Worth Mentioning: Learning Resources

Last week, I blogged about some of the games Heather at Oh My Stinkin’ Heck uses to homeschool her children. She has some great posts with pictures showing her children playing the games. I like her posts because they give you a good feel for not only how to play the game but also whether or not it would be appropriate for your own child.

One of the games she featured was Cooking Up Sentences! from Learning Resources:

I linked to the game on Amazon in my post, and this week, I received an email from Amazon with links to games from – you guessed it – Learning Resources! Since most of these games are new to me, I started thinking about what would make me want to purchase one of them for my classroom. What makes an educational game good for kids? Why do my students like the same games year after year?

I use several criteria when deciding whether or not to purchase a game for my classroom. My top criterion is simple: the game must be of high quality because many grubby little hands will touch it over the years! What else do I think about when purchasing a game? Read on!

 Head Full of Numbers

I bought this game from Learning Resources a couple of years ago. To play, place the three standard dice and three custom dice (with numbers 0, 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9) into the fun dice shaker (it’s a guy’s head!) then roll them out and place them into the dice tray. Set the sand timer and use the score pad to record the number of unique, correct equations each player makes using the numbers rolled. (The children can record their equations on separate pieces of paper. I like to use scratch paper for games like this, usually copies of worksheets I never used that would normally end up in the recycling bin. That way, we don’t waste the “good” paper.)

Equations can use simple addition or subtraction or can use multiplication and division for greater challenge – game variations allow you to make the game more challenging according to each child’s skill level. I really like games that can be played at multiple levels, especially in a classroom of 21 children. Kids who are working on basic addition and subtraction facts will enjoy this game as much as a child practicing multiplication and division.

Check out the similar Words on My Mind Game:

 Another game that caught my eye is this one:

Reading Roadway Game

In this game, players take turns spinning and moving their cars across the country while reading fun-filled facts based on the state they’ve landed on. The first person to answer the trivia question correctly collects a souvenir. This game combines reading comprehension, listening skills, and geography, which makes it cross-curricular, another thing I take into consideration when buying a game.

Continuing through the list of links, I spotted this:

ScienceDiction – Science Vocabulary Game

From the manufacturer: Guess science words with only a minute to spare. Game brings together creativity and curiosity. Features 3 levels of challenge with 120 question cards. Explores animals, planets—even lab lingo. Includes sketch boards, markers, sand timer, score pad, Activity Guide and more. For 2+ players or teams.

This game is multi-sensory, and I love that it combines science and art. I also like that kids can play individually or in teams, allowing for a variety of levels in the classroom (or ages within a family).

Lest you think all Learning Resources games are board games (head games???), here is an electronic math facts game:

Minute Math Electronic Flash Card

When I teach my students how to solve basic addition and subtraction facts, I help them discover strategies such as Doubles (6 + 6 = 12) , Doubles + 1 (to solve 7 + 6, do 6 + 6 = 12 and then add 1 because 7 is 1 more than 6), and Fast Tens (to solve 7 + 9, take 1 from the 9 to make 10, then add the 6 left to get 16).

When my students know the strategies for figuring out the answers and don’t rely on counting up or back with their fingers, they are ready to memorize the facts. I send home flash cards for rote memorization, but in my classroom, I prefer to tantalize, making fact practice fun and exciting so the kids don’t realize they are learning!

The Minute Math Electronic Flash Card game sure sounds tantalizing! Children build number fact fluency in just a minute. They can practice (individually or taking turns with another student) addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as early algebraic skills. The game offers a 60-second timed mode, a low-pressure mode, and 3 levels of difficulty. The color-coded screen reinforces parts of the equation, and the children receive positive, corrective feedback (visual and auditory) which is important for autonomous mastery of the facts.

So, my criteria for a game worthy of my hard-earned money?

  1. high quality
  2. cross-curricular
  3. multi-level
  4. multi-sensory
  5. fun!

Of course, not all games meet all of the criteria, but they must be durable, and they must be fun, otherwise they will not take up valuable shelf space in my classroom!

{Note: I do not receive compensation for mentioning any of these games – or Learning Resources or Amazon – on my blog. The only game I have used with students is Head Full of Numbers.}

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