Country Talk

by Gina Chestnutt

Gina is a graduate student in Educational Technology.

Instructional Objective The learners will be able to identify countries by their official languages, capital cities and their respective continents.

Learners/Context The learners are students in the 8-12 age group who are interested in learning basic facts about countries.

The game is designed to be played during or after a unit in world geography or social studies where students can make an association between a country's location and the official language.

Rationale A game is an appropriate format for this situation because it's a fun way to learn facts about a country without the perception that it is drill and practice. It can be easily adapted into a cooperative learning curriculum or used as an enrichment activity. Students will become more aware of world events if they can cue into a few key facts about a country.

The Object of the Game:

To be the first player to discard all of the cards in their hand.


This game is a variation of UNO.

Number of Players: 2 to 4

The game is played in the following manner:

  1. The youngest player deals the first round. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals seven cards to each player, one at a time and face down.
  2. The dealer then places the rest of the deck, face down in the center of the playing space. This is called the stack. The dealer takes the top card from the stack and places it face up next to the stack. This will be a discard pile.
  3. Each player organize their category cards by the country's language, capital city, or continent.
  4. Starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player takes a turn in a clockwise direction.
  5. In turn, each player must play from their hand, either a category card or a function card that matches the country, capital city, language or continent on the face up card on the discard pile.
  6. If a player does not have a match, then the player picks a card from the stack and the play moves on to the next player.
  7. A player who discards all of their cards first, wins and the game is over.

Deck Design There are a total of 100 cards: 72 CATEGORY Cards and 28 FUNCTION cards. The categories are: country, language, capital cities and continents. Each category card has a graphic of a country, with its corresponding name printed in the center and its official language printed at the top or bottom.

Each of the 24 countries is represented by three cards; one for language only, one for language and capital city, and the one for language and continent. Playing the function cards allows the players to alter the strategy or the direction of the game play.

Category cards

24 countries (3 categories each; language, capital city and continent)

Function Cards

4 STAR cards (the country and capital names are the same) When you play this card it skips the next player.

6 CONTINENT cards (1 Europe, 2 North America, and 3 South America cards) The player can designate a change in the continent category in play.

6 REVERSE DIRECTION cards (one for each of the six languages)

6 DRAW TWO cards (one for each of the six languages)

6 WILD cards (changes the category)



Design Process

I had first chosen my content area ; countries and ther official languages. Then, my 9 year old daughter and I, brainstormed ideas on card game formats. We decided UNO would be an appropriate format because a player could match categories by countries or languages. I tested this concept, and discovered the game was often stalled for lack of categories. In an effort to keep the game simple, and with an uncluttered card design, I added only two more categories; capital cities and continents. These additional categories supplied enough alternative matches to keep the game in play.

The choice of countries, languages and continents was determined by their global distibution. It was not always possible to find equal representation of each language by the number of countries and/or their distibution over the populous continents. One surprise I encountered, was that eventhough a large percentage of the world's population speaks chinese, few countries have designated it as their official language. In contrast, portuguese is the official language of at least four countries, yet the world population of portuguese speaking people is relatively small.

References World Book Encyclopedia (1981). Chicago, IL: World Book-Childcraft Internationl, Inc.

Last updated by Gina Chestnutt on September 28, 1995.

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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1995.