in a sequence and only 2 cards in the other run, she may use the free card to fill in the missing event in the 2 card sequence. A player may use only one free card per game.

Card Design
Each card has an important event from Mexican history, written in Spanish, at the top of the card and a picture or graphic about that event in the lower portion of the card. An Aztec-theme border is also present on the front of each card. The cards are the same size as regular playing cards, and have the title of the game La Historia de México and the same Aztec border on the back. The two free cards have the same back as the other cards, and have Tarjeta Grátis (free card) on the front.

Deck Design There are 52 cards in the deck. Fifty of the cards are event cards, and two are free cards.

Sample Cards

Graphics and lettering will be more clear when professionally produced.

Design Process
My students spend several months each year studying Mexican history. We constantly review and reinforce the material as we go through it, but we do not have a good tool to help them review the whole unit. Because they enjoy the independence, competition, and social interaction of games, the review of Mexican history seemed to lend itself well to this kind of card game.

I am often dismayed by the preoccupation of many in the teaching profession with forcing students to memorize dates. I see more value in helping students understand the general sequence of events in history and the relationships between these events. For example, the exact year in which Cortes came to Mexico is not as important as the relationship between this event and the causes of the Mexican Revolution. This is one reason there are no dates on the event cards. In my opinion, knowing that Cortes came to Mexico before the Revolution is sufficient, at least for the basic level of solely factual knowledge. The second reason there are no dates on the cards is to prevent students from focusing on the numbers without noticing the events.

The pictures on the cards are in the lower portion so that students may easily see the events which they need to put in sequence. Their fingers are not covering up important information.
References The Course of Mexican History (1987). Oxford University Press: New York and Oxford.

Last updated by Mary Jewellon November 18, 1996.

Return to the Card Game Table of Contents.

Educational Technology 670, Fall 1996.