Mystery Location (Sometimes called Mystery Skype) is a geography game that is expanding around the world and helps students become digital global citizens! Classes connect with other educators and classes to guess where they are in the world.
- Students ask “yes” or “no” questions to help narrow down where the other participant is located.
- Generally, in the United States, students will play a modified version of Mystery State (guess the state). Some even play internationally – just remember to check your time zones!
- There are many different networks that have educators looking for others to play against (Google+, Twitter, Skype in the Classroom, etc.) Sometimes even museums will play against the students or even the National Park Rangers! If you are interested please contact one of us to assist you.
I have experienced this game three different ways; each experience was unique. My first experience was at MACUL in a conference room against some 6th graders from Kansas. We may have lost but it definitely showed promise for classroom use. The second and third games were with a 2nd grade TAG class. They called New Zealand; we didn’t guess their country first but we did figure out the bay they were located on. The third call was to Alaska; the teacher and I didn’t tell the students it was a state-to-state game (which confused our new friends) but we did figure out they were from Alaska. After both of these calls the students shared information about their respective countries or states. (They even have become digital pen pals with New Zealand!)
Overall this has been a great way to have a student-led activity that has many different valuable outcomes (geography skills and problem solving to name a few.) I would encourage teachers to try this – not only does it teach students to think critically but helps them experience the world around them.
How to Play Mystery Location:
(These instructions are very similar to playing Mystery Animal)
Make a Connection
- Find another class to play with – you can start small (within the district) or go worldwide!
- Agree on a time to meet – Games can take 30-45 minutes to play. If you are playing nationwide/worldwide check your timezones! I use TimeandDate.com’s Time Zone Converter to check before finalizing to the connection.
- “I want to play but don’t know who to connect with…” – My advice is to start small, but if you want to reach out to other educators check different groups such as those on Google+ or Skype in the Classroom. If you want assistance, contact a Technology Interventionist.
- Check your camera and microphone connection – If you need help with this, a Tech Interventionist can assist you.
- Remind the students not to tell the other class their location – this can be hard when they are excited
- Remove any identifying information if able. This can include flags (if playing internationally) or even sports team shirts. (Ask the students – they often spot things we might miss.)
During the Connection
- Each class will take turns asking “yes” or “no” questions.
- The other class will answer with only “yes” or “no”. (Hints may be given by the teachers if necessary.)
- If one class “wins”, they will still answer the questions of the other team.
- Ideas for Play
- The students can hold up “yes” or “no” signs instead of shouting out answers. (You can even make them different colors.)
- Give students Post-its (or other writing options) so they can record different questions to ask the next class.
- Have the students have different jobs:
- Question askers – asks the yes or no questions to the other class
- Recorders – writes down the answers to help the class figure out the animal
- Answer responders – They answer the other class’s questions about their animal.
- Mappers/Researchers – They can use answers from the other location to check maps/Google Maps to find the correct answer.
- Give some time between asking questions – Class A asks a question, Class B asks their question. Both classes take a moment to figure out the next question to ask. (It’s helpful to mute your microphone when not talking so students can choose new questions or talk aloud about possible guesses)
After the game
- Talk with the other class about your state or area (you can agree to different topics before with the cooperating teacher)
- Debrief your class! Talk about what works well and what could have been done better. Talk about the new place you “visited” and then dive deeper if they are interested! (Don’t let the learning stop because the game is over!)