Children love playing games. According to the book Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, play is how young children learn. I loved this book – the ideas really resonated with me. Of course children learn more when they are playing, not just repeating memorized information to please an adult.
To teach my children about world geography and family history at the same time, I made a personalized “where in the world” type game for our family to play. We’ve played the game a few times now, and I’m surprised by how well my 6-year old remembers the facts – including where Japan is located and what its flag looks like!
Whether you want to help your child learn about places that are important to your family’s history, or teach them about jurisdictions and repositories, this family map game can be customized to fit your objectives. I originally saw the idea for a Family History Map Game at Little LDS Ideas by Sheena. She created simple printables that I used to create trivia question cards, and has links to printable world and US maps.
We enjoyed it so much that I’m planning to share the idea at RootsTech in my presentation with Melissa Finlay and Emily Schroeder entitled Kid Genealogists: Inspiring the Next Generation (this is a link to our class webpage with syllabus and links). As I’ve been preparing to share this idea, I came up with a tutorial for creating your own map gameand a worksheet for brainstorming the trivia questions.
How to Create Your Own Family Map Game
1. Choose learning objectives
There are many reasons you may want your children to become familiar with the geography of your family’s past. Hopefully between their studies at school and home they will be able to form a strong identity and become informed citizens ready to make decisions about government, politics, the environment, and places. With these end goals in mind, here are some learning objectives that I came up with:
Family geography: children will become familiar with the places important to your family.
You can probably think of several questions right now about places that are important to your family! Like, “where were your parents married?” for starters. Whenever we drive by the LDS temple where my husband and I were married, we make sure to point it out to our children and discuss that our family started there.
Historical themes: children will learn how historical events and other events in history affected where your ancestors lived and how your ancestors affected history.
My son knew his great-grandpa who served in the Korean War, and knows a great story of bravery about another great-grandfather who served in the navy during WWII. When we discuss these stories, he learns valuable context for historical learning. He learns how his ancestors took part in historical events that changed the world and where they went to do so.
Genealogy skills: children will learn about repositories, boundary changes, and jurisdictions.
I want my children to have some basic genealogy skills so that they can continue the work that is so important to me. Some of the most basic parts of genealogy revolve around knowing about boundaries of places, how they changed, and which entities hold the records of interest to your family.
2. Create trivia questions
Now that we have identified some objectives for what kids will learn as we play, we can start creating the actual trivia questions! Here is a two page document you can use to help you brainstorm questions within the three objectives above.
Click to download the document: Creating Questions for your Family Map Game
Make sure the answer to each question is a place so children can practice pointing places out on the map.
3. Gather materials
For the game, you’ll need:
-Question cards (customizable cards available at Sheena’s website here). I created cards with multiple choice answers to make it easier for my younger kids, but you might not want to do this if your kids are older. The answer should also be indicated on the card.
-Different colored place markers – could be buttons, pushpins (without the points) from the Where in the World game, plastic gingerbread men from CandyLand, paperclips, or these magnetic push pins.
How to play:
1. Each player takes some place markers of the same color. Stack the question cards face down.
2. Choose someone to be the first dealer (i.e. question reader)*. The dealer chooses a card and reads the question to the player on their left. The player then puts their place marker on the state/country/place that answers the question.
3. If correct, the player keeps the question card.
4. If incorrect, the dealer shows the correct answer and puts the card on the bottom of the pile of cards.
5. The person to the left of the dealer is now the dealer. Everyone takes turns being the “dealer” and reading the questions to the player on their left.
6. When all the cards are gone, count up the number of cards. Whoever collected the most cards wins!
*If the kids are young, Mom or Dad or another adult might want to be the question reader for the whole game, or you could team up and have Mom on one team and Dad on the other team to help with reading.
Download the instructions here: Family Map Game Play Instructions
Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek – Great book about how young children learn through play.
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