Underground Railroad basics with factual info interspersed
Community Review for The Underground Railroad: In the Ohio River Valley
The Underground Railroad in the Ohio River Valley is an online game that provides a strong, basic introductory story for students who already possess some foundational knowledge about slavery.
The game includes mentions of actual participants in the Underground Railroad and provides their historical backgrounds, which was the most fascinating part of the game.
The most informative and educational components were the introduction and conclusion to the game, but there is no way to ensure that students are actually completing these portions.
The Underground Railroad in the Ohio River Valley requires "Unity" video player, which takes some time to install on multiple student computers; I had seventeen students installing it simultaneously, and it took at least fifteen minutes.
Once the player is installed, the game is minimally engaging and takes about twenty minutes to complete.
The graphics are primitive and do not offer a full screen option.
The object of the game is for the player, who has assumed the role of a runaway slave, to make it to Canada and freedom.
Players must look out for their own safety through experiences such as crossing rivers or venturing into towns where they may be captured.
The game provides players with a graphic of the county through which they pass, but there is no large view map, so players have no perspective on where they are geographically or how far they have traveled.
Overall, the game, which is reminiscent of the original Oregon Trail, is informative for students with a basic working knowledge of slavery and can be completed within one class period, but the graphics are less than impressive and students may have a hard time staying engaged.
How I Use It
The Underground Railroad in the Ohio River Valley was developed by students at Ball State University and is one component of an entire unit of study geared toward fourth graders on the topic of the Underground Railroad.
This unit is available on the game website and provides detailed lesson plans, assessments with rubrics, and extensive lists of resources.
Teachers who are looking for an entire unit may consider using this game as prescribed by the game's creators as part of the larger unit of study.
For teachers who are simply seeking ways to incorporate new strategies into their current slavery units, or for teachers of students older than fourth grade, this game could be completed by students at home as an enrichment activity.
Teachers should bear in mind that the installation of the Unity video player could be time consuming, so preparation of computers should be considered in advance.