Although I have not participated in these Synergy challenges before, the e-mail from them in my mailbox the other day intrigued me. I think that students would be excited by the Winter Challenge, which is to design and produce a game. The deadline is April 1, 2012. There is no entry fee. See the website for the rules and a great rubric that you might want to download even if you aren’t planning to enter the contest!
I have never been good at building things, or at solving spatial puzzles, for that matter. But Bridge Builder is an intriguing problem-solving game that your students will enjoy. The object is to use the provided triangles to create a bridge for the motorcycle. You can rotate the triangles and change their size, if you wish. This game, though internet based, reminds me of the Bubble Ball app for iDevices I have reviewed in the past. Bridge Builder is part of the website called Toy Theater, which offers many learning activities for younger students in several different subjects.
You Can Do the Rubik’s Cube has a surprising number of resources for using this “toy” for learning. Frustrated by this endless cube of fun? There are downloadable teacher resources that integrate math, as well as solution manuals. There are activities for all ages, including The Candy Game for ages 7-17. In addition to the free materials, there is an education kit available, a t-shirt, and links to competitions for schools and youth groups.
I found out about this site on KB Connected right before the holidays. Karen’s site recommends to “use it to introduce: Historical figures, characters from a book, famous scientists, figures in pop culture etc.” I tried it out myself, and was impressed, so I showed it to my nine-year old daughter – who became obsessed with it! The Akinator tries to “figure out” which character you are thinking of by asking you questions. It slowly narrows down to the correct answer based on the answers you give to its questions. The character can be one from fiction or non-fiction. Of course, there is less of a chance that obscure ones will be guessed correctly. But, you may be surprised by what The Akinator knows! My daughter was thrilled when it guessed the character from The Fablehaven series she had in mind. In addition, if The Akinator guesses incorrectly, you have the option of inputting information about the character to help it to “learn” more.
Be aware that the site does request a name and age. I would recommend that you have your child or student use a nickname, but give a close approximation to his or her real age. The questions change a little for adults and might be considered inappropriate.
Did a child in your family get an iDevice for Christmas? Or, are you a teacher who is desperately trying to find appropriate educational apps for the classroom? It’s difficult to weed through all of the apps listed as “Educational” in the official iTunes App Store, but there are a few other resources you can use. Here are my top three Favorite Sites for Educational App Reviews:
#3: Mindleap – this site, though relatively new, allows you to choose a category or specific grade level to search.
#2: Famigo – specifically designed for the user to find family-oriented apps, and allows you to search in a variety of ways (free or paid, age level, highest rated, most popular, etc…)
#1: Appitic – this site, produced by Apple Distinguished Educators, allows you to browse for apps by: Preschool, Themes, Multiple Intelligences, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Tools. I love that it offers apps based on MI and Bloom’s, encouraging higher order thinking skills.
With the holidays coming up, many parents ask me for educational gifts that I would recommend for their children. “Cart Before the Horse” is one that I would suggest. It is a logic puzzle game that can be played independently or in a small group collaboration (or in a center). It’s for children 8 and up, and comes from www.mindware.com, one of my favorite sources for thinking games and activities. Some other games that I recommend from the site are: Rush Hour, Solitaire Chess, Q-Bitz, Knot So Fast, and Gobblet. These are all games that require logic, strategy, and deductive reasoning – making them great for the classroom or as gifts.