Country Set



by Artie Pajak

Artie works as a Graduate Assistant in the Instructional Media Lab. When he grows up, he wants to be an educational software designer. Until then, he'll continue to spend his late nights working on projects and watching SportsCenter.

Instructional Objective The learners will be able to name and identify the countries of the world and the continents in which they are located.


Learners/Context The learners include anyone with an interest in world geography. It is intended for four or more players, ages 10 and up. The game can be used in elementary, middle, or high school social studies classes to teach facts about the countries of the world.


Rationale World geography isn't exactly the most exciting subject when it's taught in today's schools. It seems that many times it's hardly taught at all. Since U.S. citizens are perennially among the world's worst students of world geography, this game provides a fun, competitive atmosphere to help them learn an increasingly important subject as we approach the "Global Village" concept.


Rules This game is based on the card game "Set!"

In this game, a set consists of 3 cards whose countries all lie on the same continent OR all lie on different continents.

  1. Choose a dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck of cards and places 12 cards in the middle of all players with Side 1 face up. The dealer should arrange the cards into four rows of three cards each. The dealer then places the remaining cards aside.
  2. The first player that believes he/she can name 3 countries that lie on the same continent OR 3 countries that lie on 3 different continents yells "Set!"
  3. That player must then identify the set of 3 cards, name the countries shown on the cards, and tell which continent each country lies on. The player may then check his/her responses by flipping the cards over.
  4. If the player is correct, he/she claims the set by picking up the set of 3 cards and placing them before him/her. The dealer then draws 3 cards from the top of the remaining deck and places them into the vacant spots. The next round begins with Step 2.
  5. If the player is incorrect, the cards remain in their positions (Side 1 face up) and play continues with Step 2. The player who answered incorrectly may NOT participate for the remainder of the round. (A round is considered complete when any player correctly identifies a set or when no player correctly identifies a set.)
  6. In the case where no player correctly identifies a set, one of the players should flip over each of the 12 cards and state the country name and continent aloud to all players. The dealer then picks up the 12 cards, mixes them back into the remaining deck and deals 12 more cards with Side 1 face up. The next round begins with Step 2.
  7. Play continues until all cards in the deck have been used.
  8. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins!


Variations Three variations of Country Set are:

1. In addition to naming countries and continents, have players name capital cities, currencies, religions, languages, neighboring countries, or major products before claiming a set.

2. For classroom use, or when there is a very large group of players, have the players form smaller groups and divide the cards into 6 decks by continent -- North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. (Combine Australia, Antarctica, and the Pacific island nations to form Oceania.) Give each group of players one deck. Have players name countries and capital cities and/or currencies, religions, languages, neighboring countries, or major products before claiming a set.

3. Institute a "Challenge" rule, where any player can challenge the first player who yelled "Set!" if he/she believes the first player is incorrect. If the first player is correct, he/she claims the set and the challenger must sit out the next round. If the first player is incorrect, the challenger must try to claim the set. If the challenger is correct, he/she claims the set. If the challenger is incorrect, he/she must sit out the next 2 rounds.


Deck Design The deck includes one card for each country in the world (approximately 200 at press time). The deck is not color coded so learners cannot make identifications based on color.

Card Design


Design Process In my first design, side 2 was blank and side 1 had a country outline and a number. The number could be looked up on a reference card that would list all the countries along with the information on side 2 of the final design. I decided against that design for two reasons:

1. If the reference card were lost, the players would have a more difficult time verifying the information.

2. It's easier to flip over a card and check the information than to look it up in a chart.

I added side 2 to the design because more information about the countries fits on individual cards as opposed to having all the information about all countries on 1 or 2 reference cards. Side 2 also has a map of the continent so that learners can see where each country lies in relation to other countries on the continent. The map also makes side 2 more visually interesting.

I also considered making the "Challenge" rule a part of the original game, but I wanted to leave the original game as basic as possible so learners could think without the pressure of a "Challenge." I decided to allow the players to decide if they wanted to add that level of complexity to their games.

Finally, with the current design, learners can: