What is more fun than creating a new world, with a new language, and rules that you get to make up? That is the kind of fun that students get to experience with this Create a Country activity!
As a teacher, I’m constantly trying to think of ways to connect with my students’ interests.
If they are interested in dance, I try to add some dance breaks to our school day. If they are interested in the wizarding world, I try to add in some references to Harry during our lessons about characterization or while giving examples of figurative language. If my students like sports, I try to give them some sports stat examples during our math unit.
Connecting class content with student interests is an ongoing goal, and one thing students are really interested in these days is video games.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em video games are a major part of our culture, and with the esports taking off, video games are starting to become even more mainstream.
One way I think we can support our students’ video game interests is through this Create a Country activity.
Create a Country Activity
I have been doing the Create a Country Activity as one of our end-of-year projects for years, in fact, you can take a look at this blog post where I wrote about it several years ago.
The Create a Country activity involves students creating a nation from flowers to flags to fields and forests. Although the list is editable, you can take a closer look at the image below to get a better idea what students are asked to create as part of this project.
When I’ve done this project, I like to put students in groups. Working as a group, each team of students will make decisions and build out a presentation for their new country.
Although the project is not overly complicated, it is very creative, and making sure students go through the creative process from brainstorming to creating mock ups and getting feedback and editing, is a great learning experience and a fun way to end the year.
Don’t be afraid to edit!
I often do the Create a Country activity late in the year and the activity changes a little each time… as do my expectations.
Each class of students is different, so you never know what piece of the project they are really going to connect to, and it is good to remain open-minded as you prepare for and conduct the activity with students.
Since the resource is editable, you can edit the document to fit your needs and your students’ interests.
Although it is not required, you can add an researching component where students take some time to review all of the required pieces of information for a real country of their choosing before starting to create their own new country.
You can also add in more presentational components.
- Do you want students to create a poster or video presentation?
- Do you want students to use Power Point, Canva, or Google Slides to create their flag?
- Do you want them to create a physical version of their flag with crayons and paper?
- Maybe you want to leave those choices wide open and see what the students decide to do.
All of these options are great, and the more you do this activity, the more you’ll find what you like and don’t like with the presentations.
Video Games, Movies, and Themes…Oh My!
So…what does this have in common with building a video game?
A lot actually.
When students play video games, they are traveling through new worlds.
Consider the multiple levels in a game of Mario. Students will traverse deserts and mushroom planets and islands. They will find lands streaming with lava or castles built in a desert oasis. As students begin to consider their country, encourage them to think about what it would be like to build in that place or have an adventure there.
One of the most popular video games from the last decade is Minecraft. If you’re unfamiliar with Minecraft, you may want to do some reading up, but a large component of the Minecraft game is world building. Think building blocks on screen turned into full cities, buildings, and sky structures or deep dark underground tunnel systems and railways. Minecraft is a game about building.
Suggestion: Maybe ask your interested students to take their presentations one step further and actually build a mock up of their capital city in the creative version of Minecraft.
Even if you don’t specifically bring in a video game component, you can talk about how this activity is similar to the brainstorming and creativity that goes into creating new worlds or cities for video games, movies, and TV shows.
Another example that could invite an interesting perspective is Big Hero 6. In that film, Disney’s creators have combined several real countries and cities to create a new one. Could students use countries or cities that already exist to inspire their choices?
Another fun aspect of this activity is in the creativity and the cohesiveness of the theme and design. If the students choose a robin as their national bird, and then choose robin’s egg blue as part of their design for the flag, that jives. Encourage students to find these types of connections!
All in all…
This activity has all of the makings of a really special end-of-year project for your students where they can show off their interests and skills in new ways. Be sure to download your free version of this resource soon because it may be exactly what you need to finish off your planning for this year.
Have your students found a fun way to make the Create a Country even more special? We’d love to see pictures or examples of your students creating their new, exciting countries!
If you’re looking for some additional ways to support your social studies units, take a look at our States and Capitols U-KNOW decks!