Empathy Land instructions:
Empathy Land is an interactive board game played by three to six students. Through sharing habits and guessing whether these are true or false, students gain awareness and understanding about each others’ at-home habits. Empathy Land is followed by a classroom discussion to amplify, share and review the lessons learned.
- Players develop awareness and understanding of differences and similarities in the cultural habits and values of classmates.
- Players gain insight into differences, subcultures and gray areas.
- Players realize that habits and behavior are often an expression of deeper cultural values.
Players: 4 – 6 players per game board
50 minutes / Optional: 10-20 minutes extra
- Group formation and instruction from teacher (10 minutes)
- Playing Empathy Land (25 minutes)
- Classroom discussion (15 minutes)
- The game board for every group
- A set of game cards for every group
- One die (if no dice are available, students can use the “dice roller” on their smartphone via google)
- Player pieces
- Blank A4 papers (one per group, cut into pieces per player)
Step 1: Preparation
- For the teacher: It is recommended that the teacher reads all the cards in order to be able to manage the classroom discussion at the end of the game. Further, if the teacher wants to link the habits described on the game cards to a conversation about the basic differences between cultures, he / she should read the Hofstede dimensions; or visit this website: www.geerthofstede.com.
- For the students: Take the blank A4 papers and cut them into 4 or 6 pieces depending on the amount of players. Make sure each player has one piece of paper and writes “True” on one side and “False” on the other
Step 2: Instructions
The teacher may start by describing to the students the aim: The aim of the game is to get to know each other better and to discuss differences in usage and habits. Differences that may just be there and which are fun and useful to know of each other.
- The game begins with one player (“the storyteller”) picking a card and reading it out to the group.
- The other players decide if this statement is “True” or “False” for the home life of the storyteller.
- Once everyone has voted by holding up “True” or “False”, the storyteller reveals the answer.
- The player(s) that answered correctly get to roll the dice and move that many spaces, clockwise around the board.
- The player(s) that answered incorrectly doesn’t get to roll the dice.
- The storyteller always gets to roll the dice regardless of correct/incorrect guesses.
- In the case that no players guess correctly, the storyteller gets to pick another card and the other players vote again.
- If a player lands on an airplane, the player gets to jump forward to the indicated space.
- If a player lands on a submarine, the player has to go back to the indicated space.
- The player that reaches #50 first wins the game.
- Alternatively, to increase the playing time: a rule can be made that the player must roll the die such that they land exactly on #50 (not surpassing it), and if the player rolls too high a number has to go backwards down the board that amount of spaces.
Step 3: Discussion
- The teacher asks a number of questions and leads a group learning conversation with the class. Possible questions:
- What did you notice? (start with open questions)
- Are there things that have surprised you?
- Was it always the same for everyone in your group?
- Where were the differences? If it was an issue with one or more groups, the teacher can ask:
- How did you deal with these differences?
- Could that have gone differently; how did other groups deal with similar issues?
- How do things go at times when people want to do things differently than the majority?
- Here the teacher can pay extra attention to exclusion and freedom of expression:
- Did everyone dare to say how he / she is doing at home?
- How would you respond if you were in the minority?
- What do you think of those differences?
- Where do you think the differences come from? (male / female relationships; division of labor at home; hygiene rules; differences in religion; obedience and discipline etc.)