Posts Tagged ‘educational games’
Often during the school year we are so busy with school and homework and sports that we don’t either have the time to play educational games or take the time to play educational games. In fact, game playing often doesn’t enter your mind because life is just too busy. But, now it’s summer. It’s breathing time. It’s time to take a break from the routine. It’s the perfect time to play educational games.
Benefits of Educational GamesWhen you play games with others you learn how to get along with others. When you play games with others you learn from watching others take their turns and they learn from you taking your turn. That is what is called reciprocal teaching and reciprocal learning. Now, what if you were to play that were educational games that taught specific skills? You would get even more benefit from educational games. You would have the opportunity to have fun and improve your skills at the same time. Your reading comprehension would improve, your writing skills and English grammar skills would improve. Even your math skills would improve. And, you would have fun with others at the same time. When you play educational games you also build learning skills.
All Educational Games Are Not Created EqualThere are many choices you have when choosing educational games. There are several very important things to consider when purchasing an educational game: 1. Is the game fun 2. Does it have real learning involved? 3. What do families that have played it say about it? “I like that The Sentence Zone can be used with any English program and does not require special equipment or supplies. The Sentence Zone is a good one and could benefit many students.” Tina R “Our family loves The Sentence Zone. As we were putting the game away, my children began brainstorming ideas for fun variations of it. They want to play it again with the silliest sentence receiving bonus points. They'd like to do a round where you must only use the cards on top of the deck. Another idea was to try and create the saddest sentence. There are so many ways you be creative with this game and learn while having fun. It's a simple game but I'm impressed with how well it worked with my family.” Lori S “The Sentence Zone game is a relaxed, fun loving game that the family can and will enjoy. It is slow paced, so everyone can truly think their way through each level and have the enjoyment of success! After all, that is what the game is all about!” Mary P See The Sentence Zone in action: Children 1st through 4th grades and then 9th grade playing Poetry Through the Colors SAT Prep
Add The Sentence Zone game to your set of educational games today!
4 Activities to Improve Reading Skills
(Part 3 - Reading Comprehension)As a parent you do have the power and ability to help your kids improve their reading skills. Now what I mean here is that you as a parent can help your child whether they have an identified learning disability, dyslexia, ADHD, or are gifted. There are 4 easy to implement activities that each take just a few minutes a day to improve reading.
- Improve reading fluency in 5 minutes a day
- Improve spelling and learn the 8 ways we put letters together to make words
- Improve reading comprehension by playing a reading comprehension game
- Improve writing skills using specially designed graphic organizers
Improve Reading Skills ActivitiesThe first activity you can do to help your child improve reading skills just takes 5 minutes a day - reading fluency. The second activity which is helping your children improve reading skills is by helping your children improve their spelling skills (about 12 minutes). The third activity is to play games with your children. The key here is to play games that are specifically designed to improve reading comprehension. So, the third activity is playing a reading comprehension game. That’s right, game playing! Playing The Comprehension Zone, a reading comprehension game, teaches your kids how to read for the main idea and details or sequence what they read does the trick. So many children struggle with reading comprehension, specifically finding the main idea of what they are reading or finding details that support the main idea or for sequential order. This can be daunting for some students, and not just those students with LD, dyslexia, or ADHD. You don't have to have a learning disability to have difficulty with reading comprehension! Even gifted children sometimes struggle with reading comprehension. Think about how difficult note-taking is when you don’t have a clue about the main idea of what you read. Typically you either stare at blank sheets of paper or you copy everything down, not knowing how to pick out the important information.
Play Reading Game to Improve Reading SkillsTo be able to play a game and learn, practice, and reinforce the skill of pulling out the main idea and the details or putting information into sequential order at the same time is quite something. Additionally, this reading game can be played for both reading comprehension or listening comprehension. One of the beauties of playing games that improve reading skills, teach, and reinforce skills is that you are in a relaxed state when you are playing. Leaning is retained more efficiently when your body is not in a tense fight or flight state. Using games to learn skills is a way to learn in a non-threatening way. Games even help and encourage learners to stay interested and they often work happier and longer without even realizing it. Lee Su Kim states: 'There is a common perception that all learning should be serious and solemn in nature, and that if one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning. This is a misconception. It is possible to learn a language as well as enjoy oneself at the same time. One of the best ways of doing this is through games.' 'There are many advantages of using games to improve reading skills in the classroom: 1. Games are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class. 2. They are motivating and challenging. 3. Learning a language requires a great deal of effort. Games help students to make and sustain the effort of learning. 4. Games provide language practice in the various skills- speaking, writing, listening and reading. 5. They encourage students to interact and communicate. 6. They create a meaningful context for language use.' Creative Games for the Language Class 'Forum' Vol. 33 No 1, January - March 1995, Page 35 So, be sure to include games like The Comprehension Zone in your family’s activities. Your children will benefit from them. And, you will be spending quality time with your children and be helping them improve their reading comprehension skills at the same time.
Can you do your own summer learning program? Should you do your own summer learning program? Fact: More than half of the achievement gap present in 9th grade between lower- and higher-income children can be explained by summer learning loss. Make Learning Stick with learning games and reading fluency training over the summer. There are many things you can do at home to bridge that summer learning gap.
- Reading Fluency using Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills…and Yes…it only takes 5 minutes to do. Sally Shawitz, author of Overcoming Dyslexia states, "I urge parents to make fluency training their number one priority."
- Take a weekly trip …to the zoo, a local park, the pool, the river, a local factory…and afterwards as a family write down what you did and what your favorite part was…using the fill-in-the-blank forms from Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills and create a booklet to keep for all of your weekly trips.
- Do some nature activities such as listening to outdoor sounds, nature rubbings, shape hike, incher hikes … again use the fill-in-the-blank forms from Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills to describe what you found or did.
- Activities to do at home like making puppets and putting on a puppet show. Bake cookies together, have a backwards day where you eat dinner in the morning and breakfast in the evening, do add-on-stories. Again write down your favorite things or worse things about the activity.
- Have a Game Night or a Game Day…choose learning games…they are fun as well as work on skills. Some great ones are The Sentence Zone (play & learn sentence building and grammar while having fun) , The Comprehension Zone (play & learn reading comprehension and listening comprehension), or the Math Zone (play & math calculation practice).
- Read books together…and write a review or report on it, or have a review night where you all act as book reviewers of the book you read.
Our kids often get assignments where they have to write a poem, and they often struggle with it. Poetry writing is not always the easiest thing to do, especially when you have LD, dyslexia, or ADHD. Even gifted kids can struggle with poetry writing. It doesn't matter if you are homeschooling or in a public school, poetry writing can be difficult for anyone. However, writing poetry doesn't have to be so-o-o hard! There are many different types of poems, and I've found one of the easiest types of poetry to teach my kids is the Haiku, specifically the Cinquain type of Haiku Poem. Learn how to use the Sentence Zone for writing poems. This is made really easy using The Sentence Zone game because you can write the poem with colors. Using The Sentence Zone game makes writing poetry easy for kids with LD, dyslexia, ADHD, or even gifted. Hope this is helpful! Don't forget to sign up for the FREE teaching and homework tips! Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET
Many of you already know that I created The Sentence Zone a number of years ago to help my students with sentence writing as well as grammar. I play it with my younger students to help them write interesting sentences instead of the 3 to 4 word sentences they usually write. I play it with my middle school students to help them out with their English grammar lessons. So my focus has always been on sentence writing, language building, and grammar. I have always told everyone that it was used at multiple ages, because it is, but I didn't think of using the game for SAT prep until Patricia Lara stopped by my office a few weeks ago. She was telling me how useful the game was in her work with SAT prep with her juniors and seniors in high school. In addition to helping them with the grammar portion of the exam, she told me how it really 'broke up' the prep sessions. Her students were able to get a break from the intensity of preparing for the exam but still learn at the same time. So, I asked her to show me how she was using the game. I think you'll enjoy this additional use. Watch and see for yourself how easy it is to learn with The Sentence Zone. It is a great test prep tool for tutors, families, homeschoolers, and teachers. Hope this has been helpful. Don't forget to sign up for the FREE Teaching and Homework Tips! And, PLEASE, Pass this post along to others! Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET
What can you do during the winter weather to help your kids improve their skills? This question is a frequent one for me. Parents are always interested in helping their kids, but it is sometimes hard to stay motivated, especially during the winter months. The following activities work well with all kids, whether they have dyslexia, LD, ADHD, are falling through the cracks, or are gifted. I have done the activities successfully with all of them! I have two favorite things to do to not only help my kids, but to stay motivated doing it too. The first thing is to have more frequent game nights, playing educational games - learning games like The Sentence Zone, The Comprehension Zone, or The Math Zone. When you play games with your kids, they build skills while having fun and get a lot of modeling from you too. At the same time you get to have quality family time, so it is a double win situation. The other activity I like to do is to have an evening where I might turn the heat up a degree or two, and everyone gets dressed in ‘summer’ clothes, and we have a ‘picnic’ on the floor of the living room. Afterwards, we might tell stories to each other – what I call ‘add-on stories.’ In these stories one person starts off and then the next person adds on to the story. We keep going round and round and the story gets longer and longer. The only thing is, the kids have to pay attention and so do you, so what you add on makes sense to the story. This builds listening comprehension and memory as well as a really good time. Hope this is helpful! Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET
When do you start giving your kids reading help? When do you teach them reading readiness? You would be amazed at the number of children I've seen over the years that have needed reading help that didn't have a solid foundation of reading readiness skills. This goes for children that are in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th grade. So, when I received the following question from Karen, I thought it would be a good idea to shed some light on reading help and reading readiness. I just received a letter from Karen regarding activities for teaching her triplets. Karen writes: "My triplets are 5 yrs. old and in kindergarten this year. One is a special needs child. I could use ideas for teaching multiples. There is no older sibling to model. Also, trying to work with our special needs daughter and the others creates many challenges." Hi Karen, I know what you mean about challenges - working with 3 kids at the same time and one of them being a special needs child can be difficult. Here are some tips for working with kids at the same time - whether they are in kindergarten or any of the primary grades. I would pick a time to work with each of the kids individually - for 10 to 15 minutes so they get some individual time with you. While working with one of them the other two can be doing something like coloring or listening to a book on tape. In fact, you can even read their favorite books into a tape - at a speed that is comfortable for them to listen to and then they can listen to you reading to them - following along with your voice - while you are doing some individual work/activity with the others. Then you are still being 'present' to the one/s you aren't working with. You might even set up a special spot with their stuffed animals and a large pillow where they get to listen to the books. So it winds up being the 'special place' where they get to listen to stories. Also, I would do things like playing Simon Says, bean- bag toss, hop-scotch, or red light green light - games that are relatively easy to do with all 3 that would also work on listening skills and following directions. You are at the perfect time for doing reading readiness activities with your kids. Remember, all kids need the following readiness skills in order to do well with school tasks. These specific readiness skills are critical to being a successful learner. Reading help is lessened when these readiness skills are in place. Readiness skills can be categorized into the following areas:
- Matching - objects and or sounds
- Size - small-medium-large; big-little; long-short; fat-thin
- Shape - circles, squares, and triangles
- Action - start - stop; slow-fast
- Position - top - bottom; under-over; forward-backward; up-down; inside-outside
- Relationships - same-different; parts-whole
- Configurations - patterns & sequencing
- Classifications - sorting objects into categories or arrange them into groups - by size, shape, or color
- Combination Concepts and Time - positions & shapes or positions and matching and time
- Listening & following directions (These skills are utilized in all of the above activities.)
Bonnie Terry Learning – Review of The Comprehension Zone: Rocket Rap This review is difficult for me to write because this product had such a dramatic and positive effect for one of our children. It has been an answer to prayer, a break-through for our child who has struggled with auditory comprehension for years. I am grateful for the opportunity to use this product that we would not have otherwise had access to, thankful for God’s sovereignty that our family was chosen for this review and that the vendor determined to send us this particular product (as part of the TOS Bloggers Program). So as you read this review realize that I’m not unbiased, know that I’m indebted to this product for helping my child in a way that I had failed to help him on my own and take from it what you will. Bonnie Terry Learning focuses on products for the struggling learner. The goal is to enable you to be better equipped to develop strong reading, writing and math skills in your child with dyslexia, ADD, Autism or other general learning difficulties. Even gifted children can struggle in some of these areas and Bonnie Terry aims at smoothing out those bumps in the road of education. They try to help you “think outside the box” to address your child’s difficulties from an angle, direction or perspective that you may not have considered, a direction that may be the difference between success or struggle for your child. Bonnie Terry offers a variety of games and products to improve reading, writing, math and study skills for children 7 years and older. Bonnie Terry Learning sent our family The Comprehension Zone: Rocket Rap ($67). Rocket Rap is geared for 1st grade through adult to help develop and strengthen reading or listening comprehension. The game comes with 3 sets of cards written at different reading/listening levels (2nd-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade and 7th-12th grade). Each set of cards can be used in several different ways. Children can find the factual information, the main point or work on sequencing. Children are able to read the cards themselves or may listen as you read to them in order to work on either reading or listening comprehension. This versatility makes it easy to play the game with children at multiple reading/listening levels at the same time. The cards are self-correcting and include hints to help your child succeed and even allow for using a helper in the scoring. The Rocket Rap game consists of a high-quality, over-sized vinyl game mat, 3 sets of cards, four playing pieces and a die. Play progresses by the child reading or listening to the paragraph on the card. Then they complete their task depending on their level. Beginners name two facts from the card, intermediates relay the main point of the paragraph AND two facts and advanced students use several cards at a time and put them in the proper chronological order. Each time the child completes their task they get to roll the die and move. If they need to use one of the helpers you take one point off of their roll. All of our children from 1st grade up were able to play together, which as you know is an important feature for our family. Our older children (10, 11 and 13) were able to easily complete the comprehension activities on all levels of cards, but enjoyed working on the sequencing. Our 9 year old was happy to play with the 7th-12th grade cards. The game was interesting enough to the kids that they wanted to play multiple times, even when some of the novelty had worn off. Pros: * multi-level play * nice, high quality game * lots of fun facts about people and planets included on the cards * improves focus on the task at hand * gives older children an opportunity to read out loud * ability to focus on several different aspects of comprehension Cons: * price * there should be more cards (in my opinion) * not a fast-paced, edge of your seat type of game, but our children all enjoyed playing it, so what can I say? What Rocket Rap did for our child: The Comprehension Zone: Rocket Rap had amazing results for one of our children. We have been working with him on comprehension for years. I often have him draw pictures of what I’m reading, we act things out and we read just a few phrases at a time and ask him questions whenever we are dealing with auditory learning. He simply struggles in this area. I was interested to see how he would do with Rocket Rap. I began with the easiest level. I read the card to him and he was to tell me 2 facts from the card. When it was time for him to answer all I got was a blank stare. When prompted with the helpers, he was still unable to answer. I was honestly shocked that he could not do this. The cards we were using only have 3-5 sentences, are chock full of facts and he couldn’t pick out one. I ended up modifying the game for him, rather than have him tell me two facts per card to earn one roll of the die, I gave him one roll of the die for each fact he could pick out and we used lots of helpers. He was still unable to finish the game. We began playing Rocket Rap more often. The improvement was rapid and dramatic! By the end of the next game he was able to play without my previous modifications and currently it is easy enough for him to pick out facts while listening that he likes to try reading the card himself. For the first time in his life our child will raise his hand when Mark asks questions during family worship and he will know the answer. He will come up to us after church and spontaneously tell us something that he learned from the sermon. He is so amazingly proud of himself and I’m amazingly thankful. Final thoughts: As I mentioned this is a tough review. For 8 of our children this game would be a fun, helpful activity that is not worth $67, but for one child, for these results, I would happily pay double. We’ve tried things similar to this in the past, we’ve been focused on this problem for years, but Rocket Rap has been the first activity that has been successful. If you have a child who struggles with reading or listening comprehension, I certainly think that Bonnie Terry’s The Comprehension Zone: Rocket Rap is worth a look. If any of you decide to go this route, I’d love to hear what you think. Have our results been typical? You may read more reviews of Rocket Rap and other Bonnie Terry Learning products at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog. You may read more of my homeschool curriculum reviews on my review page. Bonnie Terry Learning sent The Comprehension Zone: Rocket Rap to our family free of charge (part of the TOS Bloggers Program) to enable me to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own and I am not otherwise reimbursed for any reviews here on Raising Olives.
Parents often ask me what they can do to help their kids improve their math skills. One of the most important things to do when trying to improve any skills, whether they are math skills, reading skills, or writing skills is to help your kids dissolve their fear of math, reading, or writing. This is especially important when your child has dyslexia, dyscalculia (a math disability) or ADHD. So, how do you help these kids that don't like a particular subject, often because they aren't very good at it? One of the best ways I've found to help my LD, dyslexic, or ADHD kids learn to like learning is to play games. Game playing helps reduce the fears kids have. Games put your kids into a relaxed state when learning. Kids often make greater gains in their skills when they are in a relaxed state. Watch how this family plays the Math Zone. They have fun and learn at the same time. Don't forget to sign up for the FREE Teaching Tips to your right. Hope this is helpful, Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET P.S.: Be sure to leave a comment below and ask your questions to the right.