I should probably add Breakout Edu’s Seasonal Games to my “Teachers’ December Survival Kit.” What better way is there to keep your students engaged, learning, and problem-solving than sending them on a holiday quest? You can find 5 Breakout Edu games related to December holidays on this page.
In case you haven’t hear about Breakout Edu yet, here is my first post about the site. Also, don’t forget that there are digital Breakout Edu games that don’t require the physical equipment (boxes, locks, etc…) that are suggested for the regular games. Don’t despair if you want to try a Breakout Edu game and don’t have the supplies. I’ve seen teachers use many creative ways to simulate the boxes and locks with found materials. The students will enjoy working out the puzzles no matter what you use!
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.
When ThinkFun sent me the game Swish to review, I knew right away that it would be a challenge for me. I have a hard time with spatial reasoning – which is why my students can easily leave me in the dust when we play another spatial reasoning game, Set.
There are several differences between Swish and Set, however. First of all, Swish is the second game in my “Gifts for the Gifted” series this year that has transparent cards. (See “Anaxi” for the first.) Although both Set and Swish require you to look closely at the attributes of shapes on the cards and to collect sets that fit certain criteria, the Swish cards’ transparency is strategic because they must be stackable to create winning sets. You must “swish” all of the ball shapes into matching colored hoop shapes on the cards. A swish could consist of two cards, but you may be able to combine even more. (Apparently, you can make a swish of up to 12 cards!)
When our family played the game, my daughter had about 5 pairs of swishes before my husband and I could even get our eyes to focus on the cards. It wasn’t long before she was collecting swishes with 3 or 4 cards stacked on top of each other. Apparently, she is some kind of 14-year-old Swish Savant who isn’t bothered one bit by humiliatingly crushing the parents who brought her into this world;) Fortunately, the creators of the game built in a cunning solution to this, which is that you can differentiate for the ability levels of the players. Foundational players may only need to look for two stackable cards while advanced players can be required to find swishes that contain at least 3 or 4 (or 12!) cards.
Swish is for 2 or more players, ages 8 and up. Younger players may want to begin with Swish, Jr. Swish has won numerous toy awards, and is great for home or the classroom. You can see reviews of more ThinkFun games and others on my Pinterest Board here.
Today’s post is a bit frivolous, but sometimes that can be good, too! I wanted to share with you a game that my students, K-5, have given enthusiastic thumbs up to during the last couple of weeks. “Look Look” is a game from Mindware that is for 2-6 players. If your students like “I Spy” or similar activities, then they will enjoy this. It is a bit more challenging, and sometimes requires basic addition and subtraction skills. Personally, as someone who has no visual/spatial skills, I find this game difficult sometimes. But I’ve noticed that my perception skills have improved as I have played it more.
“Look Look” is a good game for those last couple of weeks before summer vacation as a reward, for indoor recess, or to use in a center to work on basic math facts (by taking out the other cards, you can target those skills.) You could even have higher level students make some multiplication cards, or invent some other fun ways to use the game.
I should probably preface this post by admitting that I have absolutely no artistic talent whatsoever. If I did, my creations on Sketch Nation Studio would be much more entertaining – and I might have included some screenshots on this post. As it is, though, I am pretty certain you will be much more impressed by the actual iTunes photos.
Sketch Nation Studio is a free app for iDevices that allows the user to create a simple app out of his or her own sketches. You do not have to know any programming mumbo jumbo or submit your game for approval. You follow the extremely user-friendly steps and, voila!
Your drawings can be created in the app itself, or you can draw them on paper and upload them to the app. This is where I think the creativity (and superior artistic talent) of my students will shine. You can find ways, I’m sure, of integrating curriculum with this app. But the true value is in the joy of creating and seeing a usable finished product.
It is difficult to describe this mysterious, whimsical game, so I will quote the iTunes summary, “Explore a dream-like world of eleven beautifully-constructed environments in this iPad adaptation of the classic desktop adventure. Equal parts puzzle game, playful toy, and living picture-book, Windosill rewards playful investigation with mysterious and beautiful surprises.”
My nine year old daughter saw me trying to solve a level, and soon we were both deeply engrossed in finding the solution. We completed the game together, and then she wanted to start it over again from the beginning. Her perseverance in trying to puzzle out each level was admirable.
Vectorpark, the company responsible for this game, also has other iOS apps, which you can view here.