Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Web Wednesday: Online Gaming for US History

The downside to being in full time grad school is obvious - It's a *ton* of work! On top of the ton of work that teaching is by itself!

There is a definite upside though. My concentration is on Digital Teaching and Learning, which means that about half of my assignments have me scouring the Internet for resources that can be used in the classroom! That gave me an idea: I should SHARE all of these resources with you! And so, Web Wednesday is born! My plan is to post one new website, game, or web 2.0 tool every Wednesday that I am incorporating into my teaching.

So without further ado...

This week's find is one I'm really excited about for teaching US History. Our Social Studies standards cover US history from Native Americans to the Civil War. That makes this AMAZING online game perfect for my class! We all know that our students *love* video games, and anytime there is a way to incorporate gaming into my instruction, I get excited about it. At 5th grade, it's sometimes tough to find games that have true educational value and are still fun and engaging for students. I think this one fits the bill!

Mission-US ( is a multimedia game that immerses students in historical events. Students take on the role of a child or teen living in a specific time in history. In these roles, students are challenged with a variety of tasks that their character would have needed to complete. They are exposed to elements of daily life in the time period, and witness historical events "firsthand" as their character. You do have to register, but everything is completely FREE!

There is a wealth of information on their Educators page about how each mission applies to your standards, how to incorporate the games in class, and overviews of each specific part of the games. Additionally, there are enrichment activities and writing prompts to enhance the impact of these games in your classroom. There are currently three missions, with plans to add more this summer.

Mission 1 is perfect for my students right now, so it's the one I have focused my attention on. This mission is set in and around Boston in 1770 and follows 14-year-old Nathaniel as he leaves his family home to become an apprentice for a notable printer in Boston. Students learn about Loyalists and Patriots, the Sons of Liberty, and the Boston Massacre. From their teacher's guide:
"As Nat, students playing the Mission will be charged with a number of tasks while working to gain the apprenticeship. From selling advertisements to merchants, to confronting soldiers patrolling the wharves, to learning pro-Patriot songs to play on his pennywhistle, Nat’s activities will introduce the player to the full strata of colonial society and the growing tensions within it. Students will also examine primary source documents from the period as they work to gain Mr. Edes’s respect, and interact with historical figures such as Phillis Wheatley and Paul Revere.

During the Mission, students will play through several “days” of Nat’s apprenticeship, ranging from February 21, 1770 to March 6, 1770.  Each day in Nat’s life focuses on different elements of the growing tensions between the colonists and the Crown...Regardless of which paths students choose, Nat witnesses the Boston Massacre on the night of March 5, 1770. In the aftermath of the Massacre, Nat will be forced to make decisions about where his allegiances lie.  Ultimately, it will be up to the player to determine whether or not Nat continues his apprenticeship and joins the Patriot cause in Boston, runs away to sea, or remains loyal to the Crown."
Mission 2 follows a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky on her journey to escape slavery to Ohio. They discover that life in the North is still dangerous and very difficult for escaped slaves. Students learn about the Fugitive Slave Act.

In Mission 3, students become a Northern Cheyenne boy during the time of Westward Expansion. Topics covered include the conflict between the US government and the Northern Cheyennes, the forced relocation of Native Americans, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and more.

I am really excited about getting to use this site with my students when we get back from Spring Break! I hope you find ways to use it in your classrooms too!


***If you're still reading and you're teaching the American Revolution, head over to my Facebook Page today for a flash freebie that you can use with your Revolution unit! Click on the Fan Freebies button at the top to grab your copy. It'll only be free until tomorrow morning, so get it quick!***


  1. Love that first mission! Will have to incorporate that into my unit! :)

  2. What a fantastic site! Thank you so much for sharing! I also love your Facebook Freebie!! :)
    A Tall Drink of Water

  3. We used this today and my kids LOVED it. They loved it so much that some of them actually chose to do this site when we had some free time. That in itself is HUGE! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'


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