Imperialism Activities & Games

Instructor: Caitlin Ferraiolo Brady

Caitlin is a sixth grade geography teacher in Connecticut. She holds a Master's Degree in Educational Techonology.

This lesson is a collection of games and activities to teach students about Imperialism. The games will focus on the process of imperial powers taking over land around the world as well as what the world looked like at the height of imperialism.

What Is Imperialism?

Imperialism was a policy followed by several European countries during the 16, 17, and 1800's where, in order to expand their empires and increase their wealth, countries explored, conquered, and ruled lands in other parts of the world. For example, Great Britain took over India in Asia and created colonies in North America. Belgium took over The Congo in Africa, and Spain took over most of South America. The European rulers gained wealth through the control and sale of natural resources from their imperial territories and collected taxes from their subjects spread across the globe, making European nations among the most powerful in the world.

Why Games?

Games are a great hands-on way to teach the topic of imperialism. Games allow students to put themselves in the shoes of both the Europeans and Africans (or other colonized people) and develop empathy for those impacted by imperialism through an experiential approach. These games also help to create differentiated instruction for a variety of learners and help bring the topic of imperialism to life.

Scramble for Africa Board Game

Materials

  • Large political map of Africa
  • Two dice
  • Several sets of different colored paper squares
  • Natural resource map of Africa

Preparation

  • Cut several sets of small paper squares out of different colored paper. They will represent the following countries:
    • Yellow- Portugal - 5 squares
    • Green- France- 7 squares
    • Blue- Great Britain- 9 squares
    • Pink- The Netherlands (Holland)- 5 squares
    • Orange- Belgium- 6 squares

Laminate them for durability if you can.

Activity

  • Each player in the game will represent a different imperial European country and will use the appropriate colored squares to represent them on the map. Taking turns, students will place one of their squares onto the map game board until all squares have been placed. They can use the natural resource map to help them decide which countries will be most profitable, and there can be more than one square on a country at any time.
  • Once all of the squares have been placed, any students who have their squares on the same country will fight for that country by rolling the dice, and the highest roll wins the country. The student with the most squares left on the board is the winning imperial country.
  • Invite students to think about the game from two perspectives as they play: the Europeans who are taking over the countries in Africa, and the African people whose nations are being taken over.

Natural Resource Hunt

Materials

  • 15-20 small cardboard bracelet boxes
  • Pictures of or small symbols of natural resources such as gold, sugar, coffee, rice, silk, oil, spices, diamonds, iron ore, etc.
  • Play money
  • Price chart

Preparation

  • Place the pictures or symbols of the different natural resources into the boxes. Choose resources that can be found in the part of the world you are focusing on.
  • Hide the boxes around your learning space.
  • Create a chart of prices that you will pay for each of the resources hidden in the room.

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