We’ll be studying the ancient world shortly---how could I pass up an opportunity to review an interactive game about the Mayans?
from Dig-It Games
- 1-year license for single user: $21.99
- Also available as an iPad App
- Recommended for grades 5th-9th
Mayan Mysteries’ storyline will take you to various archaeological sites in Central America, where you’ll learn information about Mayan civilization, collect artifacts, and search for clues to the identity of a sneaky looter, Ladrone.
First you’ll do some mapwork, learning to locate the Mayan sites.
At each site, you’ll meet a “cast of characters” eager to help you catch the culprit and to teach you about the past.
In the lower left of each page is a speaker icon you can click to have the text read to you.
Each of the colored words is a link to another page with more information and in many cases, that page will have more colored words linking to more pages…
That might seem a little overwhelming at first (will I get lost in this information tree?), but notice that there’s a “back” and “original” button at the top left of the screen. The “back” button will take you back to the previous screen and the “original” button will take you back to the article you originally branched off from.
We found that it was necessary to click on every hyperlink for the first several “conversations,” but as you get further into the story, the information starts to overlap and the same hyperlinked words appear multiple times---you can just read the new information.
Additionally, there is a “journal” button on the dig site’s screen that will take you to an index where you can look up various topics.
After you’ve read all the information, you can take the “Challenge,” which involves answering a few questions pertaining to what you’ve read.
Sometimes you’ll click on a character to talk to them and immediately be met with a different kind of challenge.
These tend to be more oriented towards problem-solving, but they do refer back to information previously learned in the program.
The problem-solving challenges vary in difficulty, from seeking and finding artifacts in a scene to doing some slightly complex mathematical computations (your student may need a pencil and paper for the one above).
Your student will collect artifacts, achievements, and clues as he works through the game.
Mayan Mysteries is best described as interactive lessons with some game like elements. My 13-year-old son has fond memories of playing Dig-it’s Roman Town when we reviewed it a couple of years ago and he was excited to try their newest offering.
Due to the fact that the game is not completely linear (you have the freedom to choose which location you go to and which person you “speak” to first), there were times when it would have been easier to complete a problem-solving challenge if my son had done things in a slightly different order---one challenge in particular had us scratching our heads, but immediately afterwards we “talked” to another character and it became crystal clear.
My son found all the reading to be a bit much at first---he’s an excellent reader, but doesn’t like reading large amounts of text on a computer screen and the numerous hyperlinks were distracting and made him feel a bit lost.
After trying the game myself, I have to agree with him on that point. Fortunately, you can click the “audio” button and have the text read to you, ignoring the hyperlinks until it finishes the current selection.
There are volume controls in the game for voice and music, and you can even set it to automatically read the text.
Mayan Mysteries is a nice little extra to add to your ancient world studies with plenty of variety. It could work really well as a “group” activity, with everyone gathered around the computer to listen to the readings and completing the challenges together (in fact, I’m thinking about doing that with my younger kids during our studies this year).
The suggested age range is due to the maturity of some of the material (there is mention of things like human sacrifice, bloodletting, and so on, but no graphic descriptions) and a few of the challenges require math computations that very young children will not be ready for.
I recommend trying out the Mayan Mysteries demo to see if it will be a good fit for your family.
For reviews of the iPad version of this game, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog: