I’ve noticed that a popular activity during our COVID-19 pandemic right now is scavenger hunts. My favorite scavenger hunt app is Goosechase, which I wrote about in January of this year. Although I don’t currently have students, I immediately thought of this app when pondering how I would engage my students during online learning. I considered making a GooseChase for other teachers and families to use, but a few others have beat me to the punch – and done much better jobs than I would have done.
First of all, Goosechase itself has begun a “Community Cup 2020” that is open to all to participate. It runs from now until April 3rd, with new missions being added each day. (Apparently the first day included a mission for people to do their best Batman impression, and the video compilation of select submissions is super cute.) The page describing the contest also includes a how-to video in case you are new to Goosechase. Since this is an app that asks for photos and videos of people doing (usually) silly things, please be conscious of privacy issues, especially for minors.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta have also created their own special pandemic-inspired Goosechase. They tweeted that they have one called, “Quarantine Can’t Keep Us Down,” which ends tomorrow, March 26th. You can download the app and do a search for that game title to participate. It has so many missions that I couldn’t count them, and it would definitely be a fun activity for the whole family. According to @BGCMA_Clubs on Twitter, this is just the first of an educational series of scavenger hunts, so follow them on Twitter if you are interested in participating in future hunts.
A friend of mine asked for some chess resources to use with her after-school chess club (elementary-aged), and I thought I would share the ones that I was able to curate. If you have any other suggestions (other than sites where you can play chess online), please comment below.
The game that I like to use to introduce how the chess pieces move is Tic Tac Chec. I just did a search on my blog, and I can’t believe that I’ve never posted about this game before. I used to use it with my Kinder and 1st graders all of the time, and they quickly picked it up. The game board is a wooden 4×4 grid, and the two players each get 4 different chess pieces, one of which they can place or move during their turns. The object is to get 4 of your pieces in a row. If you are captured, you can use your next move to put your piece back on the board. It’s fun to watch the students keep capturing each other, and finally realizing no one can win if that’s all you do!
Solitaire Chess is another game for practicing chess movements without playing the actual game. This one-player game offers scaffolded challenges that show pictures of a 4×4 chess board set up with some pieces. Your goal is to figure out how to move the pieces so that only one is left. Each move must be a “legal” capture. You can also play Solitaire Chess online (make sure you have Flash enabled on your computer), and there is a video tutorial.
For videos, don’t forget the inspirational one, The Magic of Chess, that I shared a couple of weeks ago. Also, Kids Academy has a series of animated videos on YouTube, beginning with Getting to Know the Game.
A few years ago, I wrote a post about a site called, “Puzzle Your Kids.” Hosted by the author of the Puzzling World of Winston Breen series, Eric Berlin (@puzzlereric), “Puzzle Your Kids” provided a free puzzle each week, as well as a $5 monthly subscription for more puzzles. It looks like there have been a few changes, and the site has a new name and new home, along with a new price. It is now called, “Puzzlesnacks.” You can still get a subscription, but it is at the bargain price of $3 per month. Weekly puzzles continue to be free downloads, and there are other puzzle packs you can purchase in the online shop.This page describes the approximate independence level of puzzle solvers, from the age of 8 and up. I highly recommend adults working on these with children, as that type of modeling from my own parents is how I grew up to love logic and problem solving as well as develop a certain amount of perseverance. In fact, my dad and I still semi-compete in solving a weekly mega-Sudoku puzzle that keeps my skills sharpened and my ego humble.
And no, I’m not exactly sure what language the crossword puzzle in the image below is (Greek, maybe?), but I thank the person on Pixabay who shared it.
“Old people shouldn’t be forced to learn chess, but if they want to learn chess surely they can! They’re allowed to,” a young girl assures the interviewer in The Magic of Chess.
“Even though they could be doing something else – like playing Legos,” the young boy next to her adds.
This adorable short film featured on Vimeo will inspire any young student (and maybe some old people) to try the game of chess. The filmmaker, Jenny Schweitzer Bell, captured the many positive aspects of playing chess by interviewing boys and girls at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championship. The children tout the problem solving skills they have learned, and growth mindset is a constant theme. Their passion for the game is truly inspiring!
Sometimes I notice recurrent themes in my Twitter feed and start bookmarking them. This morning, I saw a few tweets related to using board games for learning, and thought I would share them with you. The first one is from Maria Copete (@copeteworld), who uses Monopoly to teach her students about American Capitalism. Just in case you are unable to view the tweet I’ve embedded below, she shared a great Google Slide show to go along with the lesson here.
For those of you who want to encourage families to spend more time playing games together, I like this idea from Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd), where he mentions that his school partnered with a toy store to donate games to be played that evening, and sold them at the event.
Whether focused on specific topics, such as economic systems, or to develop skills such as strategic thinking and problem solving, board games can serve as opportunities for engaging students and bringing communities together.
Looking back on my blog posts, I see that I’ve never devoted one to Flippity even though I’ve used it for various reasons the last couple of years. If you haven’t tried Flippity and you like user-friendly tech tools, you should definitely visit the site. When I first started using it, it was basically an easy way to turn a Google Spreadsheet into flashcards. Since then, it has added many more features – all for free.
Leslie Fisher reminded me to take another look at Flippity when she mentioned a few of the newer additions to the site. There is a now a Timeline and a Typing Test. You can also make a Scavenger Hunt (which is similar to a Digital Breakout, but much easier to create!). I am eager to try the Badge Tracker for our Maker Space. I also noticed that there is a Flippity Add-On for Chrome if you are interested.
Each activity offers you a template that you can copy to your Drive. Follow the instructions on the template and/or the website by typing information into the correct cells. Publish your spreadsheet, get the link, and the magic happens.
Don’t forget that your students can also create with Flippity. Though most of the templates are not going to promote deep learning, they are great opportunities for students to practice skills in novel ways.
Stanford’s d.school is one of my go-to resources for anything creative, so I was a bit surprised when I found this particular one completely by accident. I was looking for unique team-building tools, and “Stoke Deck” popped up. This free printable has 28 different activities that will help students to “Boost Energy, Create Focus, Get Personal, Nurture Camaraderie, and Communicate Mindsets.” They are each short exercises that can be used before starting a lesson – or even as a quick break during instruction. Some of them, like “Blind Disco,” may require some an established history of trust before you try them. Others, like “Long Lost Friends,” might be good for introductions. Almost all of them were new to me, so I can’t wait to try them!