Valiant Hearts is a superb puzzle game set during the First World War. The game follows the lives of a collection of characters in different circumstances who are all caught up in the conflict, but this is far from your normal wargame.
This year will see schools around the country give some serious time to teaching children all about the First World War. It’s Centenary and the New Curriculum fit the topic perfectly.
When planning a topic any primary school teacher will tell you that a good place to start is to find good resources. These can spark lesson ideas and give teachers valuable subject knowledge that they might not otherwise have.
Valiant Hearts is a resource that many teachers will not be aware of, most will turn to books, TV documentaries or websites. But a game like Valiant Hearts can be a really great help to a teacher planning a WWI topic.
Factual information is provided frequently during Valiant Hearts and is always related to the current situation you are in, be that entering a zeppelin facility, on a French farm, in a prison camp or in the trenches.
This factual information is really well presented; it is always accompanied by a photo and the information is short and to the point. This information does provide the most obvious source of education in the game but personally I think it has more to offer.
The best uses of Valiant Hearts as an educational resource is the way that it presents the world and in the puzzles themselves.
Trying to describe the look and feel of the world during WWI to children is incredibly difficult. Looking at photos will of course help as well as reading first hand accounts of what it was like. But Valiant Hearts provides a great way of exploring the French landscape during the conflict.
The fact that the world has been turned into a cartoon style does not spoil it’s ability to communicate the world it adds to it. The art style makes it more accessible to children and has allowed the artists to accentuate certain aspects of the aesthetic.
Playing the game allows children to walk through Parisian streets, explore people’s homes, walk through the trenches, admire people’s fashion, creep through a prison camp and much more. This hands on approach to explore WWI is far more engaging than flicking through a textbook.
The other aspect of Valiant Hearts that is a great resource to have in the classroom is the problem solving. Problem solving is of great importance and forms a key part of the numeracy curriculum. Valiant Hearts’ puzzles are great because they provide such a different form of problem to solving to that which we can usually offer in school.
Cross curricular topics are popular in most schools so using Valiant Hearts could easily help with far more than just the factual history side of the topic. The artwork begs to be reproduced in art lessons, creating extra characters in a similar style. Letters and diaries from the characters are in the game already and could form a great part of your literacy work. The puzzling would be great to support numeracy work.
It is certainly a great potential resource for teachers who are keen for a different approach to their World War I work this year.