Tag Archives: games

Valentine’s Day Breakout EDU

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  If you teach in any country that annually celebrates this day, then you know that getting your students to focus will probably be somewhat of a challenge.  You might as well join in the fun – in an educational way, of course.  I’ve already posted this year’s list of Valentine’s Day resources, but wanted to let you know that I will be adding these seasonal Breakout Edu games to the list.  “Anti-Love Potion #9” is designed for elementary students, and, “Where in the World is Valentino/Cupid?” targets middle and high schools.  “Holiday Hijinks” connects to a few different holidays, including Valentine’s Day, and can be used with 2nd-6th grades.

If you haven’t registered with Breakout EDU yet, you can go to this page.  Registering is free, and you need to do so in order to get the password that will give you full access to the games.  And, just in case you haven’t read my original post on Breakout EDU, here you go 🙂

vdaymm
image from: Wikimedia

Anything But Jeopardy

Many of my 4th graders embarked on the “Presentation Planning” stage of their Genius Hour projects this week.  I require their presentations include an interactive portion for the audience.  When they saw “game show” as one of the choices, that became an instant favorite.  The problem with this is that the default game show format for my students always seems to be “Jeopardy.”  There is nothing wrong with Jeopardy, but I’ve been guiding Genius Hour projects for several years, and would like to see a little more variety in this area.

Thankfully, I obsessively save websites to look at later with my Pocket app, and recalled there was a blog post about game shows.  Although the post was written with teachers in mind as the hosts, many of the suggestions in “30 Activities Inspired by Game Shows” are ones that could be used by students.

Another possibility would be to encourage the students to create their own game show format.  You never know who in your class might be the next Merv Griffin!

Jeopardy
image from Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

 

 

A List of More Lists You Just Can’t Resist

It is, of course, impossible to review all of the amazing educational toys out there.  My Gifts for the Gifted series is not nearly as expansive as some of the other lists that you can find this time of year.  Just in case you don’t find something that you think your child/student/niece/nephew/ would like on my list, here are some others that I plan to use for my own shopping ideas:

Stay tuned on Friday for another installment of this year’s Gifts for the Gifted!

Design Your Own Marble Maze
Design Your Own Marble Maze

Gifts for the Gifted 2016 – Clue Master

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

My annual “Gifts for the Gifted” lists wouldn’t be complete without at least one game from ThinkFun.  This company is one of my favorite sources for entertaining educational games and my students always enjoy reviewing new ones as well as playing the classics.

Clue Master is one of ThinkFun’s newer products.  It’s a “logical deduction” game that is somewhat like Sudoku.  Although it is labeled as a single-player game, my students and I like to play in pairs, alternating puzzles.  Designed for ages 8 and up, it does one of the things that ThinkFun does best with games like this – scaffolding. The challenges slowly increase in difficulty so that anyone can work through them at their own pace without feeling bored or frustrated.

The game puzzles and solutions are contained in a sturdy book, and you will also find 9 magnetic tokens, a game grid, and instructions in the box.  Each challenge gives you a picture of the grid with some clues to the locations of each of the tokens.  The player’s job is to use the clues to deduce where all of the tokens should be placed.

The graphics have the pixelated look of Minecraft, which immediately draws the attention of young people.  Don’t be fooled, however.  Adults will have just as much fun trying to solve the challenges once they skip through the beginning puzzles.  Spatial reasoning is definitely a requirement in addition to logic, and many of us can use a bit more practice in both.

With these types of games, I’ve found that part of the appeal to my young partners is for them to see me struggle through it.  I also enjoy when they verbalize their thought processes and come to the realization that all of these can be solved through reasoning – not guess & check.  This is why I would recommend that, if you purchase Clue Master as a gift, you make plans to enjoy it with the recipient instead of expecting him or her to go off an play it alone.  Both of you will find the experience much more rewarding.

For more game recommendations, check out my Pinterest Board, which includes more products from ThinkFun as well as other great companies.

Clue Master from ThinkFun
Clue Master from ThinkFun

Gifts for the Gifted 2016 – Anaxi

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

I found Anaxi at Marbles: the Brain Store when I was hunting for a gift for my 13-year-old daughter.  We both love word games, so Anaxi caught my eye with its, “Connecting Words in Surprising Ways” subtitle.

Anaxi is for 2-6 players, ages 8-99.  I could actually see it being played in the classroom, especially with my gifted students, with some minor rule adjustments (particularly the time limit).

In the box you will find a 1-minute-timer, instructions, and round, translucent cards in 3 different colors.  There are also 2 “base” cards to help you place the colored cards in the correct positions for each round of play.

A round consists of choosing a card of each color, placing them on the base card so they form a Venn diagram, and then trying to name as many people, places, or things that you can which connect overlapping cards.  After a minute is up (which I recommend changing to longer time periods if the players are elementary school age), you receive a point for each answer that connects 2 overlapping cards, and 4 points for the ones that connect all 3 cards – but you only receive points for unique answers.  If anyone else has the same answer, it is eliminated.  You can see a more detailed explanation in the video below.

Anaxi slightly reminds me of Apples to Apples as both games require the players to make connections, and there is opportunity for a lot of creativity.  There is also opportunity for a lot of arguing, which you might want to address before you begin a game.

Anaxi would be fun for a family game night – maybe giving adults a one-minute time limit and giving children 5 minutes to level the playing field.

You can find Anaxi at Marbles: the Brain Store
You can find Anaxi at Marbles: the Brain Store

Mental Floss Quizzes

For this week’s Phun Phriday post, I want to call your attention to the Mental Floss Quizzes page.  Some people may not label taking a quiz as particularly fun, but I enjoy stressing myself over these quick brain challenges.  My latest obsession is “Finish the Country Names,” which I still haven’t managed to complete.  Despite the efforts of my extremely demanding college geography professors, there are still apparently some countries that I’ve never heard of (Burkina Faso?) or can’t spell (Bosnia Herzegovina).  Right now I’m at 35/48, but I’m determined to get all of them! This is my way of challenging my growth mindset…

Not yet...
Not yet…

Back to School Games from Breakout Edu

In this Education Week article, “10 Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School,” by Nancy Flanagan, she gives the following advice:

“Don’t make Day One “rules” day. Your classroom procedures are very important, a hinge for functioning productively, establishing the relationships and trust necessary for individual engagement and group discussions. Introduce these strategies and systems on days when it’s likely your students will remember them and get a chance to practice them. This is especially important for secondary teachers, whose students will likely experience a mind-numbing, forgettable parade of Teacher Rules on Day One.”

It’s often considered good practice to establish rules and procedures at the beginning of a new school year, but I can definitely attest that my daughter came home from each first week during her middle school years feeling bored and defeated.  Not only did the teacher of each subject spend the entire period going over rules, but many of them showed the same not-so-exciting videos, which repetitively appeared in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. (Fortunately, each year improved dramatically after the first weeks, as her fabulous teachers definitely challenged and engaged her.)

As a teacher of 25 years, I’ve gone through many first days, and I can tell you that I am just as enthusiastic as the students when my staff development weeks begin with rules, procedures, and awkward team-building activities.

Nancy Flanagan goes on in her article to suggest doing engaging activities the first day that will also help the students to learn something.  If you are looking for ideas, Breakout Edu offers some Back to School games that might be just the ticket to ramp up excitement so your students go home the first day and tell their parents what they learned and that they had fun doing it!  There is one game each for elementary, upper elementary, and secondary. There is even one for Staff Development! (Note: You will need to register for free with Breakout Edu in order to get the password to access the games.)

Consider embedding rules and procedures into exciting learning activities, rather than making them the starring topic for introducing the year.  Your students – and their parents – will thank you!

from Breakout Edu Back to School Games
from Breakout Edu Back to School Games