Tag Archives: apps

Spaceteam Revisited

It has been about 4 years since I first wrote about Spaceteam, and there have been a few changes since then.  The app is now available on both Google Play and iOS, and there can now be up to 8 people involved in a single game.  What hasn’t changed is that it is still fun!

When you play Spaceteam, everyone playing must be on the same wi-fi network.  Once all of the players get past the “Waiting Room” in the app, each person gets a different dashboard with gadgets that usually have gibberish labels.  In order to get to the next level, instructions must be followed.  However, the instructions on your screen are usually for other players – so you must call them out.  This means you will be shouting out ridiculous sounding directions such as, “Turn off the novacrit!” with the hope that the player who has a “novacrit” will hear you and turn it off.  Not all of the commands are gibberish, however.  It’s funny listening to someone impatiently yelling, “Darn the socks! Someone needs to darn the socks!”

Due to the unusual vocabulary, this game is best suited for 4th grade and up.  The app has a 9+ rating, but I have not seen anything inappropriate pop up on the screens.  The biggest danger seems to be that people might inadvertently pronounce something incorrectly.

Why play this app in your classroom?  Well, it’s a great brain break.  It’s also fun for team building.  In addition, it can be the introduction to a great conversation about listening.  One of the things my students learned was that, when you expect to hear one thing and someone says something else, you may miss it.  (This happens a lot in Spaceteam due to differences in perceived word pronunciations.)  They also learned that little can be accomplished when a lot of people are yelling, and that communication is definitely more difficult in high-pressure situations.

Spaceteam also has a Spaceteam ESL app designed specifically to help English language learners work on vocabulary.  Again, there is a lot of shouting involved, but it beats memorizing word lists.

For many of us, the end of the school year is drawing near.  If you are looking for novel ways to keep student interest, you may want to try Spaceteam.

Gifts for the Gifted 2016 – Osmo Coding

A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.

gifts

Osmo first made the “Gifts for the Gifted” list in 2014.  Since then, the company has continued to push the envelope as it produces more interactive, educational games for children that combine physical pieces with the digital interface of an iPad.  Here is what I wrote about Osmo’s “Coding” game this summer:

It seems like just yesterday when our class was asked to beta test a new product from a company called Tangible Play.  It was a tangram game that integrated physical pieces with an app on your iPad using a special base and mirror.  Our students even got to teleconference with the developers to give feedback on their experience.

Since then, the un-named set we tested has become Osmo, and there have been many evolutions of the tangram game as well as new additions to the suite of games available.  It has been gratifying to see a company that is so interested in education to grow and continue to contribute to educational technology in such a positive way.

The latest Osmo set is, “Coding.”  My students have been trying it out this summer during our robot camp, and I have been watching their play with interest.  The set includes magnetics blocks that look similar to the coding blocks you might see in Scratch or Blockly.  You can move them around and snap them together.  My students particularly like the “play” block with an arrow button to press whenever they are ready to start the program.

On the iPad screen, players have a friendly looking creature named Awbie, who they can direct to move toward different objects in the app while using the physical blocks on the table.

One thing I love about all of the Osmo apps is that they include practically no instructions.  There are some on-screen gestures showing where to move blocks at the beginning, but that’s about it.  The students figure out on their own where Awbie needs to go, and quickly deduce which blocks to use as the game slowly becomes more challenging.

Students from 6-11 have enjoyed the Coding game from Osmo and there is often a crowd gathered around it as the students encourage players to try certain blocks.  It has been a great warm-up activity as kids arrive for our camp each day.

Like all Tangible Play apps for Osmo, Coding is free.  However, you do need to purchase the physical pieces and the set that includes the base and mirror piece if you don’t already have it.  Coding is another great resource to introduce programming to young students.

Osmo Coding
Osmo Coding

GoNoodle Has an App!

My students, particularly those in the K-3 grade levels, have really enjoyed using GoNoodle for brain breaks in our classroom.  The kids enjoy the music, the great variety of videos, and the movement.

Now students can log in to their own iOS devices at home to jump, dance, and sing with their favorite GoNoodle tunes. The iOS app is free, but students will need a parent to sign up and log them in the first time.  Make sure the child has a good place to set up his or her device for viewing while participating (an Apple TV is great for this!) so he or she can have hands-free fun!

GoNoodle is a great way to get the family moving before or after a heavy holiday meal, or after a long car trip to grandma’s house 🙂

Download the free GoNoodle app now!
Download the free GoNoodle app for iOS now!

Halloween Treats That Won’t Give You Cavities

As if American politics aren’t scary enough, the United States celebrates Halloween next Monday, which is all kind of wrong – because spending a day with students who can’t wait to trick-or-treat plus 4 more days after they fill up on sugary candy should not be required of any teacher if you are at all interested in helping him or her maintain a semblance of sanity.

The president I would vote for would resolve to make Halloween on a Saturday for the rest of eternity, but so far I haven’t seen that mentioned in anyone’s campaign.

For those of you who are in the same boat (or should I say, riding the same broom?), here are some resources I’ve collected in the past that might help to briefly engage your students in something other than daydreaming about all of the candy they will need to confess to eating at their next dental appointment:

Check back tomorrow for another virtual pumpkin carving idea!

Click her to get to the free QuiverVision Augmented Reality Pumpkin download
Click here to get to the free QuiverVision Augmented Reality Pumpkin download

 

 

Piano Tiles

Piano Tiles (Don’t Tap the White Tile) is a free app, available on iTunes and Google Play.  The name of the game is pretty self-explanatory.  As black and white tiles fall down the screen, your job is to tap the black tiles only.  The black tiles will make the sounds of music notes as you tap them.  The faster you can play without hitting a white tile, the better.  I’d never heard of the game until I saw this article in one of my Flipboard magazines, featuring a pretty amazing setup invented to “beat” the game like no human would ever be able to do.  To be perfectly honest, the video pretty much discouraged me from ever even trying to play the game – at least not until I get some bionic eyes and fingers.

screen shot from Piano Tiles app
screen shot from Piano Tiles app

Stop!

Well, it’s Phun Phriday again.  Once a week I post something that has pretty much no educational value, but somehow struck me as interesting during the week.  This week’s post is about an app called, “Stop.”

My daughter likes to turn me on to apps that are trending with her and her friends.  “You probably haven’t heard of it yet, but you’re going to hear about it soon,” is the way she usually prefaces these announcements.

Stop is a free trivia app available on iOS and Android.  The game is rated for 12+.  When you play, you can choose to play someone you know or a random opponent in cyberspace, which is one reason you might not want to introduce the app to younger students.

To start a game, the app randomly selects categories for you.  You can use points to change the categories if you want.  Some sample categories are: “Things you can’t bring on a plane,” “Things that you hide,” or, “My boss is…”

You then spin for a letter.  Again, you can use points to spin again if you don’t like the letter.  Once your letter is chosen, you must try to name something in each category that begins with that letter.  When finished, you pull down the “Stop” bar.  The ending time is the amount of time your opponent is given to answer the same categories with the same letters.

You can receive no points, half points (if it’s spelled incorrectly), full points, or extra points (if it’s a rare word).  Whoever scores the most points on that group of categories wins the round.  Then your opponent begins play for the next round, sending the categories he or she selected, along with the letter and time limit, to you.

Some people have the strategy to just answer one question and pull the Stop bar down, giving their opponents only a few seconds to try to beat their answer (which you won’t see until after your turn is over).  You don’t know how much time you will have if you are the 2nd person to play that round.

As my daughter predicted, I love the game.  I am absolutely terrible at it, but I keep playing – sometimes just to make my daughter laugh with the horrible answers I enter 🙂

images from Stop screen shots
images from Stop screen shots

stop1

 

The Winter Break Survival Guide for Parents

For many families, the second week of Winter Break is when boredom kicks in.  New gifts and games have lost their luster.  No one wants to return to school or work – but lack of structure is beginning to feel less like freedom and more of a chore as everyone tries to find ways to fill up endless hours of do-nothingness.

If the above paragraph describes you, here are some suggestions for making the next week less daunting

  • Winter Break Challenge – For a fun idea that might tear your child away from a screen for awhile, give them a bunch of old board games and let them “re-mix” them to come up with something new.
  • Logical Journey of the Zoombinis – This fabulous game that will teach your child logic and problem-solving skills is available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.  There is a cost, but it is well worth the price.
  • Apps for Creation – Here are some FREE apps I recommended last year for creation that are still some of my favorites.
  • Makey Makey Something! – If your child got a Makey Makey for Christmas, this post might inspire him or her with some ideas for projects that go beyond the banana piano.
  • Design a Marble Run – Here are 10 ideas for DIY marble runs made from household materials.
  • Build with Slotted Disks – Use the templates to cut out your own disks for building out of cardboard or other sturdy paper.

For more ideas, check out DIY.org and Design Squad.  Also, don’t forget to read my latest, “Gifts for the Gifted” post for the most valuable present you can give your child.

Your Winter Break Challenge