Recall: The Knowledge Game

Social Studies

Students create a game show based on information about ancient civilizations and cultures.

What You Need

  • Reference material about ancient civilizations, including textbooks, nonfiction books, and encyclopedias
  • Large index cards (or tagboard cut to about that size)
  • Hole punch
  • Twine, yarn, or rings to bind cards
  • Drawing materials and props as needed to create game show atmosphere (contestant tables, scoreboards, stopwatch, category lists).
  • Video and/or audio recorder (optional)

What to Do

  1. Discuss with students television game shows that require contestants to have learned information about many subjects. Explain that they are going to have the chance to participate in that kind of show, but first they need to prepare resources that the contestants can study. These resources are mini-encyclopedias about ancient civilizations.

  2. Have students divide into research teams, each of which is responsible for making notes about one of the following ancient civilizations:
    • Abbasid Caliphate
    • Ancient Greece
    • Ancient Rome
    • Byzantine Empire
    • Empire of Mali (Africa)
    • Song Dynasty (China)
    • Tang Dynasty (China)

  3. Have students write, on index cards, a summary in outline form of the information they gather. This summary should include information on as many as possible of the following areas:
    • Arts
    • Biography (that is, important historical figures)
    • Geography
    • Government
    • Religion
    • Time period
    • Science and technology

    Suggest that students use graphic aids (such as time lines and maps) where necessary to make the information easier to understand.

  4. On the last card of each encyclopedia, students write at least five study questions that can be answered by studying the information in the encyclopedia.

  5. Have students bind each set of cards to form books, one for each civilization. Create a sign-up sheet for each book. Explain to students that everyone who hopes to compete in Recall: The Knowledge Game should study each book and master the information in it before going on to the next one. Suggest that if students study in pairs, they can quiz each other, using the questions at the end.

  6. To prepare for the quiz show, form a planning committee by choosing one student volunteer from each research team. This group draws up the plans for the program by considering such issues as these:
    • Physical set-up
    • How contestants compete (for example, individually or as teams)
    • Organization of the questions (that is, by what categories)
    • Point value for each correct answer
    • How contestants signal their readiness to answer
    • What happens if the contestant gives the wrong answer?

  7. Choose other student volunteers to serve in the following capacities:
    • Question experts, who write the final questions (based on the ones in each encyclopedia) and judge the answers for accuracy.
    • Production crews, who put together the set for the quiz show and run the video or audio recorder.
    • Writers, who write a script for the masters of ceremony and announcers.
    • Artists, who design the set.
    • Directors, who give cues and keep things moving.

Teaching Options

  • Once you know how many students wish to compete, you might have a series of classroom quiz shows each day (rotating responsibility for questions, production, master of ceremonies, and announcer), culminating with a championship match in front of a wider audience on the last day.
  • To make the game show format even more authentic, have writers and graphic artists in the class prepare commercials for the sponsors: information providers or resources. For example, one team might write and produce an ad for the library, another for online information sources, and a third for a local museum. Integrate the commercials into the final production.


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