Category Archives: Games

Oh hi

Most of the trouble I get into is when my daughter is late getting done with swim practice.  I get bored and start clicking on Twitter links.  Before I know it, I’m addicted to a new game.

Ian Byrd from @byrdseedgifted tweeted the link for “Oh hi” out a couple of days ago.  For those of you who enjoy Sudoku, this logic puzzle should be right up your alley.  For those of you who think Sudoku is evil – you’re welcome.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 9.22.47 PM

Oh hi” is browser based, and the game appears to work on any device, which makes it even more wicked.

I have lots of devices.

I’m not going to try to explain the game because the site does a good job with a simple tutorial.  Basically, you need to get the same amount of blue squares and red squares in every row and column without repeating the pattern.  However, you can never have more than 2 of the same color adjacent to each other. There are 4 levels: 4×4, 6×6, 8×8, and 10×10. I’m still on the 8×8 – mostly because I like the feeling of being somewhat challenged and majorly successful at the same time.  Frankly, I only got that far because of my daughter’s encouragement ;)

If you’re struggling to find an activity to fill in small time gaps during the last couple of days before Thanksgiving break, this might be a good option!

8x8 Oh hi

 

Shell Game

For this week’s “Gifts for the Gifted” post, I have another great product from ThinkFun. It’s called, “Shell Game.

gifts

The concept of the game is to place the colored hermit crabs under the shells as directed at the top of each challenge page.  You are then supposed to slide the shells around (without peeking underneath) until you think you have moved the colored crabs to the new spots shown on the bottom of the page.

Shell Game from ThinkFun
Shell Game from ThinkFun

If you think Shell Game is easy, you’re probably not playing it correctly! I learned this from my 4th graders who seemed to be going through the challenges kind of rapidly.  I sat down with them, and realized they were just moving the shells around.  To truly meet the challenge, the player must slide the shells only along the lines provided.  This makes it much harder.

ThinkFun games are always a fan favorite in my classroom, and this one is no exception.  Although it’s designed for one player, I can usually allow up to 3 students at a center with the game, and they take turns on the challenges.

This game is recommended for children 8 and up.  I would definitely agree with that recommendation.  I think younger children would get frustrated or play the game incorrectly.

One of my students came up with an interesting solution to the problem of remembering which crab was under each shell.  He turned the shells different ways for each color so he always knew the crab hidden underneath.  According to him, this “isn’t cheating, just a good strategy.” I have to admit that is a clever way to keep track of the colors as you whisk them around the page!

Some other recent reviews I’ve done of ThinkFun games are Gravity Maze and Robot Turtles (a nice center to have during Hour of Code). Also, if you are looking for more educational toys and games, I have a Pinterest Board here.

My Gifts for the Gifted series will continue each Friday through the end of December. Here is a link to last week’s post, the first in this year’s batch.

(Full Disclosure: I did receive Shell Game for free to review from ThinkFun.)

Opt for Osmo for Optimum Fun

Woohoo!  Here we go!  This is the beginning of this year’s “Gifts for the Gifted” posts – a series of articles I do each Friday in November and December to give teachers and parents ideas for great toys and games for your children.  To see what gifts I’ve recommended in the past, take a look at my Pinterest Board.  (I also have one for Books for Gifted Children.)

gifts

 

I reviewed today’s product, Osmo, in May, but some of you may not have been readers way back then.  You should definitely check out that first post as it gives some details that I will probably leave out in the interest of brevity in this article.

Put quite simply, Osmo is a set of accessories for your iPad that allows players to interact with real physical objects that are recognized by your iPad within Osmos’ free apps.  My classes (K-5 gifted students) tested the product out last year before it hit the market, and absolutely loved it.

image from Venturebeat.com
image from Venturebeat.com

There are currently 3 free apps: Words, Tangrams, and Newton.  The apps will not work without the set that you can currently purchase for $79.99 (free shipping). The set includes a base for the iPad, a mirror to place over the iPad camera, letter tiles, and tangram pieces.

In case you are concerned that your child or students will get bored with the 3 apps, I can assure you this hasn’t happened in my classroom yet.  The company does hope to add additional apps in the future, and they have made significant updates to the current ones over the last year.  In addition, the Words app allows for customization so that you can basically create your own games using photos and words that you load yourself. (See instructions here.) This feature is tremendously powerful in a classroom setting.  You can make Osmo a center to practice certain words, differentiate with several albums, and do class play to review vocabulary by mirroring your iPad on your screen.

There are two reasons that I recommend Osmo: it’s good for kids and the company is extremely supportive of its customers – particularly educators.  If you are looking for a great gift to give a teacher (perhaps pooling money with several parents) or a unique gift to give to a younger family member, then Osmo is definitely a great choice.  You can purchase Osmo directly from their website, or at an Apple store near you.

Inspirograph

Technically this should be a Phun Phriday post.  Because it’s seriously, addictively P.H.U.N.  However, my Friday posts in November and December are devoted to my “Gifts for the Gifted” series.  So, we’re going to break the mold and make it a Phun Thursday.  And even though that’s not quite as alliterative, it’s still fun.

I saw this tweet from @shannonmiller this week.

Spirograph TweetOf course, I immediately investigated the link.  I actually have an old Spirograph kit that I bought from E-bay a few years ago and I’ve been debating whether or not it would make a nice center in my classroom. The reason for the debate is the pins involved.  I think I can overcome the pin issue, but for those of you who don’t have a kit or prefer not to deal with pins Inspirograph is a perfect solution.  You can even download the image when you have finished your masterpiece!  Can you imagine trying this out on an interactive whiteboard?!!!

Some people, of course, prefer a more tangible experience.  But what about an edible one? If you head on over to The Kid Should See This, you can see how you can have your Spirograph Pancake and eat it, too

For those of you who might be appalled that I switched Phun Phriday to Phun Thursday, I have a couple of Spirograph math links for you from Dr. Mike’s Math Games and Mathematics Teaching Community.  Ann Pool has a GCF lesson that goes with Spirograph, too. I don’t really understand them, but don’t tell my students.

Here are a couple of masterpieces from the Inspirograph gallery.  Can you tell which one is mine?  (Hint: the less good one!)

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Cuddly Blue Monsters

Happy Phun Phriday!  In this neck of the woods, today is the Phantastic Phright Phest otherwise known as Halloween.  To honor the day, I’m sharing two resources that have monsters who are anything but scary!

First up is Kid President’s recent Pep Talk co-hosted by everyone’s favorite Muppet, Grover.  My favorite line from this video? “Be like cheese and bacon, and make everything that you touch better!” Oddly inspiring, right?

from A Pep Talk with Puppets
from  A Pep Talk with Puppets

My second resource is a new offering on Made with Code.  Using Blockly programming, you can make the adorable Yeti dance.  It’s incredibly easy, and very cute!

Make this Yeti dance on MadeWithCode.com!
Make this Yeti dance on MadeWithCode.com!

Who says monsters are scary?  These two can jump out of my closet any time!

Life After the Cardboard Arcade

This is the 2nd year that I’ve participated in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by Caine’s Arcade.  After last year, I had three goals in mind for this year’s event:

  • increase the number of students making games
  • increase the number of students who play the games
  • find a way to integrate the project with raising money for a charity

Last year, my GT students at the school were the only ones who participated.  This year, we started a school Maker Club.  With the help of two other amazing sponsors, we were able to add 24 more students to the roster of game designers.

To increase the number of players, we changed venues.  We moved the arcade from our school to the party rooms at a place called Main Event.  Main Event is an entertainment complex near us that offers bowling, laser tag, a ropes course, and video arcade as well as food and drink.  So, families could enjoy our games and make a night of it.

There were some amazing games included in our arcade.  Two of the more notable ones were a huge Sphero obstacle course created by a group of 6 students and a human fortune-telling machine! (Check these projects out in the slide show and videos below.)

For our charity, the students selected Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, a local organization that helps wildlife that have been injured to recover and return to their habitats as well as offering “forever” homes to wild animals that will never be able to survive on their own.

Our event went really well.  We raised over $700 for our charity and everyone seemed to have a fabulous time.  As an added bonus, sponsors from WRR came to our arcade and selected some of the games to be donated to the organization.  They will be sending us pictures and videos of the games being used for primate enrichment!

And that leads me to wonder how many other ways our games could have a second life next year.  Many of the students dedicated hours to creating their masterpieces.  It would be nice to give those games more than one day in the spotlight.  Monkeys aren’t the only ones that might appreciate them once the Big Event ends.  How about donating them to a Children’s Shelter, a hospital, or possibly a local library?  Admittedly, none of those is quite as exciting as watching a monkey play your game, but there are definitely many ways these creative projects can keep on giving…

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Ping Pong Trick Shots That Will Blow Your Mind

We just had our Cardboard Arcade two nights ago, and a few of the games involved getting ping pong balls to fall into holes or hit targets, all of which I failed at miserably. That’s why this post on Neatorama caught my eye, and seemed to be the perfect Phun Phriday link to share this week.  Check out this insanely talented 12-year-old, Mikey, who does increasingly complex trick shots in this video. (Here is the direct link to the video in case the Neatorama page is blocked on your end.)

from Ping Pong Cup Shots 2
from Ping Pong Cup Shots 2