Common Sense Review
Updated June 2012

A Sailor's Life for Me

Low production values hinder kids reliving War of 1812
Common Sense Rating 2
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • The homepage of A Sailor's Life for Me: Sail to Victory
  • A series of questions sparks background knowledge.
  • A map of the USS Constitution is the main launching point for activities.
  • Kids earn points for the work you do on the ship.
  • The teacher's section gives overview of activities for students.
  • Lesson plans and extension activity suggestion are available.
Pros
Humor is sprinkled liberally thoughought the instructions.
Cons
Graphics are dull and not very engaging.
Bottom Line
It might work as a companion resource as you cover the War of 1812, but it's unlikely to hold attention for long.
Graphite Staff
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Low-quality graphics create a significant hurdle to reeling kids in, and games are limited in what they ask kids to do.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Plopping players into the role of menial laborer is a clever way of helping them connect to the experience.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Explanations for activities are clear, written out, and explained in audio, complete with seafaring soundtracks. It's not easy to find help if a player gets confused, though.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Role-playing games can help get kids in the mindset of the game's characters. Ask students to write from the point of view of the sailors in the game. What did they think about the conditions in which they lived? Was it worth it? What other jobs might they have done at the time?

Given the narrow focus of A Sailor's Life for Me, it seems like it would be best used as a one-shot activity in conjunction with the study of the military in history or the War of 1812.

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What's It Like?

A Sailor's Life for Me is an online component to the museum exhibit for the Boston-based USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides. Kids get to experience what it was like to be a new sailor on board the famous ship. From choosing what clothing to wear (on a budget) to performing the myriad menial tasks of a typical sailor, players gain experience and points in order to get a better job on board.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Kids will get a solid sense of what it was like to be on an historic battleship as they scrub the deck, load the gunpowder into the cannons, and carry a bowl of sloppy food through the hallways to the mess hall. But the low-quality graphics and slow-paced activities might make this a difficult sell for students accustomed to livelier experiences.

Text, audio, and screenshots at the outset show kids how to begin and master each level. Once in the game, though, there aren't many choices. You just follow the game's linear navigation. Gameplay itself is minimal and really just serves as a means of getting players to the next series of facts and tidbits about the USS Constitution and other pieces of American history. A tally of experience points and money earned is located at the top of the screen. Even if kids aren't drawn in, they'll learn about the importance of hard work. The more you play, the better the job you can get on the ship.

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