Category: Teacher Resources

A Winter Wonderland for STEM Learning

Winter is a great time of year to get hands-on with STEM activities, science experiments, and more! Don’t let the cold keep you from making discoveries and learning about the way our world works with activities for all different weather and climates.

Snow Science!

winter science experiments

For something easy, think about demonstrating molecular structure through melting ice in different forms. STEAM Powered Family has a great experiment which involves packing ice, snow, and liquid water into jars to see which will end up with the most liquid.
No snow in your area? Try making your own to experiment with, even if you can’t make enough to make a snowman or have a snowball fight. Left Brain Craft Brain offers a few different recipes for making snow.
For something a little more decorative, make a snowstorm in a jar or grow some crystals. A Dab of Glue Will Do has all the instructions for the former- it can teach kids how a snowstorm works without bringing them out into one! For crystal making, grab some pipe cleaners or a pine tree branch along with other ingredients listed on Little Bins for Little Hands.

Hot Cocoa and Sweets

Hot chocolate and winter stem

Of course, sometimes it gets too cold to do anything with the snow outside. On those days, try out one of these tasty science experiments that help your kids learn and make them feel like they’re getting a treat!
There are a lot of things you can do with hot chocolate, from having a race to making it bubble up in surprise. You can also make hot chocolate themed slime to play around with.
Candy canes are another one to play around with. Test how fast different types dissolve or how fast they dissolve in different temperatures of water. It’s even possible to re-bend candy canes into different shapes through an experiment.

Stay Indoors with STEM Games

ExoTrex2 screenshot from stem game based learning

Our educational games are always evergreen, making them the perfect STEM activity for cold winter days or any other time of the year! Pick up the ExoTrex series for your kids to explore the galaxy, learning more about the way space works. It’s a great supplement to STEM activities in any season.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Easy Autumn Science Experiments

Autumn is the perfect season for science. The leaves change color, fall fruits and vegetables are harvested, and everybody gets a little spooky for Halloween. Using all these characteristics of fall, we’ve compiled several ideas for science experiments to carry out with your students or your kids.

Not every experiment will work for every age group, but we hope you find something to bring some seasonal STEM into education!

Easy Experiments with Leaves

Leaves and science experiments

Leaves are plentiful and often beautiful during the autumn season. As for why that is, use a science experiment to help your students understand why the leaves change color during the fall. There’s nothing quite like seeing something in practice.

If you’ve got kids or students who are more creative types, set them to making leaf people. They learn about how to preserve leaves at the same time. Instead of the beautiful colors fading to brown and the leaf itself getting crunchy, you’ll get fun leaves to stick up on the walls of the classroom or a fridge at home.

Glow in the Dark Science

Glow in the dark science experiments for fall

Get a little spooky in honor of Halloween and make some glow-in-the-dark projects with students. Make glow-in-the-dark pumpkins for an afternoon of fun and your scary decorations out of the way. It also gets rid of the mess of carving pumpkins, meaning that there’s less set-up and clean-up to take care of ahead of time.

If you’d rather have the traditional jack-o-lantern experience, there are still ways to get into glow-in-the-dark science experiments too. Make art with glowing exploding paint bags or glowing bathwater for the little ones (especially on one of the remaining warm days of the season).

Apple Science Experiments

Science experiments with apples

Apples are the fruit of autumn. Apple picking alone can be a fun time to have with the family, but adding some simple science on top can be even better. Make an exploding apple-cano for some excitement, or use toffee apples to examine changes of state and get a delicious treat.

For something even simpler, ask your students to conduct science experiments to see why apples float or why they turn brown

Head for Space with ExoTrex

exotrex 2 game space ship

If it’s too cold to go out and do science, stay in and explore the outer reaches of the solar system in our ExoTrex series. ExoTrex teaches players what makes a planet hospitable for humans. As you’re experiencing the changing of the seasons, appreciate what makes our Earth so special.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Educational Conference Calendar Highlights

Conferences can be a great way to meet new peers and keep up with the latest in educational trends. Here, we highlight just a few educational conferences from this school year that you might consider paying attention to or even attending. Also, we provide links to more complete calendars for even more options to choose from

iNACOL

educational conference Inacol for transforming learning

The Symposium is an annual conference and a leading event for “K-12 competency based, blended and online learning.” By attending the conference, you will gain access to expertise in these areas, along with many networking opportunities. Within the symposium’s programming, attendees choose a specific track to help guide them through the more than 200 available sessions to what they need. It’s a great educational conference to pick up new ways to teach material!

This year, iNACOL takes place in Nashville from October 21-24. You can still register for this year’s conference, although the early bird deadline passed in July. Find out more on the website.

FETC

FETC educational conference logo

FETC tailors itself to the needs of “an increasingly technology-drive education community.” While attendees may come from different backgrounds and possess different skills, they all come to the educational conference to meet with others interested in ed tech. Like other conferences, FETC offers specialized tracks to get you to sessions that align with your professional goals.

Registration is open for the January 27-30, 2019 conference in Orlando, FL. Find out more on the website

SXSW EDU

SXSW educational conference poster

While SXSW might be better known for its film or music festivals, they do also hold a conference for educators. It features presentations and programming with educational thought leaders, traditional sessions, films and more. Some of the sample thematic tracks include language learning, accessibility & inclusion, emerging tech, and student agency. No matter your own educational goal, SXSW EDU is an educational conference that can provide you with resources to get there.

This school year’s program is being held in Austin TX from March 4-7, 2019. Registration rates increase on September 14, 2018, so think about reserving your place ASAP! Find out more details on the website.

More Educational Conferences

While these lists provide dates mostly for 2018, the conferences listed are yearly events, and you can find more information by going to the linked websites for each one. 

Check out these lists from The Edvocate, Getting Smart, and Where Learning Clicks.

You Might Also Be Interested In


Game-Based Learning in the Classroom: How to Use Our Excavate! Games

As the new school year begins, think about adding something new to the curriculum. Game-based learning can be intimidating if you’ve never used it before, but it can also be extremely effective. Our biggest game-based learning product, the Excavate! games, offer detailed of archaeological explorations into several different ancient cultures. 

If you’re interested in our Excavate! series, but you aren’t sure how to go about incorporating them into your classroom, we understand! Read on for a summary of how the games work, how to teach them, and why you should use them.

Six Excavate! Games, Six Civilizations

Excavate! games Rome screenshot at baths

Excavate! comes in six civilizations, all covered within world history curriculum, meaning that the series can be used throughout the year. Each game focuses in on 3-4 important spots for students to engage in virtual archaeology. Each of these locations reveals something new about the culture and practices of that civilization.

After choosing a location to start, students use a variety of archaeologist’s tools to uncover the artifacts from beneath the ground. They must be careful not to break artifacts by using the wrong tool; otherwise, they will need to start the dig again. When a stratum (or layer) is completely excavated, students examine their discovered artifacts. Through a series of questions, they determine what each artifact must have been used for and what the artifacts say about that society. With this done, students submit a fill-in-the-blanks report, summarizing their findings.

The process repeats for each stratum, uncovering artifacts deeper in the ground. When a location is finished, the students make a final report on the location as a whole and what they learned. From there, they move on to the next location.

Not only do these games allow students to have fun pretending to be archaeologists, they also reinforce learning through multiple methods. This ensures students understand the key points from each location. By the end of the game, students have gained a basic understanding of a culture as a whole. 

All six civilizations- Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Byzantine Empire, MesoAmerica, and Mesopotamia– can be bought separately or together in a bundle. Excavate! MesoAmerica can also be played in Spanish.

Complete Lesson Plans

Excavate! games Egypt city screenshot

Each Excavate! game comes with complementary guides and lesson plans to use in conjunction with the game. Game-based learning offers the greatest benefit when paired with a knowledgeable and capable teacher and more traditional lessons. 

The basic Excavate! guide walks you through how the game works while the game specific guide provides answers and explanations for the questions asked in the game. This makes sure that teachers are prepared to answer any question that students may have while they play through the game. Along with the guide, we also offer two accompanying resources.

The Inquiry Analysis and Artifact Based questions offer supplementary learning to the digital games. The products work with or without the digital game. Incorporate them, before, duing or after playing the game based on recommendations in the Teacher Guide and what works for you. With these lesson plans, you won’t have to come up with your own. At most, you’ll simply be adjusting what already exists.

Links to all of these can be found on each game’s download page.

For Rome and Egypt, the Excavate! Card Game is also available to help test student knowledge retention. Students find connections between people, places, and artifacts of the ancient civilization, using what they learned during playing the Excavate! digital game. 

Not Just for Social Studies

Excavate! games MesoAMerican screenshot

While the obvious place for the Excavate! games would be in a social studies classroom, that’s not the only place that they’ve been used in schools. Teachers from gifted and special ed classrooms have also used our games and given us positive feedback.

Susan Honsinger (a teacher from Florida) used Excavate! in her gifted classroom to pair with their explorations of ancient cultures. The students engaged with the lessons and dived deep into exploring the artifacts.

“I see that the Excavate! games are embedded in student memory, and the facts and images they found there are being referred to in subsequent classes.” 

Samantha McClusky (a special education teacher from Arkansas) used the Excavate! games with her class as well. She found that the interactive learning experience helped her students get engaged in the class and work together as a group.

“Learning through the game based format really connects learners of the 21st century to education, and helps them discover things that they may not have been interested in…”

Even if your curriculum doesn’t directly relate to learning about ancient cultures, Excavate! helps teach critical thinking and analysis skills that are useful in any class.

Back to School Special

Screenshot Excavate! games

If you’re considering using Excavate! in your classroom, there’s no better time to grab yourself a copy. Use the discount code BACKTOSCHOOL18 on our online store to receive 30% off any and all Excavate! products. If you’re looking to buy in bulk for a whole set of classes or a whole school, feel free to contact us at info@dig-itgames.com so we can help set up bundle pricing that works for you.

The Excavate! games also are available to purchase on Apple, Android, and Amazon products in addition to working on the computer. Check out the official page for all options, and contact us for any information you need.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Back to School: Advice for Teachers

Back to school season is here in full force! There’s a lot that teachers need to get ready, even before students start entering the building. The checklist can include everything from setting up the classroom, to finalizing the year’s overall curriculum, to making sure that each student and their particular needs are accommodated. On this post, we’ve collected many resources that will help you start the school year right.

Preparing the Classroom

back to school classroom

Making sure that the classroom provides both a welcoming space and is optimized to help students learn is a difficult balancing act. Of course, some teachers deal with keeping their class on a cart and going from room to room. But if you happen to be lucky enough to get your own space, there are plenty of tips for making sure it’s the best space it can be.

Edutopia recently published an article on flexible classrooms. While research on their impact on learning remains scarce, what research exists shows promising results. Flexibility and ownership of the room are important tools to help academic progress, right up there with basics like air quality and temperature. 

If you can’t change the space itself, you can at least give the room a bit of decoration. Not only does it make the room more interesting for students, it makes the room a more welcoming environment for you too! You might consider posters with good inspirational quotes or famous historical figures from your subject. If you’re feeling crafty, decorate your classroom with some DIY tips to make the room all your own. 

Getting Ready for Students

students back to school

The best offense is a good defense. To put that another way, the best way to be prepared later down the line is to be ready to go from the start. Know what students you have coming in and prepare for any special accommodations they require. Know your general classroom policies ahead of time too and remember to communicate these rules to the students. How will you deal with absences, late work, or snow days? Have answers to these questions before they come up!

These may seem basic, particularly if you’ve taught before, but take some time to reflect on how your policies worked last year. If they seemed to work, great! However, if they could improve, give some thought on how to change them up to be best for you and the students. Taking the time to reflect on the previous year during the summer can be incredibly useful.

The First Day Back to School

back to school advice for teachers

The first day is a teacher’s chance to make a good first impression and also set students on the right path towards collaboration and respect. Icebreakers can be a great way to, well, break the ice! Depending on the age, students might respond differently to this strategy, but it’s all a matter of offering an icebreaker that fits their maturity level. Check out Icebreaker Ideas to find one that’s right for you.

If you have trouble learning names, making nametags can be an easy, relaxing activity for the first day back to school. Try to keep quizzing yourself to get the names down pat. No matter the age and no matter the size of the class, students appreciate it when instructors know their name.

Think About GBL

Summer Gaming List 7: Dig-It! Games

If you’ve yet to jump on the game-based learning train, there’s no better time to find out more about it than back to school time! We have a whole host of game-based learning products. Consider switching up your lesson plans to incorporate active learning and foster engagement in students.

Social studies teachers, take a look at our Excavate series and Roman Town 2. Science teachers, head over to the ExoTrex series. Even Spanish teachers can hop on board with our Spanish translation of Excavate! MesoAmerica.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Here’s a very thorough checklist that goes over even more ways to be prepared for the school year and save yourself time down the line.


Summer Advice for Teachers!

One of the perks of being a K-12 teacher is that long break over the summer! But it can also be a lot to handle at the same time. Not sure what to do with yourself over the summer? We’ve got some advice for teachers on what to do in terms of professional development and having fun over the break. 

Get Reading

Summer advice for teachers 1: get reading

Summer is the best time for reading, whether at home, at the beach, or anywhere else. Also, reading is one of the easiest ways to keep learning over the summer whether you’re reading about new educational strategies or just curling up with a good novel. Summer learning is as important for teachers as it is for students! Maybe you picked up a book already, but the internet offers tons of teacher suggestions if you haven’t. 

While it’s an older list, Teach for America suggests several books from classroom management tips (Like See Me After Class and Real Talk for Real Teachers) to simple beach reads. The Washington Post also offers a list based on teacher recommendations for books in many different categories. However, if you want to grab a few newer titles, join Education Closet’s 2018 summer reading challenge for teachers. They list a good variety of genres from the fictional drama of Little Fires Everywhere to the step-by-step guides of The Design Thinking Playbook.

Your reading doesn’t have to just come from books either. Educational blogs feature new ideas and research on a regular basis. Some of our personal favorites include Edutopia, Mindshift, and, of course, our own blog right here!

Learn from Others

Teacher advice for the summer 2: learn from others at conferences and workshops

Summer is full of small workshops and conferences with educational organizations and thought leaders in the community, both in-person and online. For instance, PBS TeacherLine hosts a lot of workshops for teachers at all grade-levels. Some have the added benefit of being self-paced, meaning you can break up your learning across the summer as it works for you.

Going out to learn from others can be as simple as a trip to a museum! Find an interesting museum in your area and make a day of it. This directory should be helpful when it comes to finding something interesting that’s within a reasonable distance.

Dig-It! attended the Games for Change Festival back in June and will be attending the Serious Play Conference. Come see us at the latter conference if you happen to be in the area!

Take a Break

Teacher advice 3- make sure to relax during the summer break

After a long school year, you’ve earned it! Make sure to take a few days to spend time with family or enjoy some precious alone time. Plan a vacation or a staycation, if you’d rather stay at home. Try cooking more or exploring nearby cities. Summer gives you plenty of time to plan and do whatever you want. Take advantage of it!

If you happen to be a gamer, make sure to check out our summer gaming list for suggestions or just click over to our games page for tons of educational products to test out. Have fun and plan for next year- that’s two birds with one stone!

Mostly, however, our advice for teachers is this: make sure you’re doing stuff you enjoy while you’ve got the time! That’s the important thing.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Educational Escape Rooms: Benefits, Examples, & More!

What is an Escape Room?

It’s pretty likely that you’ve at least heard of escape rooms. Companies that run escape room puzzles have begun to crop up everywhere across the country. Nowadays, nearly 2,000 escape rooms exist, compared to twenty-two at the end of 2014, according to Room Escape Artist. Generally, these puzzles limit themselves within physical spaces where players must work together to escape from the locked enclosure. Players find pieces, move contraptions, solve riddles and more to make it out.

However, all the fancy mechanisms simply make up the aesthetic flair. Actually, creating an escape room or escape room-style puzzle is easy. All you need is something to unlock and some puzzles that players must solve that will help them unlock that something. While it may not end up as fancy, anyone can make an escape room around any topic. Including teachers! And including you!

Educational Escape Room Benefits

educational escape rooms are great in classrooms

Escape rooms teach valuable life skills that are highly applicable to education. A student needs to practice teamwork, time management, problem solving, focus under pressure, and respect. Escape rooms encourage all these valuable traits. Additionally, the puzzles that make up an escape room can be created around a theme which correlates to the class it’s presented in.

Of course, the implementation itself proves challenging sometimes as teachers must grapple with standards, classroom size, and class period length. Yet, there are a number of ways to combat this through using boxes instead of the room itself or using pre-made escape rooms from educational escape room companies.

“The concept of meaningful gamification is not to provide external rewards, but rather to help participants find a deeper connection to the underlying topic,” writes Scott Nicholson, a professor of game design and development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. Escape rooms provide motivation and give students a reason to try and understand and connect with the material.

Find Resources for Your Classroom

For making your own escape room, try out this advice from Classcraft. It has tips about how to use the physical space, how to make puzzles, how to order puzzles and more. Some subjects are harder to design than others since math has a lot of opportunities for puzzles and social studies less. However, it is possible to design for any subject.

Many companies also offer pre-made escape rooms that can be easily implemented into classrooms. Breakout EDU (which we talked about on a blog post before) is a great resource for finding games that can be brought to any subject, complete with provided locks and boxes for students to work with. The Escape Classroom is another option (they also have a mystery-style workshop!) and Lock Paper Scissors has simpler printable guides to use for easier set-up.

Educational Games Are Great Too!

Escape the room or catch a thief

Our educational games were designed with C3 standards in mind for math, social studies, and STEM classes. While not as physical as escape rooms, bringing game-based learning in to the classroom is also a great way to give students motivation and engage them with learning. Our upcoming game Roman Town 2 casts the player as Team Q. They collect clues and solve puzzles to track down a thief rather than escape. However, the concept of solving problems remains the same!

If you’d rather get something for yourself, make sure to keep an eye on Roterra, our upcoming map-traversal puzzle game. Roterra will challenge your own mind and keep your brain working. Follow along with its development by signing up to be a beta tester on the game by going to the game page.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Game-Based Learning in the Classroom: What’s the Point?

Game-Based Learning in the Classroom

We think game-based learning pushes students to get more invested in learning. By utilizing games, teachers motivate students to try harder through competition and interactivity. However, the tools understandably intimidate many teachers new to using technology in the classroom. On this post, discover how game-based learning works in the classroom and how it benefits students. Also, find sources to discover more about the subject.

What is Game-Based Learning?

Game-Based Learning in the classroom- what is it?

Game-based learning grows in popularity with each passing year. With an increasingly digital society, more and more teachers look for new ways to engage their technologically-minded students. Games provide a method for students to connect with their learning materials. Also, they offer a safe space for students to fail and learn from failure.

However, not all game-based learning experiences work for everyone. The definitions above help in understanding the basic concept, but an effective experience comes from a capable teacher. Rather than replacing teachers, educational games partner with good teachers to create an awesome lesson both fun and helpful. Games teach not only facts but skills. By virtue of being digital, games bring opportunities to have unique experiences that would be hard to replicate in physical form. Additionally, games provide a framework for assessing student performance in applying lessons. More diverse than straight tests, games gather impartial data on student performance that can be fed back to the teacher.

Bear in mind, different games work for different classes.

How Can I Use Game-Based Learning in the Classroom?

Game-based learning in the classroom - how to use it?

Flexible and varied, teachers use game-based learning in the classroom to achieve many goals. Games help teachers provide new material in an interesting way, conduct assessments, or motivate students to work harder. Clearly, the goal depends on the kind of class and the subject taught. By identifying the goal first, teachers tailor game choice towards these goals. That way, game-based learning offers the most benefit. Additionally, students enjoy it more when it feels purposeful in their education.

However, more importantly, games show success in meeting these educational goals.

What’s Good About Game-Based Learning?

Game-based learning in the classroom - what's good about it?

Game-based learning meets a variety of needs from teachers. More than half of teachers agree that game-based learning motivates low-performing and special education students. They get more involved in lessons and become more interested in learning. Read a teacher’s thoughts on how our Excavate! games gets her special-ed classroom interested in learning here. The review also touches on how game-based learning personalizes education. Other reasons cited above for using game-based learning include promotion of collaboration, independent learning, and the ability to deliver content from a distance.

Many games fall under national standards like Common Core. For example, our Excavate! games follow C3 standards for world history education. However, not every game works for standardized curriculum, so make sure the game works for your class.

What Do Other Teachers Say?

Game-based learning in the classroom - what do others think?

Many teachers welcome the tools into their classroom and find their students love it. Good educational learning developers provide frameworks for teachers to work with. For our Excavate! games and ExoTrex games, we offer free teacher’s guides and lesson plans to help use the games with students. Always make sure that you feel comfortable with a game before giving it to students. Game-based learning in the classroom starts with a good teacher. No matter how good the game, it needs a teacher to guide students through learning.

How to Find Out More?

The statistics quoted in this blog come from Level Up Learning, a national survey about teaching with games in K-8. We highly recommend giving the whole report a read. Also, we offer this report on digital game-based learning in secondary education as another sources of information. Just a quick search on the web brings up tons of information and options for learning more about educational games.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Teaching Tools for the Byzantine Empire

In the late 400s AD, the Roman Empire came to an end after a long time of fracture and fragmentation. What survived after the fall became known as the Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire. While certainly not as famous as Rome, the Byzantine Empire wielded formidable power up to the Middle Ages in Europe. Today, it remains an important part of world history curriculum. However, what are some teaching tools that can be used to get students excited about learning Byzantine history?

Check out this list of resources to discover new ways to spice up lesson plans!

Artifacts & Museums

While actually taking students to a museum can be difficult, many museums put their collections online where they are easily viewed. Using these artifacts, teachers can encourage their students to do research about ancient civilizations and learn about the culture by drawing conclusions about their stuff.

The Met provides essays about the history as well as the art of the Byzantine Empire. Along with its provided writing, the website hosts online features from Helen Evans on the art of the time. Students explore the artifacts and receive additional information on the development of art from an expert.

The Museum of Byzantine Culture in Greece provides an English site complete with pictures of their collection. The museum’s collection numbers more than 46,000 artifacts which date from the 2nd to the 20th century. Students can take close up looks at the detail in some of the pieces as well as read the history and use of each one.

Lesson Plans and Teacher Materials

Teaching tools for the Byzantine Empire

Mr. Donn is a great source for all units of world history, the Byzantine Empire being no exception. His website offers free powerpoints, maps, and templates which can be helpful for putting together lessons on the subject.

If you want to focus on one aspect of Byzantine history in particular, we recommend Justianian and Theodora. These two are the most famous leaders of the empire. As part of one of our series of Women’s History Month blogs, we collected resources for teaching about powerful female leaders of history. Theodora featured on this list. For lessons about her, head over to that blog to get the resources you need.

Multimedia Teaching Tools

Excavate! Byzantine portfolio image for social studies game

To really bring something engaging to lessons, consider making use of videos or games to draw in student interest. By mixing traditional lecture with these media sources, all kinds of learners are served and can connect with the material. Otherwise, they miss out or stay uninterested.

Extra History makes awesome series on all sorts of topics, but they have entire playlist of Justinian and Theodora, the two most famous rulers of the empire (as previously mentioned). In addition to their policies and reforms, the videos cover their origins and more personal aspects of their stories.

Of course, our own Excavate! Byzantine just came out recently, and it serves as a great tool for teaching about the daily lives of Byzantine citizens. Students dig up artifacts and analyze them in order to draw conclusions about Byzantine culture. This includes religion, economy, home life, and governmental structure. Apply C3 skills in this middle school social studies game that brings the ancient civilization of the Byzantine Empire to life through archaeology. For your convenience, Excavate! Byzantine works for Apple, Android, and HTML5.

Additionally, all the Excavate! games come with supporting teacher materials for using the games in class. For a complete lesson, make sure to check out the Teacher Guide, Artifact-Based Questions, and Inquiry Analysis Questions.


Hopefully, these resources will help in putting together new lessons on the Byzantine Empire for middle school students. If you have any questions about our products, know that you can always contact us.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Women’s History Month: Female Rulers from World History

World History and Women’s History Month

As we begin Women’s History Month 2018, we take a look back through world history to discover the powerful female rulers of ancient civilizations. In Egypt, Byzantium, and Maya, women served as pharaohs, empresses, and queens. Some made extremely important accomplishments for their respective civilizations.

Hatshepsut: The Female Pharoah

Women's History Month: Remembering HatshepsutHatshepsut’s reign as pharoah began in 1479 B.C. and lasted over two decades until 1458 B.C. She ruled for the longest out of any of Egypt’s female rulers. Egyptologists consider her to be the most successful female ruler in ancient Egypt. In fact, many consider her one of Egypt’s most successful rulers overall. However, after her death, others tried to erase most evidence of her reign.  This fascinating Ted Ed talk goes in to how her time as pharaoh was erased by those who succeeded her on the throne. Details about her life didn’t begin to arise until the 19th and 20th century and evolved over time to recognize her accomplishments. Our modern understanding of Hatshepsut is far different than it used to be.

The only portrayals of Hatshepsut as a woman come from her early years on the throne. Later on, statues and likenesses portrayed her as a man, complete with the traditional fake beard that many pharaohs wore. Ambitious building projects and a trading expedition to the land of Punt that brought back exotic goods like ivory and incense mark notable points of her reign.

Teach your students about Hatshepsut with this lesson plan comparing her rule to Ramses II from the UCI History Project. Alternatively, go through all of Egypt’s greatest rulers, including Hatshepsut with a lesson from PBS.

Theodora: Empress of Byzantine

Women's History Month: Remembering Theodora of ByzantiumTheodora rose to power after being born into the lowest class of Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) society. She began her life on the outskirts of the empire with her father, an animal trainer. After her father’s death, Theodora became an actress to support the family. However, this scandalous profession made it so Theodora had to scramble and seize every chance to move up in society. Her future husband Justinian began his life from similarly humble roots and changed a law forbidding his marriage to a former actress in order to marry her. Their origins are explained in this great Extra History video which also includes many more videos on parts of their reign.

The husband and wife ruled as equals. Theodora guided Justinian through religious unrest during his rule and passed laws to expand the rights of women. Even after her death, her influence remained evident in Justinian’s later rule where he continued to strive to help women and other persecuted groups.

Get your students to learn more about Theodora with a large amount of resources from Teachers Pay Teachers.

The Powerful Queens of Maya

Women's History Month: Remembering Queens of MayaWe learn more and more about the queens of Maya as time goes on, and much of their lives remain undiscovered. Lady Yohl Ik’nal is the first recorded female ruler in Maya history and one of a few to bear a full royal title. Also, Lady Six Sky oversaw the city of Naranjo, commissioning several monuments and engaging in conquest during her reign. Finally, Lady K’abel, whose likely tomb was discovered in 2012, served as queen and military governer of the Wak kingdom.

Whether or not the queens of Maya were sometimes “warrior queens” is still a subject of archaeological study. In 2014, sculptures discovered in Naachtun showed both kings and queens as conquering heroes. Either way, they likely wielded considerable power at points in the history of Maya

For a historical fiction account of the lives of Maya’s queens, try out the Mists of Palenque series of books. For a general lesson plan on Maya civilization, check out some Scholastic resources.

Discovering the Role of Women through Archaeology in our Excavate! Series

Excavate! Byzantine portfolio image for social studies game

While our Excavate! games don’t focus on specific rulers, each one explores the role of women in ancient societies. Learn more by playing Excavate! Egypt, Excavate! Byzantine, Excavate! Mesoamerica, or any of our other three civilizations! If we missed one of your favorite examples of female rulers from history in this Women’s History Month post, let us know!

Learn about women through history and more!
Play Excavate!

You Might Also Be Interested In: