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Heifer International: Game for Change

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What it is: Heifer International works with communities to end hunger, poverty, and care for the earth.  Heifer International does not give hand-outs, they offer hand ups.  Transforming lives of hunger and poverty, into sustained lives of hope.  Using gifts of livestock and training, Heifer International helps families improve nutrition and generate sustainable income.  I have written about a program that Heifer International has before, called Read to Feed.  I highly recommend that you take a look at the Read to Feed program if you haven’t seen it before.  Heifer International has partnered with BeaconFire and ForgeFX to create an interactive 3D game that teaches students about hunger and poverty in a virtual world.  Through Heifer International: Game for Change, students will learn about real world conditions of poverty and how communities can create sustainable solutions.  Through game play, students will learn about sustainable options for help.  In the game, students take on the role of a 12 year old Nepalese girl in a village that struggles with poverty and hunger.  There are four tasks/missions that students must complete in the current (beta) version of the game.  Each task offers an activity that teaches a core principle.  One example is a task where students learn about deforestation that makes it more difficult to collect firewood used to cook dinner.  The lessons in the game mirror real-life happenings in Nepal with Heifer International’s partners.  The game is currently in Beta version and the creators are asking for suggestions here.  

How to integrate Heifer International: Game for Change into the classroom: Heifer International: Game for Change is an excellent way to offer your students global education, awareness, and encourage them to action.  Students will learn important lessons about issues like poverty and environmental degradation in a real, hands on, manner.  Start out with a geography lesson, encouraging students to find Nepal on a map or globe.  Use Google Earth or Scribble Maps to put a place marker on Nepal and a place marker where they live.  Talk with students about issues of poverty and hunger, exploring the Heifer International site for students where they can watch videos, do experiments, and play games.  Next, allow your students to step into the story by taking the role of a Nepalese girl living in an impoverished village.  Students should work to complete all 4 tasks in the game and keep a journal (online or off) of their thoughts as they complete the game.  Was it hard to find food, wood, water?  There are a lot of lessons packed in here, from geography and social studies, to reading and following directions and character education.

As an extension activity, students could create VoiceThreads or Animoto videos about Heifer International.  Tie in the Read to Feed program so that your students can get hands on with Heifer International.  Use their completed VoiceThreads or Animoto videos as “advertisements” for the Read to Feed program.

If your students are anything like mine, they will have definite opinions about the game.  Why not take advantage of that, and have them offer suggestions and praise that can be used by the creators?  Have students craft their ideas and send them here.

Tips: If you haven’t signed up for the Read to Feed program, it is an outstanding program.  It includes free DVD, leaders guide, poster, storybook (Beatrice’s Goat), brochures, bookmarks, student rewards, and standard based curriculum.  Get your students excited about reading and involved in their global community, it is never too early to get your students thinking about others!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Heifer International: Game for Change in your classroom.

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