One of the more abstract aspects of Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game is the presence of the "mind game": a video game that Ender plays on his desk. The mind game is implemented by the Battle School in order to give insight into the thought process of the students. Ender's experience with the mind game is wrought with symbolism. In this activity, students will create a map of the mind game in order to explore the symbolism between landmarks and Ender's journey.
This lesson can be implemented into any unit that focuses on Ender's Game. During Chapter 6, Ender first begins interacting with the mind game. Whether this chapter is read individually or as a class, comprehension and understanding can be reinforced with this group activity. Students should be placed into small groups (2-4 students) based on ability, and should be given a sheet of paper. This sheet can range in size from letter-size to posterboard and will act as the group's map of the mind game.
As explained on the first worksheet, the map should be split in half to account for the two portions of the activity. Chapter 6 consists of Ender reaching and defeating the "Giant's Drink" portion of the mind game, so the first half of the map will conclude with Ender's arrival in Fairlyland. Students should include four landmarks in this first half along with a quote to support the existence of the landmark. Including a quote enforces the idea of providing evidence to back up claims. Certain roles should be given to students to make sure all contribute; each student can be assigned a certain landmark, or certain students can focus on finding evidence while others contribute to the more creative aspects of the map.
After completing the following chapter (Chapter 7,) students should complete the second half of the map leading up to Ender's arrival at "The End of the World." Afterwards, a full map will be completed. Although not included in the worksheets, having students present and compare their maps is a great opportunity to bolster public speaking skills and highlight differences when interpreting literature.
Expanding with Symbolism
For higher-level students, elaborating on the symbolism of particular landmarks in the book is an excellent way to extend thinking. This component can be added through a public speaking component or an additional written assignment. In particular, The Giant's Drink, Fairlyland, and The End of the World hold important symbolic significance in the book. Additionally, the way Ender reacts to these events reveals a lot about his character.