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Friday, June 15, 2018

Educational Games for Elementary School Science Lessons

Educational games can be useful in helping to reinforce concepts and content. A good game can keep students engaged while also helping them develop some thinking skills at the same time. You could create your own games on platforms like Kahoot or Metaverse, but those might not provide the depth of context that professionally developed games provide. If you're an elementary school teacher looking for some games to use in science lessons, take a look at the following five games that I frequently share with other teachers. 

Peep and the Big Wide World, produced by WGBH, offers a great collection of online games, videos, and offline activities designed to help students learn and practice skills in math and science. One emphasis of the games that I tried is recognizing patterns. In all there are twenty-one online games available through Peep and the Big Wide World.

Shutterbugs Wiggle and Stomp is an educational game produced by the Smithsonian. The purpose of the game is to help children recognize the movements of animals. In the game children move through a virtual zoo with a zoo keeper. As they go through the virtual zoo the zoo keeper will ask students to take pictures of animals who are demonstrating running, jumping, stomping, and other movements. Shutterbugs Wiggle and Stomp can be played online. The game is also available as a free iPad app and as an Android app.

Habitats is a fun little game from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The online game challenges elementary school to match animals to their habitats. The game shows students images representative of four habitats; desert, coral reef, jungle, and marsh. Students drag pictures of animals from a list to their corresponding habitats. Students receive instant feedback on each move they make in the game. Once an animal has been placed in the correct habitat students can click on it to learn more about it in the Encyclopedia of Life.

Aquation is a free game offered by the the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The game, designed for students in upper elementary school or middle school, teaches students about the distribution of clean water and what can be done to balance global water resources. In the game students select a region to explore its current water supplies. Based on the information provided students take action in the form of building desalination plants, conducting further research, reacting to natural events, and attempting to move water between regions. Aquation can be played in a web browser. It is also available as a free iPad app and as a free Android app.

Feed the Dingo is a fun game that teaches students about the importance of maintaining balanced ecosystems. In the game students have to build and maintain a desert ecosystem. The game begins with a blank slate to which students have to add plants and animals. The game plays out over twelve virtual days. Each day students have to add more elements in order to maintain balance in the ecosystem. At the end of each day students are given feedback as to which plants and animals are healthy, which are in danger, and which have died.

Camp GoNoodle - Four Weeks of Fun and Educational Summer Activities

Camp GoNoodle is a summer program offered by the folks at GoNoodle. The program is designed for elementary school age students to complete over the course of four weeks. It can be used in a summer camp setting, summer school setting, or at home setting. There is a different theme for each week. Within each week there are five thematically connected activities. The themes of Camp GoNoodle are friendship, superheroes, world, and space.

The activities in Camp GoNoodle include learning camp songs, learning about and trying healthy foods, a fun exercise activity, and some art or craft activities. Students can receive a printable, digital badge for successfully completing all of the activities in a week's program.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for activities to suggest to parents to keep their kids active and learning throughout the summer, take a look at what Camp GoNoodle offers each week. I don't love all of the activities, but I do like the spirit of Camp GoNoodle.

The Most Important Search Skills and Attitudes According to SearchReSearch Readers

Dan Russell's Search ReSearch blog is my go-to resource for learning new strategies and for ideas on teaching search. His search challenge blog posts always provide a new way to think about search. At the end of May he conducted a survey of his readers. The survey was to determine what readers of Search ReSearch think are the most important search skills and attitudes toward search. The results of the survey were posted last week.

The survey results are noteworthy to me because the readers of Search ReSearch tend to be people who are skilled researchers and are often people who spend time teaching search skills to others. The survey results are divided into four sections. Those sections are most important skills, most important attitudes, how to ask good questions, and other advice. I encourage you to read the full survey results right here. The top tips from the first three categories are copied below.

Most Important Skill
Query formulation (and reformulation)

Most Important Attitude
Persistence

How to Ask Good Questions
Be specific / be clear about what you’re asking