Dig-It! Games sent us access to their online game Mayan Mysteries to review. The interactive game encourages children to learn about Mayan culture while tracking down a looter. The looter leaves artifacts and clues for Dr. Alex Quinn and his team, Team Q. The team consists of Dr. Quinn's niece and nephew, Fiona and Charlie, and their friend, your child. Throughout the mystery, children play various games and read from a book with information about the culture. There are quizzes to test out what they've learned, too.
Ceesa used the game several times a week for 30-90 minutes a day. She generally begged for more time when I told her it was time to stop playing.
Our goal in trying out Mayan Mysteries was to have Ceesa learn some things about early Central American cultures. So what did Ceesa learn?
"I learned that the king was supposed to be the voice of the gods. The king only ruled because the people thought he should. Since he said he was the voice of the gods, the people believed that he should rule and they should honor him. When the end of the kingdom came about, it was because they had just lost to the Spanish and several environmental disasters came. The people choose to stop obeying the king's commands.
The number system was based on items...shells stood for 0, pebbles stood for 1, and sticks stood for 5. So if you were writing 15, you would write stick, stick, stick.
The Mayans calculate their year in three different ways. The first was lamat. There was a symbol to show the month and then the number of the day. The Haab was another symbol and another number. Then there was the long count, which was several different numbers with a symbol beside them. All those together are called rounds and they are on turning wheels to show the different symbols and numbers.
I also learned that you need to use different tools when excavating different levels of a site. At the first level, you can use pick axes and hoes. When you get down to the different levels of dirt, you use gentler tools so that you don't damage the artifacts. There was a tool called a puffer. It has air in it that you blow to remove the dirt from the artifact. Paint brushes are used to brush dirt away. Hand trowels are used for digging.
At Copan, they lived near a volcano. When the volcano erupted, the people had enough warning to run for their lives, but they left everything sitting where it was. There aren't any bodies or skeletons, but their are bone needles, pots, even food on the tables.
The difference between looters and archeologist is that archeologists, as they go down layer by layer, make sure they keep track of where they found the artifacts, and what layer they were in. Archeologists preserve the artifacts for museums. Looters dig, take no records, destroy sites, and they leave artifacts that aren't valuable. When they find something that is valuable, they will sell it to the public.
If you were to find a skeleton near a home, that may mean they died peacefully, but if you find them near an arrowhead or scattered weapons, they may have died during war. Bones show scars where they have been broken, so if you were to find a skeleton in a tomb with a broken leg, shell helmet, shell goggles, and a sword, the person once may have been a warrior."
Poppa and I took a trip to Chichen Itza before the children were born and we have lots of pictures. The kids love to look through our photo album, so when Ceesa was working we pulled those pictures out to look at and relate to what she was learning about.
I appreciate that there are real pictures of things in the book. While the cartoons hold her attention, seeing pictures of the actual artifacts and structures is invaluable.
There were several games that took Cessa a lot of time to work through. One of them was looking for lost items in pictures. I really would have liked for this game to have taken her less time, so that she could spend more time learning more about the culture. Another game was using the payment system. I'm not sure that she had a real grasp of what they were asking even after playing it several times.
We start back to schooling full time soon, so we plan to let Ceesa finish up her mystery as a bonus for getting her work done each week.
Wishing you homeschool blessings,
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