February is African American History month and an excellent time to set up your very own Underground Railroad inside of your library! Here are some ideas on how to get started and what you can do to make it a success.
- Have a computer specially assigned for this learning topic. A special homepage can be created with some background information and links to the games listed on this blog, including Escape to Freedom of course! Students can work their way through the games and learn with librarian assistance close by for those tough search questions. The homepage should also provide additional links to learning more--you can use the ones listed on this blog and others you may find!
- Have library materials on the topic displayed around the computer. The questions on Escape to Freedom can be found in many print resources already available in your library. Put these and other relevant titles near the "Underground Railroad Station" so that students can look for answers or follow their curiousity after completing the games.
- Decorate the zone with posters, photographs, and other memorabilia that will inspire the children on their learning adventure.
- Provide rewards! You can find promotional items like pencils, pins, and T-shirts from this website for Black History Month Products. There is even a "Black History Month Certificate" that you could award students that complete all of the interactive games!
- Step Back into History! Host a special discussion event where students can show up dressed like their favorite historical figure from this time period--you can provide them with a list beforehand of the ones specifically mentioned in "Escape to Freedom" (like Levi Coffin or Harriet Tubman). Students can learn from each other by asking questions about their "character" and by giving little bibliographical speeches. Be sure to have biographical resources available in plenty of time beforehand!
- Create a list of "Stations" that students can complete in order to be completely free! For example, Station 1 could be completing the "Escape to Freedom" game; Station 2 could be going through PBS's "I am a Slave"; Station 3 could be answering questions about the time period whose answers are found in the printed display materials, etc. Once through all of the stations, the students can be given a special pencil or certificate showing that they've made it to Freedom!
These are just some ideas to get you started on how you can bring this interactive learning experience into your library or classroom. While there are lots of links to online resources on this blog, I'll post some print resources you may want to use with my next entry. Please feel free to comment if you have questions about how to incorporate this game into your learning environment, or if you have more ideas you'd like to share!