Category Archives: Games

The Fido Puzzle (And an Explanation)

I was reviewing old blog posts and came across one about the Fido Puzzle.  For their “sharing time” my 5th graders have recently been trying to stump each other with riddles, and I think this might be a good one to add to the mix.  (If you are a parent of one of my 5th graders, don’t show them the answer!)

fidopuzzle

My original post did not include an explanation, but I’m getting kinder in my old age;)

Kahoot.it

Kahoot is a fun student response site that can be used with any device.  I don’t employ it very often because the nature of my gifted classes doesn’t really allow for many multiple choice questions. Yesterday, though, I decided to see how my first graders would respond to a Kahoot geography quiz.  They have been doing research on different countries, and have participated in all kinds of activities to help them learn the locations of their countries and the seven continents.  Sure enough, there were already several public Kahoots made that were perfectly tailored for my group.

Kahoot

It took a lot more guidance to get them started than it takes with my older students, but they were finally all ready to start.  The first question took them by surprise.  They had never used a student response system in their lives, and couldn’t figure out why the screen in front of the room looked different than the one on their iPad – but was still connected.  Once they realized what was happening, though, they got completely fired up.  They were leaping out of their chairs and cheering when they got answers correct.  After we finished the first quiz, they begged for more.

The level of engagement was undoubtedly there.  I was a bit uncomfortable, though, with whether or not the competition was a good thing or not.  Even when the students used “aliases”, it was immediately apparent by their reactions who was doing well and who wasn’t.

Every student, whether they did well or not, wholeheartedly agreed that they love “Kahooting.”  And I realize that competition can be motivating.  However, I have mixed feelings about the students comparing themselves to others. Am I helping them to learn more by offering this exciting and engaging activity?  Or, am I discouraging those who find themselves unable to answer correctly or fast enough?

What do you think?  Comments welcome!

Rush Hour Shift

As regular readers may know, my students and I are big fans of ThinkFun games in our classroom.  The logic and problem-solving skills embedded into each one equal the entertainment value, which makes teachers and learners happy.

ThinkFun recently sent us one of their new games to review – Rush Hour Shift.  This name may sound familiar to you.  Rush Hour has been one of the most popular games in my classroom for years.  It’s meant to be a single-player game, though my students usually work in pairs or small groups to solve the increasingly difficult challenges of sliding a car through lanes of traffic to the exit.  The new version, Rush Hour Shift, is a 2-player game – and I predict it will be the new favorite in my classes.

Rush Hour Shift from ThinkFun
Rush Hour Shift from ThinkFun

In Rush Hour Shift, there are 3 interlocking plates that make up the traffic grid.  Each player is trying to slide their car to the opposite end.  Different challenges direct you on how to set up the “traffic” on the grid before starting.  Each player is dealt a set of cards, and can only make the moves that are on the cards.  These moves include sliding the other cars around or shifting one of the interlocking plates.

My daughter (12) and I tried the game first.  She beat me two out of three times.  (Spatial reasoning has always been one of my weaknesses.)  I was addicted – but I think my daughter was getting frustrated with playing against someone so obviously beneath her level.

Yesterday, three of my 5th grade girls tried the game out.  They had earned the privilege of  “testing” a game and went into the empty classroom next door to play.   The rest of us were trying to solve some wicked sudoku-like math puzzles, and were soon finding ourselves distracted by the uproarious laughter coming from the game-testers.

I peeked in on the girls, and they were having a great time.  They had easily figured out the instructions, and were taking turns playing each other.  When I asked them if they would recommend the game to others, they vigorously agreed.  Jokingly, one of them commented,  “But not if you want to keep your friends!”  Apparently Rush Hour Shift has the ability to spark some friendly competition.

One thing that we all agreed on was the potential for many hours of fun with this game.  For each of the 10 game set-ups given, there are endless ways the game can be played based on the cards that are dealt and the choices each player makes for using them.

We did receive Rush Hour Shift free to review, but I would definitely choose to purchase one for a birthday gift in the future.

If you find this game interesting and would like to see some other products that I have recommended in the past, check out this Pinterest Board.

i’m sorry

So, I saw this tweet the other day:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 6.04.46 PM

And I was like, “No, that’s not possible.  A game that’s better than the Chrome dinosaur?!!!”

So, I clicked on the link, which took me here. There were quite a few links in the story and I, of course, clicked on every single one except the one that actually took me to the “game.”

But then I found it.  And I think Chris Rogers might be right. Watching a shark swim through my address bar is pretty fun.  I enjoyed the plane, too.  But I have to say that my favorite is the “diy” option. 

Developer Glen Chiacchieri prominently displays, “i’m sorry” on the tab for this site.  

i'm sorry

And well he should be.  Because of him, millions of tasks will never be completed as people attempt to play the “pewpew” game in their address bar.

Which means that, once again, I’ve stumbled upon another perfect Phun Phriday time-waster that I can happily pass on to the readers of this blog.

I’m sorry!

Poetweet

Happy Phun Phriday!  It’s time for another completely frivolous blog post that might inadvertently inspire you to waste huge chunks of time on an activity that is not productive in any way.

I actually had Poetweet slated to be a Phun Phriday post a few weeks ago, but the site went down right when I was about to blog about it.  It seems to be working now, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the bazillions of people who read this post won’t break it by trying to access Poetweet at the same time ;)

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.35.54 PM

You don’t have to have a Twitter account to use Poetweet – but you need to know someone’s Twitter handle.  All you do is type in the handle, then choose what type of poem you would like (Sonnet, Rondel, or Indriso), and the magic happens.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.21.44 PM

I don’t really know how it works.  And the poems don’t necessarily make sense – but then again, aren’t the best poems deliberately incomprehensible?  When you are viewing the poem on the Poetweet site, you can actually scroll over the lines to find out what Tweet they were found in.

Here are the three poems I made from my Twitter handle last night. Some lines are weirdly insightful…

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 6.35.55 AM

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.20.11 PM

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.21.24 PM

 

 

Free the Zoombinis!

Games have their place in education, but my students know that I tend to emphasize creation rather than consumption – especially when it comes to technology.  Few “education” apps pass muster for me, but I have a feeling this particular one will be on my “Gifts for the Gifted” apps list this December.

I first discovered the magic of the Zoombinis decades ago in my 5th grade classroom.  My students were enamored with the cute little creatures who needed to be guided to their new home through various levels in the TERC/Broderbund game, “The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis.”  Not only was the game fun, but the logic and problem-solving that it demanded were scaffolded extremely well, allowing students of different levels to feel successful when they played.

To be completely honest, I bought a personal copy of the game, and spent many nights with my young daughter (and without her) trying to advance through the different challenges.

Unfortunately, as technology advanced, the Zoombinis disappeared from my classroom.  We can no longer install our own software in our district, and I’m not sure the few games still available through online retailers would work on our newer operating systems.

I was thrilled, therefore, to see a Tweet yesterday that the Zoombinis have launched a Kickstarter!  TERC is teaming up with Fablevision and Learning Games Network to release an app for tablets as well as newly designed desktop software later this year. The Pizza Trolls, the Allergic Cliffs, the Fleens, the Lion’s Lair – they are all coming back with graphics optimized for today’s devices.

To learn more about the Zoombinis Kickstarter project, click on the image below.

zoombini

The Dinosaur that Hatched an Easter Egg

During my perpetual quest for the perfect Phun Phriday post (something that is fun and has zero educational value – but is appropriate for most audiences), I happened to read a tweet from Joe Hanson (@jtotheizzoe) about his new addiction to playing a game with the Google Chrome Dinosaur that appears whenever you try to access a site and your internet connection isn’t working.

Strangely, I have seen a lot of that dinosaur this week.  Apparently my router decided to implode.

I probably would have diagnosed the issue faster if I wasn’t ridiculously entertained by trying to get T-Rex to jump over cacti.

Don't pay attention to the score.  I just wanted to get a screen shot to show you.
Don’t pay attention to the score. I just wanted to get a screen shot to show you;)

If you hit the space bar when the dinosaur appears, you will find yourself less concerned about what happened to your wi-fi and more interested in getting your prehistoric, flapless bird past the swiftly approaching obstacles.  It’s kind of like Google’s way of saying, “Hey, don’t be mad at us because a website isn’t working; be mad at yourself because you have zero thumb-eye coordination. ”

What’s really bad is when your internet connection is actually working and you deliberately disable it to try to beat your embarrassingly low score that was topped by your 12-year-old daughter the first time she played the game.

Not that I’m judging anyone…

Here are some other Google Easter Eggs if you are interested!