In the computer-based Ancient Civilizations activity, students create their own civilization and see how it fares over the years based on choices they make for location, animals, plants and materials. Students trade resources between their civilizations, repeatedly go to war with unnamed enemies, and learn some fun facts about real-world ancient civilizations along the way. This activity was inspired by Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.
Value of natural resources in ancient civilizations
Impact of ecological and pathological events on populations
Primary CT concept: abstraction. It would be foolish to try and explain all of ancient history by looking at just the natural resources available to a civilization, but for the purposes of this lesson, we abstract away all other details to focus on this important aspect of burgeoning civilizations.
Students will be able to
Describe the impact of the Bubonic Plague and understand how some civilizations developed immunities, giving them significant advantage over other civilizations
Understand that some animals, plants and materials are more valuable to a burgeoning civilization than others
Understand how certain resources can be beneficial during periods of war
Create a classroom code using the web app linked above. This will allow your students to trade with one another.
If you’re focused on a particular ancient civilization, you could consider limiting the resources student can pick from to those that were plausibly in that civilization. In this way, you could repeat this activity in subsequent units with different civilizations.
Suggested lesson breakdown
This activity is incredibly flexible. Students can play for a few minutes a day over several weeks, or they can play a full game within a sixty minute class period.
Washington State standards
Analyzes the costs and benefits of economic choices made by groups and individuals in the past or present.
Constructs and analyzes maps using scale, direction, symbols, legends and projections to gather information.
Understands and analyzes how the environment has affected people and how people have affected the environment in the past or present.
Understands how the rise of civilizations defines eras in ancient history by explaining and comparing the rise of civilizations on two or more continents.
Understands and analyzes how technology and ideas from ancient civilizations have impacted world history.