Grade Levels: 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 7-12, students play Lakeland, a game that introduces them to the complex relationship between farming, soil nutrition, and lake pollution. In the game, students are in charge of building their own town, adding houses and farms, exporting produce, and managing resources like food, money, and manure.  

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explore the dynamics of nutrient system.
  2. Balance farming and business demands with sustainability needs
  3. Recognize the impact humans have.
  4. Visualize complex relationships.


  • Computers or other devices with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard


This lesson plan features a game called Lakeland, developed by our partner, Field Day Lab. The game challenges students to balance farming and business demands with sustainability and happiness. Preview and play Lakeland to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be playing in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations. Read Lakeland: SnapThought Prompts for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play. Assign Lakeland to the whole class using the Assignment Builder. Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:
  • 1:1 with students and devices
  • Two to three students sharing one device and swapping ideas and the device back and forth.
  • Station model where small groups rotate through using the devices.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Tell students that today they will play a game in which they will build a new town called Lakeland, but that to do this successfully, they will need to balance farming and business demands with sustainability and happiness.
  2. Explain that to do this successfully, they will need to provide food and resources.
  3. To prepare students for the game, you may want to review the water and nitrogen cycles, as that’s both play a role in farming. Show the movie(s) Water Cycle and/or Nitrogen Cycle on the whiteboard.
  4. After the movie, project the game Lakeland on the whiteboard. Provide some guidance by modeling the first few steps. Suggest that students pay attention to the advisors who guide them through early parts of the game, giving pointers about strategy, goals, and how to use the Lakeland game tools. If you’d like, you can complete the introduction as a class and answer any questions students might have about how to play.  Tell the class that working to figure out how to play is part of the fun and that it’s okay to experiment, fail, and start again.  
  5. Now have students play the game at their own devices. Circulate as they play and help as needed. If students have individual logins, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots and describe their thinking as they play.  For suggested prompts, see Lakeland: SnapThought Prompts.  
  6. As students build their towns, encourage them to pay attention to sustainability: note that fertilizer helps with farming, but runoff can pollute lake water. This, in turn, can make humans very ill. Remind students that time in the game is compressed so that students will see the long-term effects of runoff.
  7. Finally, bring the class together to discuss and review what they learned. If students used SnapThought, encourage them to share their reflections.