Today, I’m reviewing a fun educational game my kids have been able to use called Mayan Mysteries from Dig-It Games. We reviewed the online version, but there is also an iPad app available. The online program is available for $21.99 for a year’s subscription, with classroom licenses available for those studying in a traditional school setting.
The game teaches an impressive amount of content about archaeology and the Mayan culture using a fun game format. There are several games within the game, as students learn information about aspects of Mayan culture: worship, traditions, the calendar, the math system, writing, gender roles, and daily life. There are mapping activities, decoding games using the Mayan language and calendar, opportunities to identify and “collect” artifacts on simulated archaeological digs, and hidden object games, just to name a few of the activities. The whole experience is couched in a mystery story, so along the way, students are also engaged in collecting clues to help solve the mystery of the whereabouts of the notorious artifact thief, Ladrone.
After the first couple of scenes which use a comic book format, along the way, students learn from other kids who are on an archaelogical dig, and from the Mayan people they encounter as they travel back in time. When they arrive at a new “site” as marked on the map, they encounter a group of people they must interact with in order to find out more information. Clicking on some of the people introduces one of the games. Clicking on others displays some information to be learned, after which there is a quiz, which must be answered correctly or the player risks being raided by looters. Students are motivated to complete the quizzes because it is the only way to advance through the game and solve the mystery.
What do you think you had to be to have jade in your teeth?
- A priest
We have two minor complaints with our experience with this program. First, I think for us, it might have been better to access the program as an iPad app. Our sometimes slower internet speed meant we were staring at the “loading” screen quite a bit.
Second, my kids really objected to the introduction of the “spirit guides” who were introduced after the initial sections. These “spirit guides” presented themselves to the children in the game in the form of animals who were spirits and who had lived as people in previous lives. They had special powers and would take the children back in time so they could experience the Mayan world for themselves. Our kids have been sensitized to the introduction of these beliefs by some of the excellent materials we’ve covered in worldview studies, and it really affected their impression of the program as a whole After the session in which the spirit guides were introduced, I had to talk them into participating in the game once again.
With some parental guidance, however, I feel the program is worthy of consideration. During the time that we all worked on the game together, there was no reference to the spirit guides, except for the fact that the animal guide was in the picture as one of the characters we could click on and interact with for additional information. The guide then presented some of the story of his past life as a Mayan king.
Overall, the game was a lot of fun, and presents a lot of valuable and interesting information about Mayan culture and provides an excellent learning medium–perfect for us as we begin a focus on Ancient History in the upcoming school year. We may have to check out their program about the Ancient Romans!
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