APRIL 22, 2020
It won’t be too long before I have a voter leave my home. My goal is to ensure that by then, my now-middle schooler and her siblings understand civic processes and are aware that if they do not participate, they are at the mercy of the decisions of others; decisions that may not benefit them. Participating in civics and understanding your civil rights is especially important for us as we take into account the historic ways that Black people have fought so hard for us to enjoy the life we experience today. If we are to ensure that the rights that we enjoy and hold so dear are available for future citizens, we have to practice civics.
Right now is the perfect time to learn more about civics and how it impacts our lives. In our home, we discuss the upcoming election, the decisions made by our school board, and the ways our governor and even the president are managing the COVID-19 crisis. Civic learning should be active and should connect kids so that they see their place in civil society. Reading about how our government works and the rights and responsibilities available to all can be boring or dry. Games are my family’s favorite way to cultivate the civic skills and civic knowledge needed for an informed civic life.
iCivics games cover a variety of civic topics like local government, constitutional law, elections, immigration, and so much more. iCivics games are versatile and can be played in a 30-to 45-minute timeframe. However, if you want to go deeper with the learning, there are plenty of possibilities that are sure to make your child’s learning experience more meaningful.
Here are six ways you and your family can take your iCivics game play to the next level:
iCivics Game Odyssey (5th-12th grade, individual activity)
iCivics recently released the Remote Learning Toolkit for Families, which includes the Game Odyssey. This is a perfect kid-driven activity with maps, quests, and badges, and by the end of the adventure, your child will be a civic boss! Learn more about the Game Odyssey.
Family Leaderboards (5th-12th grade, competitive group activity)
Pick an iCivics game (I recommend starting with Do I Have A Right?). Keep a running list of the highest game scores from each family member for one week. You can raise the stakes with a prize at the end of the week or just relish in the friendly competition that arises between family members. The benefits? Not only will the kids learn civics, but so will the adults in the house!
Game Play with Siblings (3rd-12th grade, collaborative group activity)
I am a huge fan of pairing my kids together on a device with an iCivics game. In fact, this is one of our recommendations for teachers. During game play, my kids discuss game strategy, explore civic concepts, and work collaboratively as a team. I cover this in greater detail in a recently recorded webinar with The Center for Election Science that you can view on-demand.
BINGO Cards (3rd-12th grade, individual activity)
Across, down, or diagonal…it doesn’t matter, you just need five in a row. iCivics BINGO gives kids a bit more motivation when playing iCivics games. You can also create a fun challenge between siblings to see who can get five first. Learn more about our BINGO card activity.
Game Play and Family Discussion (6th-12th grade, group activity)
After playing iCivics games, engage your kids in critical thinking about what they learned during game play. Ask them what the experience was like and then relate those experiences to the civics happening in your community and in the news.
Weekly Planners (6th-12th grade, individual activity)
Need activities that extend across several days? Look no further than the Weekly Planners. Spread the game play and learning across 3-5 days with structured activities. No planning needed by parents, just print and go!
No matter how you choose to play iCivics games, your kids will have a lot of fun and will learn a thing or two. Visit the iCivics Remote Learning Toolkit for Families for more about the resources mentioned above. We love seeing our games in the wild. Share your BINGO card, family conversation highlights, or a snapshot of your family leaderboard with us on social media using #ShelterInPlay!
Wait! Before you go, meet me and my girls!
Written By Amber Coleman-Mortley
Amber Coleman-Mortley is the Director of Social Engagement at iCivics. She’s a former teacher and varsity coach and a parent blogger. She makes her own kombucha and makes her girls run a mile every morning. Follow her on Twitter at @momofallcapes.