As this school year kicks off there is something missing on the computers in our district. Traditionally we have a series of application known to our students as, free choice games. These games include the likes of Super Tux, Marble Blast, Wingnuts, and other cherished favorites.
It has been interesting sitting on the fence between educational technology and the technology analysts and network administrators for the last year and a half. Last year I watched as login slowed to a crawl, computer functionality falter, and the analysts and computer lab teacher investigate. This time the culprit.... these free choice games. These particular games are awesome, but resource intensive. These games also caused storage problems because of the students copied the apps to their personal desktops/accounts.Even the very best teacher monitoring can't totally prevent determined students from playing. Once these games were removed from the computers and server, the problem disappeared.
As a teacher, I always felt it was important to have rewards for students... sitting in the teacher's chair, extra recess time, no homework coupon, and free choice computer or Palm Pilot time. However, I found it difficult to justify letting the students play games. To me, the games had to have an educational component. Our time with students is so limited, we want to make the best of every possible moment. My workaround was to compile a list of sites that had educational games and give students choices within the list.
So, for the benefit of our teachers, I thought I would share some of my favorites for elementary students:
Please be aware that I am compiling this list from home. Some of these sites may be blocked at school, due to ads or additional links on the pages. Our ultimate goal is to keep students safe, so if they are able to click out of the site and head elsewhere, we just need to move on to another site.
Finding Educational Games
Nobel Prize (middle/high level)
Play Kids Games
Academic Skill Builders
i Know That
This is only a small sampling of sites available. If you have some favorites, please feel free to share.