Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How do we get kid's BRAINS involved, not just their minds.

The way our brains function has not changed much over the years. Our brains may still think we are living in a cave, trying to find food, and the only things that can keep our interest have to be important for survival.

Our minds have changed, most definitely, over the years. We know what is important, what is required,... and it no longer thinks of rabbits as dinner. But, how can we get our brains and minds to communicate better?

Have you ever been studying for a test, and your mind really wants to study for the test, but your brain did not seem to get the message? Even if the topic is interesting, the textbook is dry and you keep reading the same pages over and over again. Your mind may be motivated, but the brain is thinking that it is boring. Your brain and your mind are in an epic battle.

In a recent conference I went to at SXSW, I listened to very interesting talk on how we can help to engage the brain in our lessons. Here are some of my notes:

Chemistry - make the brain know what matters - that which you feel is what the brain senses is important. Anything that causes a chemical signal to go to the brain, helps the brain latch onto the thoughts.

Things that are novel, strange, or a little weird, last longer in your memory. Even extreme emotions of any type help to concrete the memory. Faces really help the brain wake up!
Mystery, things that are not fully formed, the brain is tuned to figure it out.

Brain does not care about cliche', code, boring...

Talk to the BRAIN NOT the mind... they are in an epic battle.

This really got me thinking. As an educational game designer, I have the benefit of having pictures and animations to entice the brain, but am I using them to their best ability? This has challenged me to try to incorporate some of the chemistry of the brain into my future games. I would love to create a mystery, where the student is actually working through the process of solving a proof, but in a way that he/she does not even realize it until the end.

Would engaging the brain make my games different or is that the basic difference already between game-teaching and book-teaching? I know many teachers who are great at engaging the brain in the classroom. My daughter is a definite tactile learner, and she has found ways to engage her brain when it comes to learning boring information.

So, I guess that is my challenge of today,... let's engage the BRAIN, not just the mind!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Avatar of Importance??

On my website I have a contact form that generates easily upward of 30 emails a week. In the last few weeks several of these emails have been requesting a place to log-in the site and create an avatar. Most of those emails requested that the games give coins so they can purchase more things for their avatars and/or buy a house for their avatar.

While all of these options sound very cool, they are more than a little time-consuming. I do not want to make my site a "log-in required" website as I feel it would leave out many children who could enjoy the games. I have been debating, however, adding in a simple avatar/log-in. So many other sites, that are much larger than mine, are doing the avatar/house/money thing, that I figured it was overdone. But, considering the amount of emails I receive,... done or not, kids still want it!

If I were to do this, it would mean that on each page, there would be a section in the side bar that would have an avatar with a log-in. The child could create an avatar to look whatever way they would like, and then that character would greet them when they came to the site.

So, fairly soon, probably in May or June, I will be starting to implement this avatar creation process somewhere on the site. I am sure I will start with just having a face of a character. Then, if that is popular enough, I can slowly expand to their full body. I want my site to be able to offer the latest coolest thing for the kids that will not distract from their learning. So, maybe this will help keep the kids involved with the games.

It would be super cool to be able to make how many time you play the games add to the clothes that are available to you, but I do not believe that I am ready to take it to that level just yet. My site is a solo project and done with my passion for kids and education. Unfortunately, that passion does not come with money or time! lol

Thanks for reading this as I ramble on. So many thoughts are flooding into my head!!!

Fun4theBrain heading into space!

The game that I am working on now is going to be in space! Feebur is a very cute little alien boy. He desperately wants a puppy like the ones he has seen on his adventures to Earth. But, here on Looba-looba, there are no dogs or puppies.

But, Feebur is far from deterred by this. He has decided to make his own robot dog and name him Spinky. You will be helping Feebur as he heads around his planet's shopping district to get all the parts he needs to make Spinky.

This game will be available for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Let me know what you think.

New Games on Fun4theBrain

I have added a new game to Fun4theBrain! Enjoy the new Aquatic Speedway game that has you racing different aquatic animals. The faster you answer your question correctly, the faster you fish will go. Then, see what place you end up in on the winner's stand!

Addition - Aquatic Speedway
Subtraction - Aquatic Speedway
Division - Aquatic Speedway

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

International Fun4theBrain update

Hey there, everyone! I now have my games being translated into Danish, Dutch, and French. I could really use a couple of Spanish translators. So, if you know Spanish fluently, and have some spare time to help the site out, let me know!

Also still looking for the following languages: German, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Marathi, Italian, and any others that are needed.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Math Models - First International Game!

Math Models is now in French and Danish! Check them out!

Les Mannequins des Math - Addition Game
Les Mannequins des Math - Subtraction Game
Les Mannequins des Math - Division Game

Matematik Modeller - Addition Game
Matematik Modeller - Subtraction Game
Matematik Modeller - Division Game

International Fun4theBrain

I have had many requests to have my games translated into other languages. I am very eager to have this happen, but, I need your help. If you have certain languages in which you would like to see my games, please e-mail me. Also, if you have the time and ability to help me translate my games, I would love to hear from you as well.

I am glad that so many students are having fun with my games and I cannot wait until students around the globe can understand them as well!

Update: So far I have translators for Spanish, French, and possibly Danish. How fun! It may take some time for this to happen, but I am excited anyway!

Other languages desired: Russian, Danish, German, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Bengali, and any others that are requested.

Corrections Made

Thanks to everyone who is writing to let me know of games that have incorrect problems. Please continue to send me any corrections that need to be done. The following games have been corrected:

* Pizza Pizzaz - Division (03/09)
* Knight & Princess - Division (03/09)
* Cone Crazy - Subtraction (03/09)

Game Ideas

I love to get emails from teachers and students telling me their ideas for fun and exciting games or a topic that is hard to teach without an interactive visual. Let me know if you have a certain topic or particular game idea that you would like to see on this site. I am starting to create tutorials. Email me with any game/ activity ideas that you have. If I use your idea, you will receive credit on the front page of the website!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pizza PIzzazz - Educational Game Update

Another new game is ready to play! Serve pizza to a bunch of hungry mice! Get enough correct and you can design your own pizza! My favorite is the donut pizza! This game requires you to do your math problem to figure out to which table you should deliver your pizza. Have fun!!

Pizza Pizzazz - addition
Pizza Pizzazz - subtraction
Pizza Pizzazz - multiplication
Pizza Pizzazz - division

Math Monsters - New Educational Game Update

Another new game! I did not want to only have the Math Models, so I also created Math Monsters. Kids can have fun practicing their math facts while they create crazy, cool, or scary alien monsters. Everything from wacky to super cool is possible with this fun math game!

Math Monsters - addition
Math Monsters - subtraction
Math Monsters - multiplication
Math Monsters - division

Math Models - New Educational Game Update

Hey there everyone! I posted a new game today. This one is a great game for the girls as they can put together fun outfits after they finish their math problems. It can be quite funny as outfits are randomly put together while they are doing the math. I am sure the girls will love it!

Math Models - addition version
Math Models - subtraction version
Math Models - multiplication version
Math Models - division version

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Games to Teach or Entertain?

As I design each of my games, I need to consider the weight of both the education portion and the game portion. I want kids to want to play the games, but I want the teachers and parents to want to let them play the games. Too much fun, very little education and review seems to happen. But, too much education, and the kids do not want to play the game.

So, where is the magical line. Recently I have been trying a new method with some of my math games. When they are working on the math, that is all they do. There are some fun graphics, but not a ton of interaction and movement. However, once they finish a certain number of math problems correctly, they get the reward of playing a game. I have found that some sort of time limit is required on those sections or the kids will never get back to the math.

So far my most popular games of this style are my platform games. Super Stars and Beach Rush both use the reward of climbing through a platform game, similar to Mario Bros style, as their motivation to do their math problems. Before the student finishes their game levels, or their lives, they will have finished at least 30 math problems. At this point, these have been quite popular.

I am looking forward to trying different methods to combine the fun and education. I will keep you posted as to what I come up with for my experiments.

Starting to Blog -- Scary!

I have decided that it is time for me to join the blogging party. I hope I will be able to add some interesting information here about how I work and all the exciting educational games that I am creating. Hopefully, you all will be able to contribute some fun too! I am creating this to support my site http://www.fun4thebrain.com because I get many emails asking how I come up with my ideas for combining math and fun games. So, here is where you will hear all the juicy details