Making Gameboards – A History Lab

Game board projects, adapted from this lesson plan on Read Write Think:

My students just finished making gameboards for Westward Expansion. It was a learning experience for all of us! I want to share the details, handouts, and my reflections here.

Students took on the role of gameboard designers whose task it was to create a learning/review game for Westward Expansion. Each child was assigned a partner and they used their textbooks, Joy Hakim’s Reconstructing America to write 25 questions each. They were not allowed to duplicate questions. They were asked to write 10 easy, 10 medium, and 5 hard questions on this template:

Question Writing Sheet

The original idea is that they would write questions as they thought of them, and then evaluate the difficulty level. Next year we want to redesign this sheet with 10 spaces for EASY, 10 for MEDIUM with examples right above the appropriate spaces to provide additional support.

The dialogue about the content was amazing – the children really gave themselves a great review of the content. So much so that my partner teacher and I have decided this part of the project should come prior to the unit test. Another modification for next year will be to provide a list of key terms/people/concepts to provide additional support for question writers.

Once the questions were written, the teams worked together to design their gameboard using a file folder, markers, and their imaginations. The game’s purpose was to reflect the theme of Westward Expansion (earn your homestead by _____, complete the transcontinental railroad, etc) as well as the design of the board itself. Rules were to be written that would incorporate their questions into play. Each partner was responsible for half of the gameboard (the file folder crease made this simple).


I have done a similar project in years past, and with some tweaking I know we will implement this again next year. It takes two days to design the board, write the rules and have some time to play them. The question writing will be introduced as test review, and what isn’t finished in one class period becomes homework. The dialogue about the content – what was important, and how could they make it fun was well worth the time.

3 comments so far

  1. Bill Gaskins on

    Awesome activity. Thanks for sharing…

  2. Eve Heaton on

    Very very very cool. Will be sharing this at school today. Thank you for posting. I had a couple of questions but I can send you a separate email.


  3. Mar on

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I love this idea and plan to use it for my end of the year project.

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