Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Dig-It! Games

Over the summer we have had a fun and interesting opportunity to learn about Mayan Culture in depth through our review of Mayan Mysteries (Online Game) from Dig-It! Games.  This game is unique because it combines something that my children love - a mystery - with a fun game on the computer. While the kids are playing the game, and trying to solve the mystery, they are absorbing A LOT of information about Mayan history and culture that would be very difficult to learn in a traditional setting.

What is Dig-It! Games? This company has produced a lineup of interesting and interactive games for the computer and iPad that teach children through an immersion method of learning. The programs use clever games, puzzles, and graphics, telling a story and drawing from all areas of learning - math, reading, and thinking skills.

What is Mayan-Mysteries? This is an online game that teaches ancient Mayan culture and history through story telling and interactive problem solving. The animated characters in the story are Professor Alex Quinn, his niece Fiona, and nephew Charlie. Professor Quinn is an archaeologist who is called in to an ancient Mayan site when it is discovered that looters have been stealing artifacts. The children follow their uncle through many adventures as they seek to find the looters and solve the mystery, while learning a whole lot about archaeology in general and Mayan history specifically as they discover clues.

What is the target age? Mayan Mysteries is designed for play by students in 5th through 9th grade. There is a good deal of reading and reasoning skills involved in solving the puzzles and finding the clues.

How long does the game last? There are about 9 hours of playing time to completely solve the mystery. Parts of the game can be repeated though, to gain more points or a higher score.

What type of learning is involved? Some of the games fine tune math skills. Others have the student reading and answering questions. There are lots of deductive reasoning games to locate clues and identify artifacts. There is a wide variety of activities to appeal to many different types of learners. The entire program has a built in encyclopedia and unknown or unfamiliar terms can easily be looked up and learned to help the student's progress through the game.  There are multiple maps and map activities as well.

Map Study
The archaeological site where the team is searching for clues and learning about the Mayans. Notice the small exclamation point above the head of one of the workers. 

A set of challenge questions with multiple choice answers.
How did we use Mayan Mysteries? Melissa and Kelly are at opposite ends of the recommended age for this game. Melissa is in 9th grade and Kelly is in 5th. Both girls played the game on a regular basis this summer. They often played it together so no one would miss an important piece of information to solve their part of the mystery and progress through the challenges.

Favorite activities: Melissa liked the map puzzles and Kelly liked using the clues to find artifacts. They also liked the decoding and deciphering activities, where words were replaced with Mayan symbols. They liked answering challenge questions, being rewarded with the "success" screen and earning points. Both of them thought the background music was cool as well.

What does Mom think? I confess, I got sucked in to playing this game a bit too! I thought the information challenges were very interesting, and just the right amount of information to learn something new without being too overwhelming. I like how the children are able to retain key points of information that they learn, through repetition and the games. I think the game based learning is a very effective way to really absorb information that might otherwise be considered dry or boring.

Dig-It! Games made learning facts about ancient cultures fun, interesting, and exciting! 

Check out Dig-It! Games on social media:

Read about how other Crew members used Mayan-Mysteries as well as another Dig-It! Games product, Roman Town, in their home schools this summer:

Dig-It! Games Review

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