Brain Games

One of my colleagues, Ginny Daniels, mentioned this fascinating show on National Geographic, and I had to look it up for myself.  Apparently, I missed the airing of the episodes, but National Geographic has video clips available online, as well as some games and other resources to challenge your own perceptions.  One of the fascinating episodes has a clip involving “fooling your brain” using a rubber hand.  If nothing else, this site shows how important it is for us to think about our thinking.


Word Search Creator, Jr.

Word Search Creator, Jr. is one of the many interactives available on  This particular game allows the user to type in ten words that are eight letters or less.  It then generates one-line horizontal word searches for each word.  This would be a great way to differentiate for those younger students who know their spelling words backwards and forwards, or who might want to do a little independent research and create a list of their own.  This game has a dragon, who guides the user through the steps, including the creation step which allows the student to decide if the activity will be done on the computer or printed out.

While you are visiting Word Search Creator, Jr., check out the other activities available on  They offer fun, educational games for K-5, and they even have apps for iDevices.

Interactive Bulletin Board

Interactive QR Code Bulletin Board (QR Codes are in the bottom right corners of each picture.)

Inspired by a post that I referenced last November regarding transliterate QR codes, I decided to experiment with the idea myself.  My GT 4th graders were working on poetry, and they are always glad to incorporate art into their projects.  They created pictures to represent their poems, and I recorded them narrating their poetry.  After posting the narrations on my website, I created a QR code for the unique URL for each narration.  On our hallway bulletin board, I posted their art and poetry.  However, I did not match them together.  I challenged viewers to try to figure out which art accompanied each poem.  They could then check their answers by scanning the QR codes in the corner of each artwork to hear the correct poem being narrated.  In addition, I created two online polls, which also had QR codes posted on the board, so participants could vote on their favorite artwork and poetry.

As not every classroom has a device for scanning QR codes, I invited the other teachers in my wing to borrow our iPads so their students could participate.  Today was the first day, and the students seemed to be enthusiastically scanning the board.  My 4th graders are excited that others are taking such note of their work, and can’t wait to find out the results of the polls.

The one glitch we have encountered so far is that a teacher was using a community area for testing, and the noise of the narrations was distracting.  A quick addition of headphones to the iPad fixed that, though.

I have many other ideas for extending this that I hope to try out during the rest of the school year.  I will report back periodically with our progress.

You Can Do the Rubik’s Cube

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.


The mysterious Fibonacci pattern can be a great way to hook students into both math and science. Here is a fun video from YouTube that shows the connection, and a link to some Fibonacci lesson plans integrating music.

Direct YouTube Link:

200 Ways to Show What You Know

200 Ways to Show What You Know, brought to you by John Davitt from, is a simple tool for generating ideas for products.  In other words, it gives suggestions for different ways to “show what you know.”  This allows the student to see that there are other options for projects besides Powerpoint presentations and papers.  If you, as the teacher, don’t feel comfortable in giving your students quite that much freedom (particularly since they may not be familiar with or at the maturity level to complete some of them), you could use the generator yourself, and narrow their choices down to a few that appeal to you for assessment possibilities.  Then, it might be easier for you to create accompanying rubrics with your expectations.

Exercise and Learning

My colleague, P.E. coach Sean Stepan, brought this to my attention the other day.  Coincidentally, this has been on my mind lately – particularly as I am currently in the middle of testing very squirmy Kindergarten students for Gifted and Talented.  I had been talking to several people lately about the need to rethink the design of the classroom, and this ABC News report fits in nicely with that idea.

If the embedded video does not work, here is the YouTube link:

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