In my social studies class, we are learning about the Seven Years’ War (a.k.a. The French and Indian War) leading up to the next unit on the American Revolution. Now, I know history isn’t always that exciting to kids. There are lots of names, dates, places, and events to remember. What I try to do, is help my students develop an understanding of the context in which those events took place. All history written with bias, there’s no getting around it; what a good historian does is figure out the larger context around the events to give a clearer understanding.
Strategy, history, games
To make this unit fun, I have created a game like Risk, using a map of major battles from the Seven Years’ War, and laminated cut outs of blue soldiers (the French), red soldiers (the British), and brown Native Americans. The game is meant for pairs of students, and each pair needs a map, the soldier cutouts, and two six-sided die.
I wrote up a series of rules similar to Risk‘s rules, having a “placement” stage, a “moving” stage, and a “battle” stage. For each stage, the students write “orders” on a piece of paper. Each player writes the number of soldiers and location in each blank.
The orders for each stage should look like this:
Placement Stage: “I place _______ soldiers at _________.”
Movement Stage: “I move ________ soldiers from _________ to __________.”
Battle Stage: “I attack ___________ with _________ soldiers.”
Rules of Game Play
The game begins in the first stage, then moves on to stages 2 and 3 in order. I modified the game play a bit by moving from stage 3 (the battle stage) back to stage 2 (the movement stage). The “Placement stage” happens only once. Each player places a number of soldiers on the map at a specific location on the map.
The value for each piece as follows: one(1) soldier equals ten (10) troops, and one(1) Native equals five(5) allied warriors.
For the next stage, each player moves his/her soldiers from one place to another. In the “battle” stage, each player chooses a place to attack. Then both players roll their die and the winner is the player with the higher number. The losing player loses the number of soldiers equal to the value he/she rolled. Both players keep rolling until one side reaches zero.
The game moves from the third stage back to the second stage, and the players can only move soldiers that still are on the map. I wrote a rule stating that dead soldiers cannot return to the map on the next “movement” stage. After one side loses the battle, those soldiers are removed from the map, never to return (no respawning). When one side loses all of his/her players, the game ends.
Why play games?
Games make learning enjoyable for students, and actively engages them. This game is meant to help students understand how military commanders would use strategy and critical thinking, planning for offense and defense. It’s also meant to help students understand how territories in the New World were lost/gained, and develop a deeper understanding of the struggles important historical figures faced during their lives.
*I made the materials downloadable here. Feel free to try the game!