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! 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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
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
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
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:
Local Archaeology: Discoveries, Education, and More!
Archaeologists discover new findings every day across the world. Here, we take a moment to highlight discoveries and opportunities for those interested in archaeology around the DC Metro area. Based in Bethesda, MD, we at Dig-It! Games always try to keep up with what’s happening in archaeology around us. Bigger finds often overshadow local archaeology. However, archaeologists find tons of interesting things around Maryland, Virginia, and DC.
Alexandria’s Big New Discovery
On the historic waterfront of Alexandria, archaeologists discovered the remains of two ships from the late 1700s or early 1800s. Just two blocks away, archaeologists found a similar ship at the Hotel Indigo site in late 2015. At the beginning of March, the City of Alexandria won a grant to preserve that ship from the Virginia Association of Museums. For these two new ships, examination and analysis still needs to take place. It has yet to be announced if these ships will be preserved.
Archaeologist discovered the ships on a site where developers JBG Smith and EYA are turning a former warehouse into townhouses and condos. The law of Maryland requires that developers have archaeologists on site whenever ground is disturbed.
“It wasn’t an unexpected discovery, especially since what we knew from the Hotel Indigo site,” Eleanor Breen, the city’s acting archaeologist, said. “I think there’s a high possibility of additional archaeological treasures to be found.”
We look forward to hearing about what those archaeological treasures might be! If you want, read the full story on the Washington Post for all the details about the excavation.
Local Archaeology Programs for Kids & Students
Do you know an aspiring archaeologist or just a kid who loves to dig? Around the DC area, you can find many opportunities for young excavators to learn the tools of the trade- literally! Check out these programs first to see if there’s a good fit for your student, child, or the whole family!
Archaeology in the Community, a Washington, DC, organization, aims to promote the study and understanding of archaeological heritage. In pursuit of this goal, they host public events, enrichment programs, and professional development. Additionally they offer a ton of regular youth activities as well as camps.
Also, the National Park Service offers regional archaeology programs in and around DC. They offer cool archaeology programs for youth, teachers, professionals, and others in a variety of locations around the metro area.
Finally, of course, check out the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and learn more about the newly discovered ships.
While we don’t have an Excavate! DC, our series of social studies archaeology games serve as a great way to get students interested in world history and the process behind excavation. Through C-3 aligned gameplay, Excavate! fits into both the classroom and homeschooling curriculum.
Choose from a variety of civilizations with six currently available: MesoAmerica, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire. Additionally, bundles of civilizations release on the Apple App Store tomorrow for greater convenience. However, the games can also be purchased from Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and on our website.
You Might Also Be Interested In:
Byzantine Empire Joins Excavate! Social Studies Game Series
A Byzantine Empire Game for the Social Studies Classroom
Our latest expansion to our long-running Excavate! social studies and archaeology game series arrives today! Play Excavate! Byzantine on the web, Android devices, or iOS devices for $3.99. If you want more than one civilization, contact us to request bundle pricing.
Byzantine brings out total number of games up to six. Previously, the Excavate! series included Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia, MesoAmerica, and Greece. Like its predecessors, Excavate! Byzantine includes C3-aligned gameplay and companion teacher resources. For specifics, you can find out more on the main page for the game.
Analyze Artifacts and Discover the Byzantine Empire
Dig-It! Games CEO Suzi Wilczynski, a former middle school teacher, designs the Excavate! games. Through engaging gameplay and challenging analysis, the series aims to take students on entertaining and educational archaeological adventures through time and around the world. By using archaeologists’ tools, players uncover real artifacts from ancient cultures.
First, the game gets players immediately in the dirt, evaluating the proper tool to use while learning about the scientific process of excavation. Through this, players learn concepts such as stratigraphy, context and the importance of proper recording. Next, analysis takes center stage as players learn about the significance of the artifacts they collect and gain a deeper understanding of ancient people through what they left behind. Each civilization includes 3D artifacts and detailed illustrations of ancient life to immerse the user in each unique culture.
“We are pleased to be adding this new world history civilizations to the popular series after recently updating our previous content to align to C3 standards to make a more effective teaching tool” says Wilczynski. “Through its expansive content and flexible applications, Excavate!™ provides a high-quality resource for educators across their full World History Curriculum.”
Explore and Experience Byzantine Life
Excavate! Byzantine takes students to the Hagia Sophia, the Imperial Palace, an oikos (or house), and a market to discover how the people of this civilization lived. While they analyze artifacts, students learn about the role of religion, family, military, and trade in the empire. In this way, students not only learn about life in the Byzantine Empire but also stretch their critical thinking skills.
Teachers, we also provide several helpful resources for creating lesson plans around Excavate! Byzantine. Look through the Teachers Guide, focus on Inquiry Analysis, and quiz your students with these Artifact Based Questions. Because we want to make the use of these games as easy as possible, we have similar resources for each of the games in the Excavate! series.
If you want more information, read the full press release here.
Play Excavate! Byzantine Today!get it now
You Might Also Be Interested In:
Excavate Series Expands Greece, Rome and Playing Cards
Today, Dig-iT! Games formally announces the expansion and updated improvements to the Excavate social studies games series with six civilizations on world history. Existing civilizations Egypt, Mesopotamia and MesoAmerica have been updated with additional content and C3-aligned gameplay for an enriched overall learning experience. New civilizations include Rome, Greece and Byzantine (coming soon). Available on multiple platforms for desktops, tablets and phones, these games are designed by former middle school teacher and DIG-IT! Games CEO, Suzi Wilczynski, to take kids on archaeological adventures through time and around the world, that are both entertaining and educational.
New Playing Cards
The series has also been expanded to include Excavate! playing cards for classroom and family fun. Each card deck includes People, Places and Artifacts cards that complement the video game or can be played separately. This is a perfect way to get the conversation going without screen time. An excellent gift option for your child, grandchild or a favorite teacher to introduce the ancient cultures. Game decks are available for the Rome and Egypt civilizations. Standard game play is for 3 to 5 players ages 9 and above.
Six World History Civilizations
“We are pleased to be adding three new world history civilizations to this popular series and updating the content to align to C3 standards to make a more effective teaching tool” says Wilczynski. “Excavate™ provides a high-quality resource for educators across their full World History Curriculum and the new card decks add an additional option for cultural game play, creating a complete multi-media game experience for the middle-school classroom.
Read the complete press release here
Looking for resources to teach your Ancient Civilization course? We are happy to present the newest game of our Excavate Series; Excavate! Mesopotamia. This game will engage learners with a simulation of an archaeological dig. Kids and adults will have fun exploring the sites of Ancient Mesopotamia and examining artifacts left behind by the people who lived there.
Develop map skills and learn about locations:
Mesopotamia means “the land between rivers” and this interactive game takes players through five different sites in Mesopotamia: Ur, Nineveh, Persepolis, Babylon, and Nimrud. Students discover the important historical figures, technological advances, and the important buildings from each of the locations. All information is found in the student’s journal which can be accessed at any point in the game.
Explore archaeological tools and information about dig sites:
Players choose the correct tool such as a sieve, pick, brush, or trowel. Each tool is explained, but be careful! If you use the wrong tool you might break or lose the artifact! Click or drag the tool around the pit to uncover an artifact from the area. Fun facts about archaeology can be found while you are digging. Students can learn more about stratigraphy, tools, and soil while they are playing.
Use deductive reasoning:
Students analyze each artifact by answering a series of multiple choice questions about the material, location, and function. If they are successful in completing all of the artifacts, the next location will unlock. Students are able to access all of the information about the artifacts by returning to their journal and reading about them. Example of artifacts included in the game are: The Royal Game of Ur, Stele of Hammurabi, the Tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and a statue of Penelope from Persepolis.
How to use in class:
This is the perfect game to introduce basic archaeology and artifact analysis. It’s great to play individually or as a class to discuss culturally relevant objects from these ancient lands. Students are able to explore and take ownership of their own learning because they can also play at home and bring back information for class.
Use this game along with Excavate! Mesoamerica and Egypt to let students compare and contrast each civilization and their artifacts. This could be a great lesson when discussing where people settled and the tools they used and why. Look out for more locations to come!
Let us hear your thoughts!
Find the game here. Have an idea for an ancient civilization that you can’t find enough resources about? We’d love to hear what you’d like to see in a game! Send us an email or contact us on Twitter or Facebook to let us know what you think! Check out the full press release here.
Cultural Awareness Stickers
This package was published for Archaeology Day October 15, 2016 to help promote archaeology awareness worldwide. Protecting endangered archaeological sites has become a pressing issue for the community and it is our goal to use media like this to advocate greater preservation of cultural heritage. The more you use the stickers in your message, the greater the awareness. However, advocacy aside, it is just fun so share them, so get your friends to get them too and start sending archaeology messages today!
DIG-IT! Games is committed to producing educational games that introduce archaeology into classroom curriculum. You can explore our efforts in the app store.
Archaeology Awareness Month
“What did a Mayan kid my age wear every day?”
“How does math work without the number system I’m used to?”
“How different would my life have been if I was a settler in early America?”
“Wouldn’t it be cool to have a model of a real archaeological artifact?”
“Are there active archaeological dig sites in my state?”
April is the perfect time to ask all of these questions—and get answers! It’s Archaeology Month in Dig-It’s home state of Maryland, and we’re getting ready for a statewide celebration of our rich archeological heritage. There are plenty of opportunities for the public to take part in hands-on, educational, and—most importantly—fun events to learn more about archaeology as a whole, and what it means to our state.
From the first settlement in Maryland at St. Mary’s City to Civil War sites like Lafayette Square in Baltimore City, to the Chesapeake Bay region’s earliest Native American human settlements, our state has a rich tradition of history to celebrate.
So why is archeology so appealing? And what makes it such a powerful teaching tool? The Society for American Archeology (SAA) says on their website that “it captures our imagination, encourages our curiosity, and stimulates our sense of wonder. It is a great teaching tool that excites and motivates students, and it’s fun!” It’s tempting to think archeology belongs only in history class, but in reality it enriches all areas of study—language arts, social studies, science, even math! And it’s rewarding to more than just students. Maryland’s archaeology month has something for all ages, from academic lectures to family fun days.
Here are a few ideas for how to celebrate Archaeology Month in Maryland.
• Discovering Archaeology Day at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum invites families to spend the day on April 16 exploring on-site exhibits, learning from experts, and identify personal artifacts.
• Historic St. Mary’s City hosts a Maryland Archaeology Month Lecture, “A Brief History of Historical Archaeology in Maryland’s First Capital,” on April 21.
• Create your own event! Find and visit archaeological sites and programs all over the state through resources like The Council for Maryland Archeology and The Archaeological Society of Maryland.
• Visit Josiah Henson Park in Bethesda, Maryland featured by our friends at Archaeology in the Community and learn more about their local efforts.
• Venture out of Maryland and into the ancient world of the Romans and the Mayans with Dig-It’s archaeology games.
• Not from Maryland? Visit the Society for American Archaeology to find out when archaeology month happens in your state.
Dig-It is celebrating by traveling to this year’s annual SAA conference in Orlando, where we will be unveiling a new early-American archeology game. We can’t wait to spend time with the archeology community, advancing our knowledge and sharing our work. Until then, you can get a sneak peak in our video trailer below.
Happy Archaeology Month!