Tag Archives: games

Quarantine Can’t Keep Us Down!

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.

For teachers who are interested in making your own Goosechases, the company is offering free-of-charge upgrades to the Educator Plus tier of the GooseChase EDU platform for the duration of the shutdown for all teachers.

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https://pixabay.com/photos/wash-hands-corona-disinfection-4941746/

Chess Resources

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.

Here are some other online chess challenges:

UIL Texas has this printable packet of mini-games for teaching chess.

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.

Want to use chess for an integrated lesson, where students design their own chess pieces and/or boards?  This is a great lesson plan from Scopes-DF.

If you aren’t convinced of the educational benefits of teaching chess to young children, this article may help you to learn more!

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Puzzlesnacks

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.

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Image by Thanasis Papazacharias from Pixabay

The Magic of Chess

“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!

I am adding this delightful video to my Inspirational Videos Pinterest Board.

The Magic of Chess from Jenny Schweitzer Bell on Vimeo.

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Image by Ally Laws from Pixabay

Board Games for Learning

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.

In one of  the responses to the tweet, Sofia Georgelos (@SofiaGeorgelos) shared a document that she uses with the Game of Life, where she asks her students to change the rules to reflect Communism instead of Capitalism.

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.

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Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

Gifts for the Gifted 2018 – Turing Tumble

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.

This year, I have decided to do my annual “Gifts for the Gifted” posts all in one week.  This should give anyone who likes to shop ahead of time a good start!  For yesterday’s suggestion, click here.

While yesterday’s gift suggestion could conceivably be used with anyone over 4 years old – and with groups of 2 to whatever – today’s game is a bit more limited.  Turing Tumble is a game I originally backed on Kickstarter, and was excited to finally receive this past summer.  You definitely don’t want to buy it for any child who is still in the “I-see-it-so-I-can-eat-it” phase due to the many small parts.  It’s also not very practical to use with large groups.  You can read my full review here. (It appears that it is currently unavailable on Amazon, but the Turing Tumble website has it in stock.)

So, who should receive Turing Tumble for a gift?  Children and adults who are interested in machines and logical challenges would be the most likely to enjoy Turing Tumble.  I personally think that it is best played with a few family members taking turns with the challenges.  My experience with similar games that could potentially be played alone is that children often give up too quickly.  They need adults to model the perseverance and problem-solving needed – and to cheer them on when they succeed.  Quite frankly, it’s kind of fun for the adults to get some encouragement, too 😉

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image of Paul and Alyssa Boswell with their invention, from Turing Tumble Press Kit

Gifts for the Gifted 2018 – Disruptus

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.

This year, I have decided to do my annual “Gifts for the Gifted” posts all in one week.  This should give anyone who likes to shop ahead of time a good start!

I originally reviewed Disruptus in February of this year.  At the time, I was teaching K-5 elementary students in a pull-out gifted and talented program.  I am happy to say, now that I have been teaching middle and high school students as well, that this game seems to appeal to players of all ages.  Be forewarned, though.  In general, the older the player, the more time he or she will need to warm up.  Years of being trained to give one right answer has a tendency to discourage wild thinking.  But you will notice a subtle shift if you play long enough – as crazy ideas that might have never been voiced begin to appear in the responses.

In a world where we are finally realizing the value of creativity, Disruptus is an excellent way to encourage unique ideas.  Whether being played in the classroom or at the family table, Disruptus emboldens participants to turn off their filters of practicality. Players must develop innovative ideas based on the cards that are drawn and the instruction on the cube, and “safe” answers rarely win.

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Disruptus