Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A TOS Review: Mayan Mysteries from Dig-It! Games

A while back, we had the good fortune to review Mayan Mysteries (Online Game) from Dig-It! Games. I was excited to have a chance to review it again. It seemed like the perfect end of summer distraction.

Mayan Mysteries is an online game intended for grades 5-9. To play you must have a computer with a reliable online connection. For those of you who are concerned, I recently downloaded Windows 10 and we didn’t have any issues. I think your browser would be what you would need to be concerned with. We use Google Chrome without any difficulty. The game explores the ancient culture of the Mayans. This is primarily done through the study of archaeology.

You can imagine how that has gone down in our house. Did I mention I wanted to be an archaeologist growing up? Josiah, himself, cut his teeth on the tales of Indiana Jones and his adventures. He was heartbroken to discover that most archaeologists, in fact, don’t spend their time fighting off Nazis and snakes.

Back to the game. The game can also be downloaded on an iPad if you would rather go that direction. The website says the game itself features over 9 hours of play time. The whole thing is completely interactive. Not only does the student read about Mayan culture and history, but they complete challenges of knowledge, skill and chance.

We explored maps, interactive encyclopedia articles, played games and tried to solve a mystery throughout our review period.

How We Used It

Our review period happened to coincide with our summer break. There are a few of us crazy homeschool mommas who really never take a break. This game fit in nicely with my goals for an easy, but beneficial break (code word for we never-evah stop!). We got to learn and play at the same time.  

Here are just a few of the activities that we encountered. I've taken some screen shots along the journey. 

This is shot is from the very first stop. The explorers are visiting Ceren located in El Salvador. Ceren was a small, farming village. It was completely buried by a volcanic eruption around 600 AD. 

At this point, Josiah had already completed on of the challenges. The challenges can be identified by the question mark over the explorers heads. 

After clicking one such question mark, Josiah found himself reading about Maize. Josiah is dyslexic, but the reading is simplified by a wonderful narration option located on the bottom left-hand side of the screen.

By clicking on any of the blue underlined words or phrases, you are able to learn more. This click to Josiah to an article about the Three Sisters in Mayan agriculture practices...maize, squash and beans.

After reading the information the student is then taken to a serious of challenge questions. The yellow car represents the good guys. The red truck is looters. With each answered question the yellow car moves forward towards the prize. If the question is answered wrong. If the red truck happens to catch you (we know this first hand) the student is given opportunity to answer the question again. They do, however, lose points.

I had to include this question. It had nothing to do with the above reading challenge about Maize. This reading was more about archaeological practices. The questions is as follows.

What is relative dating? Answer a? Going out with your cousin.

Well played, Dig-It!. Well played.

Some of the challenges are games.

This game involved Josiah guessing the purposes of each artifact.

There is sooo much more to the whole game. You can see that it's not only educational, but entertaining as well. 

What I Thought

During the course of the game there are some sort of spirit guides. I mentioned this in my last review. They are still there. I don't think they are necessary, but I suppose that in the context of Mayan culture they are permissible. 

This game has a lot of content in it.  Much of it is a reading comprehension exercise. There are math and calendar exercises incorporated throughout, however. The game is not merely filled with funny story lines and punchy games. It really strives to instruct.

Overall, it is easy to navigate and to understand. As a parent of a child who struggles with dyslexia I was thrilled with the option to read along with narration. It made all the difference in the world to Josiah. I like that the questions were not lengthy and complicated. Neither were the reading passages themselves. Josiah’s curiosity didn’t have to be subject to a complicated program.

We would LOVE more games to be developed. If you have an iPad there are more available to you.  Everything about the game is just so well-done. It is all of excellent quality. We look forward to see what Dig-It! comes up with next. 

You can follow Dig-It! Games via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Dig-It! Games Review

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