Is it any surprise that they're a major part of our almost-13-year-old daughter's homeschooling experience as well?
That's why I'm taking part in the iHomeschool Network's "5 days of..." Hopscotch series this week with a look at 5 days of video-game learning.
Today, we're talking about the ways modern technology is helping us learn about the past.
Video games for history and geography
Disclosure: While a couple of affiliate links are included in today's post, as with the rest of this series, everything on this list is here because we highly recommend it!Let me just start out by saying I'm not a history buff. At. All. Sarah actually really enjoys history - everything from Native Americans to the Titanic to Elizabethan England. As we've delved into the topics that she's most interested in, I admit, I was surprised to find her requesting some related video games. These were things she knew about, some from friends, some from public school, that I wasn't familiar with.
- Hidden Mysteries games - This series, for either PC, Wii or Nintendo DS, is in some ways comparable to my favorite Facebook time-waster, Hidden Chronicles, where you find objects in a whole bunch of different scenes. Except, guess what? THIS series comes complete with serious history facts, as well as some bonus logic puzzles that you really have to think to work through! the Civil War and Buckingham Palace combo pack, I think at our library's discount media sale, for something like a dollar. And Sarah loved them! She was telling me all about letters written from Antietam and how the Changing of the Guard works! For Christmas, she asked for and received another combo pack, this one featuring her favorite historical topic from the past year. It was a Titanic and White House set, again surprisingly fact-filled. There are some more in this series I'd like to pick up after trying these discs - Notre Dame and the Salem Witch Trials among them! I think they'd really spark Sarah's interest, because she can and does play the others for more than an hour at a time!
- The Oregon Trail - C'mon, you didn't play this in the fourth grade obsessively, like I did, scrambling to earn computer time in class so you could sit on that ridiculous plastic chair and look at that boxy screen full of wagons and oxen?? OK, nostalgia time is over, but this truly is a great game straight out of history. Apparently now you can get various computer versions of this, as well as a 3DS and Wii version, and even apps for your phone. (There's a whole list here.)
- More classics - The Amazon Trail and Galleons of Glory were two other titles I played, and that you can still find (especially if you're tech-savvy; there are online emulators that work great for both.)
- Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? - This is a "classic" that's gotten new life both as a Facebook game and for more modern computer systems. An INCREDIBLE geography reference - you will learn where Myanmar is or was, where Burkina Faso is or was, and where a whole host of other neat-sounding world places are. And it's actually fun - not "so educational" that your kids will roll their eyes at you. (I'm a little bit guilty of trying to go that route at times, and Sarah will tell you that "Math Circus is just math with ugly clowns.") This one, she enjoys. Even though we have to look up almost every clue, we do it together and have a good time researching!
Wikipedia even has what I think is pretty cool - a list of video games with historical settings. I wouldn't suggest there's a year's worth of curriculum in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which is mentioned there, but some of the American Girl ones listed sound pretty intriguing, especially since we're reading several of those book series now!
The rest of the seriesSunday: Why "All my kids want to do is play video games!" isn't such a bad thing (introduction)
Monday: Virtual friends, virtual art: Video games for social skills and creativity
Tuesday: Digital currency: Video games for math
Wednesday: Pixels and punctuation: Video games for writing and spelling
Today: Bringing the past to life: Video games for history and geography
Friday: Our fitness is pretty funny-looking: Video games for physical education
More five-day funThis post is part of the iHomeschool network's January 2013 "5 days of..." Hopscotch series.
You can see how some of my fellow bloggers are spending their five days here.
We're sharing everything from tips and tricks for getting out of debt to using posterboard in your homeschool, from catapults to eating whole foods.
We sure are an eclectic group - I hope you'll check out more!
And if you're into the things we do in our family homeschool, check out my previous "5 days of..." series, 5 days of real-world math.