Game On for Summer Learning
Game On for Summer Learning
Guest post from Justina Nixon-Saintil, Verizon Foundation’s director of education. Justina is responsible for the foundation’s Education and Technology initiatives which include a focus on leveraging mobile technologies to increase student engagement and achievement, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas.
Summer is in full swing. If you’re like me, you may wonder: “How much of my kids’ educational experience also is taking a vacation?” All young people experience learning loss when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association.
So how do you keep the kids active and learning while making it fun for them? I recommend checking out Verizon Thinkfinity’s collections of educational online games. Verizon Thinkfinity (http://www.thinkfinity.org/) is an interactive educational platform that provides tens of thousands of free resources for use in and out of the classroom. Among those free resources are educational games available from Verizon’s educational partners. And from your preschooler to high schooler, there’s something for everyone.
Concentration is a favorite game for grades k-5. This version from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is available both online and as an app for Android and iOS devices, including the iPad. The game allows kids to play by themselves, or to challenge a sibling or parent to a friendly match on addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions or percentages.
Another favorite game from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is Slam Ball. Hit tokens, collect points! Slam the ball into the sides of the game board, and use your knowledge of angles, symmetry, and reflections to choose the best path.
Educational online games have many benefits and, when done well, they engage today’s kids in thoughtful decision-making. Take for example Gravity Launch from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In this game your middle school student launches rockets into space to see how the force of gravity can pull an object toward the earth and moon. If he doesn’t have the thrust and angle just right, the rocket won’t reach the stations in orbit.
Perhaps you have a future inventor in your home? Someone who constantly asks, “What happens if I do this?” Online games often provide a great setting for exploratory play, where kids can test out many possible solutions to a problem…without melting your microwave. Take Tinker Ball from the Smithsonian Institute, for example. Using gears, pipes and springs, your challenge is to design a sequence that will get your ball into the hole.
Below are some of my other favorite games from Verizon’s Thinkfinity.
Power Up challenges you to think about the positive and negative consequences of various types of power. With a set budget, you decide which power plants to purchase for your city. As you choose your types of power, you will learn how much power the plant provides, how much it costs, and the effect it could have on the environment.
Invention Playhouse from the Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History features four interactive games with which kids learn how play connects to the creative impulse of both historic and contemporary inventors.
Forces of Nature from National Geographic Education allows you to experiment with different conditions to create hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and volcanoes.
Adventure Island, also from National Geographic Education, helps young children understand the symbols often found on maps.
Slush Rush, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Stimulate your young entrepreneur with the calculated decision-making in Slush Rush: create a slush formula that appeals to the most aliens, and you'll make the most money.
Wonderopolis, from the National Center for Family Literacy, encourages a sense of wonder in children and family-focused learning through daily “Wonders.” Commemorate the 4th of July or the Summer Olympics with How Are Fireworks Made? or Can A Human Outrun a Cheetah? Visit Wonderopolis to enjoy a new wonder every day, from your computer, smartphone or tablet.
To find more games go to http://www.thinkfinity.org/ and do a search for “games.”
Even when summer ends, educational games like these keep kids learning throughout the year.
For additional educational online games check out Verizon Games (or go to http://tinyurl.com/3awtp4e) which offers the popular JumpStart series, Bob the Builder and SpongeBob SquarePants to name a few. The Verizon Games online gaming site also offers some of the most popular titles in casual gaming.
Which games do you play most as a family?