Countries of South America Games

Instructor: Kim-Kathie Knudsen

Kim-Kathie has taught high school and college Spanish and has worked as a professional development specialist and instructional technology administrator. She has a master's degree in Teaching and Curriculum and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

It can be hard to learn the countries of South America, but using games can help make that learning more active and easier. The games in this lesson can be played individually, in partners, as part of a small group, or as a whole class.

Using Games to Learn Geography

Geography can be difficult for students to master, especially geography involving countries outside of the United States, like South America. Students need active learning to master their names and characteristics, which can involve more than just looking at a map or list of countries. Keeping students engaged in the learning process through a variety of activities that appeal to many learning styles is key to content mastery.

Games can be used to introduce content, encourage class participation, and engage students in learning about the countries in South America. Games can be used at the beginning of a lesson, after an instructional presentation, as part of an active-learning session, and to conclude a class or review material. Make sure that all of the students in your class can participate in the following games at the same time, and vary their use to keep students engaged.

For your convenience, the names of the 12 countries and two territories in South America are as follows:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Falkland Islands (territory)
  • French Guiana (territory)

Individual Games

The following games can be played individually and make for an effective starter activity, a review, or a station in a classroom rotation.

Sort Those South American Countries!

  • Materials needed: set of index cards for each student or station
  • Preparation: Write the names of the countries and territories in South America, along with a selection of those located in Central America, the Caribbean, or other places outside of the continent, on a set of index cards.
  • Game play: Have students sort the countries in and outside of South America into two piles. To make the activity even more challenging, students can time themselves or compete with each other to beat the clock.

Map Attack!

  • Materials needed:
    • Blank maps of South America (one per student)
    • Small strips of paper labeled with South American and North American countries
  • Game play: As an addition or alternative to the sorting activity, the objective of this game is to choose and place each South American country in its correct location. Have students examine their strips of paper, determine which countries are located in South America, and move them to the correct location. If this is a starter activity, students can consult a map or a list of South American countries. If used as a review activity, students can locate the countries from memory; to make it more competitive, students can race to see which one can locate the South American countries the fastest.

Partner or Group Games

Classroom Basketball

  • Materials needed:
    • Small foam basketball and portable basketball net, which can be mounted on the back of the classroom door
    • Roll of masking tape
  • Preparation: Mark off scoring lines 8-12 inches apart with masking tape in front of the hoop ahead of time. The line closest to the net is worth one point, the next line is worth two points, etc.
  • Game play: The objective of the game is to generate a class list of all the countries and their capitals in South America. Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students. Groups will take turns calling out the name of a South American country and its capital, and individual students will take turns shooting the basketball from a scoring line of their choice; keep track of the number of points on the board. The game ends when the list of South American countries and their capitals is complete; the team with the most points wins.

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