The Friday Five: Fun & Games!

Maybe it will be a five minute video, five resources, or something else that fits with five, but this week, the Friday Five is back. With the shift for so many to distance learning or physically distancing (hopefully sill finding ways to be social from 6+ feet away), it is important to find ways to still have fun! With that in mind here are five resources focusing on gamification, gaming, and some fun with learning. Cheers to Friday and having some fun!

Jeopardy Labs has been a favorite of mine for a long time. Great for teams as it can keep score, Jeopardy Labs supports synchronous group or solo play and could be fun in a virtual meeting or class.

Wisc-Online’s Game Builder offers 20 different game templates for creators to start from, and their “Arcade” has many games created by the community, organized by subject.

PurposeGames has pre-made games but also has seven different types of games/quizzes users can create (including a favorite of mine, the image quiz!)

If you have a little more time, creating a Digital Breakout can be fun and a good challenge for students, even to solve virtually! The grad students I taught last fall had a blast the night we featured a Digital Breakout during our small group time! BreakoutEDU has a game template to get started, but Tom Mullaney created a great template and a Google Search for “Breakout with Google Sites and Forms” will result in more examples, print instructions, and video tutorials.

Finally, it seems to be remiss to not remind, we can always see if we can travel back in time and survive the (virtual) Oregon Trail! Even the high school students I know have lost themselves in this one for a while.

Remember stay safe, and caulk the wagon!

Gaming through the Revolutionary War

After a quick registration, I was ready to play! And I was impressed. Mission 1 of Mission US, “For Crown or Colony,” is a 5-part multimedia game with a solid flash introduction to the setting of the Revolution.  The “game” “puts the player in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a 14-year-old printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As Nat navigates the city and completes tasks, he encounters a spectrum of people living and working there when tensions mount before the Boston Massacre.  Ultimately, the player determines Nat’s fate by deciding where his loyalties lie.” I really wish I taught US History again.

Including historical background on the time period as well as game characters for teachers, a primary source collection focusing on pertinent documents from the Revolutionary period and more, this is a great activity for learners, especially grades 7-10. There is also a version of the game available for download which would help with bandwidth issues.  Impressive financial backing from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I look forward to the near future as it looks like any day now there should be a rollout of a second mission, focusing on resistance to slavery.

Digging in to the Constitution

Who better than the Bill of Rights Institute to design an interactive activity focusing on the creation of the Constitution and the Constitutional Convention?! “Madison’s Notes are Missing” is a great interactive activity where you “interview” the Founders and hear their contributions and ideas from the Constitutional Convention. There is also an online crossword puzzle , a quotations activity connecting Founders to their statements, biographies and primary source documents on many Founders, and a 7 minute video on the Founders and the Constitution.

SimCity Meets Disasters

Thinking about city planning in the older versions of SimCity was fun (I admit, I haven’t played the newer more complex SimCity games) but the “Stop Disasterssimulation from the UN’s ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Relief) has the “player” select one of five scenarios: earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, flood or wild fire (each also has 3 levels of difficulty) and then plan and construct a safer environment for the area’s population. Throughout the simulation, tasks are given like build a hospital or a school while making the environment as safe as possible in the face of impending disaster. Throughout the task, advice (both good and bad) is given and decisions (which are scored) are made.

Great for geography, in conjunction with current events, possibly world cultures, or international affairs, this simulation is educational, fun, and raises awareness of the effects of natural disasters on a population.