Welcome to another informative post dedicated to learning in the 21st century. I dedicate this post to a wonderful group of teachers I have in an on-line graduate level class in the state of Indiana. I have been learning so much from them as together we have studied technology integration in the elementary school. I decided to search cyberspace for some free games created to promote the core curricula in the elementary grades. Since I created this list of sites that I believe allows students to progress through formative learning for that awesome group of teachers… I thought I would also share with another great group of educators… the readers of this blog. In fact, thanks for continuing to return and please also share this blog with others. If you haven’t subscribed please take a moment to do so. You can be guaranteed future posts by subscribing by either RSS or email. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. I really do enjoy the networking with all of you! Now… about those games. Have a great week! – Mike
What could be better than free computer games for elementary students? Understanding that games allow kids to experience powerful formative assessment through interactive experiences is a great start. Teachers and researchers are just beginning to uncover the value that computer games and simulations can provide in the classroom. Computer games allow students to experience new challenges, learn from and understand failure and setbacks, analyze content and set goals, drive toward success, and invite new and rigorous learning experiences. It is for these very reasons that children spend hours with video games at home and it is also the reason that educators need to learn how to leverage games for optimal learning in the classroom. I hope you are ready to take a journey with me and examine ten sites I found that could just change your game plan in the classroom. Take a look!
1. ABCYa – How about learning by taking a trip, making some Tangrams, building a house, or trying a little vocabulary with the Slider Game? All educational computer activities on this site were created or approved by certified school teachers. They are free and are modeled from primary grade lessons and enhanced to provide an interactive way for children to learn. Grade level ( K-5) lessons incorporate areas such as math and language arts while introducing basic computer skills. Many of the kindergarten and early grade activities are equipped with sound to enhance understanding. There is even an app for the iPad!
2. PBS Lions– Just entering the site is fun as you hear about games, stories, video clips, and Lions To Go! It is designed to be navigated and enjoyed by young kids on their own. Have fun entering the Quiet Machine! First, the games focus on a variety of educational areas, as do the video clips, which are taken from the popular show Between The Lions. Next, the stories—featuring everything from new books to old folk tales to original and classic yarns. They do a wonderful job of introducing kids to a wide variety of storytelling methods and subject matter. Accompanying each story is a story-specific game to extend either the vocabulary or phonics found in the story itself.
3. Learning Planet – Another free site with a multitude of resources. If you wish to pay a little you will discover even more resources, and without the banner ads. The site is set up for students to play and learn, and for teachers to discover resources to use in their lessons. There are four categories for students including pre-school through kindergarten, first through third, fourth through fifth, and seventh and up. Want more details between free and pay? Be sure to check out the help page. There are also apps for the iPhone.
4. Cool math 4 kids – Wow, when entering this site you will soon understand that it may take a “moment” to explore. The site describes itself as an amusement park for math, especially designed for fun, fun, fun! There is even another site for pre-algebra and up… but I will keep it elementary for now! All of those imporatnt math standards are presented in an engaging manner. Best of all, it is all free as support comes from advertisers. Take a moment and click on over. I hope you have some time because before you know it… you will be engaged in a game!
5. Starfall – The people at Starfall state that their method of instruction motivates children in an atmosphere of imagination and enthusiasm, provides opportunities for child-directed instruction, and supports English language learners and struggling readers learning alongside their peers. The website and companion printed materials are clear and effective tools to help the teacher implement proven methods. The authors claim that the site contains scientific, research-based reading materials and the activities are modeled on the “Big Five” focus areas recommended by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Starfall.com injects their sixth… motivation! Spend some time and be sure to check out all of the areas!
6. Game Goo – You will soon find out that this game based site truly involves “Learning That Sticks”. Once you get away from the urge of moving the mouse around the screen to see all the animations and hear all the sounds, you will begin to note the organization. The easy to use interface lets you know what is for beginners, intermediates, and advanced! I am sure you will find some fun at this site from the people at Houghton Mifflin Company!
7. Fun School Caboose – This site includes all the core subjects, plus it also includes sports and the fine arts! It provides games and activities for students in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Make sure you visit the teacher page for a complete listing of all this site has to offer. I promise that you will not walk away empty handed.
8. Pbskids – Another great site providing some awesome activities and games for those elementary kids. What young child doesn’t like puzzles, animals, and dinosaurs! Check out some of the super hero games featuring some of those amazing PBS characters. As I tried a few of the games I found them to include a impressive visual and audio reinforcement that young children will enjoy. Best of all kids will be rewarded with prizes and rewards. While visiting, take a look at some very engaging video on your journey!
9. Funbrain – Who says that these games have to be just for the little kids? This site includes fun engaging activities all the way up to, and including, eighth grade. I even had some fun… and I am a few years beyond that! Funbrain offers more than 100 fun, interactive games that develop skills in math, reading, and literacy. As an added attraction, kids can read a variety of popular books and comics on the site, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amelia Writes Again, and Brewster Rocket. Not always connected to the internet? This website even offers Funbrain To Go, where you can download these games and activities and learn from them where the internet sometimes is not!
Primary Games – As the site proclaims… “A fun place to learn”. Where do I begin? I could start with describing 15 different categories including subject areas, puzzles, downloads, virtual worlds, postcards, and even arcades. Perhaps that will get you to click the link and discover hundreds and hundreds of possibilities! Do you work with mobile devices? Then check out the mobile site for primary games! I know you will find an activity that will take your students beyond primary and into the 21st century of learning!
Well, there you have it… ten educational gaming sites that promote formative learning experiences in the elementary years. Now is the time to engage in some networking! If you know of a great gaming site that promotes learning, please share it either by comment or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would love to promote your ideas in a future blog. In fact, I am already working on a future post for older kids! Please continue to join me as I expound on other ways you can promote formative learning experiences and 21st century skills. But that’s not all… future posts will also contain resources on Digital Curriculum, evaluating web resources, Project Based Learning, STEM, Web 2.0, and so much more on 21st Century Learning. Please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email! Your subscription means a lot to me and I thank you in advance. You can also give this article a retweet if you scroll to the bottom! It’s a great way to spread the word and I appreciate your support. Remember to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. Thanks, and until next time… find a way to get your classroom to join the game of learning in the 21st century. Have a great week! – Mike