Thursday, May 1, 2014

By Request - Tools for Creating Review Games

Earlier today I received a request for recommendations of tools that students can use to create review games for the end of the school year. Here is handful of options for creating review games spanning elementary school through high school grades.

Purpose Games is a free service that allows users to create custom games, share games, and play games. There are two styles of games that you can create and play on Purpose Games. The simpler of the two styles is a fairly basic multiple choice game. The other style uses images and maps on which players have to name the places represented by placemarks on the image or map. For an example, try this game about the skeletal system. Purpose Games gives game creators the option to make their games public or private. If you select the private option, only the people to whom you send invitations will be able to play your game.

Stencyl is a free program for creating flash-based games on your Mac or Windows computer. Using Stencyl you can create a fairly complex game even if you don't have any coding skills at all. That is possible because Stencyl uses a drag and drop interface to enable game creation. Stencyl provides a huge selection of characters, settings, and elements to add to each scene of your games. To create and direct the actions within your games Stencyl gives you a block-snapping interface to construct actions and sequences. The block-snapping interface will look familiar to people who have used Scratch or Android App Inventor.

TinyTap is a free iPad app that allows you to create simple games based on pictures that you take. The purpose of the games you build is to help young students (pre-K through grade 4) practice identifying objects and patterns. To create a game on TinyTap you upload pictures or take new pictures and arrange them into a set. Then select each image to create questions about it. To create your question press the record button and start talking. When you have finished talking select a portion of your picture to serve as the answer. I created a small game about objects in my house. I took four pictures of things in my house. Each question asked players to identify the objects in my house. For example, when a player sees a picture of my kitchen he or she has to identify the tea pot by touching it.

Code Maven and Game Maven are interactive programming tutorials from Crunchzilla. Code Maven and Game Maven use the same style as the popular Code Monster javascript programming tutorial. That style is to present a piece of code with instructions on one side of the screen while providing a visual of the outcome on the other side of the screen. Code Maven offers 59 lessons for students to work through at their own pace to learn programming fundamentals. After completing the Code Maven tutorials students are ready to move on to Game Maven where they can work through 37 lessons in which they will create three simple online games. is a free service teachers can use to create their own educational games. Games made on can be shared via email or embedded into a blog or website. (Yet another reason for having a class website or blog). provides fifteen easy to use templates with which teachers can make educational games for their students. There are also many pre-made games available on

Webinar Recording - Five Fun Uses of Comics In the Classroom

Last night I hosted a webinar, sponsored by StoryboardThat, about using comics in the classroom. The slides from the webinar were posted last and I'm including them below as well. The recording of the webinar is now available to download here (warning: it is a large file).

An Introduction to the New Google Drive iPad Apps That Offer Better Offline Support

This is guest post from Samantha Morra of, an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Google just announced new apps for Google Drive. Earlier this month, I wrote about how Google Drive is one of the Two Free Google Apps that Bring Out the Best in an iPad. As much as I like the Drive app, I have been hoping for some more features when working in Docs and sheets - like the Research tool. When I heard that Google had created some new apps, I just had to check them out. With these new apps, Google split parts of Google Drive into individual apps: Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Docs and Sheets are out now for both iPad and Android. Slides will be coming soon. All of the apps are free and Google Drive is still available. Right now there are really only three ways in which the apps differ from the Drive app.
  1. Each app is now dedicated to just one individual tool in Google Drive.
  2. When you open the app, you see your most recently edited files of that type only, which does mean less time searching and scrolling.
  3. The apps have better built-in offline support, so you can easily view, edit and create files without being online.
When the new Slides app comes out, you will be able to create and edit presentations, so that will be a great new feature. Like I said, I was hoping for more features, but these apps seem like a step in the right direction. The Google Drive app is still an important tool on iPads, Android devices, and computers. It is the bridge that connects all of the work that you create in Docs, Drive, and Slides with other apps. For workflow with other apps on your mobile devices, Google Drive is still a powerful tool to store, transfer and coordinate with other apps. With these new apps, you get the added benefit of easy access to the specific Google tools you need.
You can download the apps here:
New Google Docs Apps - Docs App for iPad, Docs App for Android   New Google Sheets App - Sheets App for iPad, Sheets App for Android Google Slides - Coming soon, though you can still view and present from Google Drive

Google Drive App - Google Drive for iPad, Google Drive for Android If you are new to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, you can find some great information here to get you started:
Samantha will be teaching all of these apps and more in a number of EdTechTeacher Summer Workshops. EdTechTeacher will also have a number of great Google Apps sessions and workshops at their July 28-30 ETT Summit in Chicago.