This is a guest blog post from Brian King, founder of Room Recess. Brian reached out to me because he believes in teaching math creatively as well. I was thrilled to get him on this blog because his website is awesome, especially knowing he programmed these games himself. We all know that students love gaming, and this type of thing often inspires students to learn more about programming, too.
Parents and teachers are always looking for ways to keep their children engaged, motivated and driven to learn. I know this because I am both. I’m Brian King. I have two children of my own, am a third grade teacher and the developer of RoomRecess.com
, an educational website for children.It always bothered me when students in my class would get done with their work and spend time on the computer doing things on sites that were advertised as educational, but were far from it. So I decided to create a website just for my class that would host games they could play during their down time, that also reinforced what I wanted them to practice. As a teacher, I know that most children don’t get the repetition they need with many of the basic skills required for a successful learning experience. What better way to reinforce these skills than to integrate them into the very games they play in their free time.
It all started with a simple game called Cheese Race. I started with two cartoon mice that had to race to a piece of cheese, except the only way to move the mouse was to get multiplication problems correct. It was a big hit in my classroom, so from that point I became very motivated, seeing my students’ joy of learning in this way, and began developing about one game per week, focusing on the skills written out in our Common Core State Standards. I called my website RoomRecess.com (primarily because it was something my kids started playing in the winter when they were stuck in the classroom for recess). Right now, RoomRecess.com has nearly 40 games, all categorized by grade or subject matter (math, reading skills, spelling, and language arts).
When I sit down to develop a game, I first think, “What is something my class gets excited about?” (ice cream, thunderstorms, snowball fights) and from there, I insert something I feel they need to work on and try to add varying levels for other grades. One of my personal favorites is Tic-Math-Toe, a game that children can play against a friend or the computer. Either way, they have to answer a math problem correct in order to place their X or O on the grid (difficulty ranges from kindergarten to 5th grade). Most of my games are designed to be played on an interactive, projected screen like a Smartboard, and many of the games can be played together or as teams, but all of them can be played from a desktop computer or laptop. I designed a flash card game that could be played on the Smartboard in such a way that allows them to play in teams. Flash Card Races (I call it) allows the children to pick team names, the winning score, and problem difficulty. It’s a great way to start off a morning or get them engaged just before a lesson. My personal favorite is Word War. In Word War, each player has a tank and get 30 seconds to spell a word from 12 randomly chosen letters. Upon completion, cannonballs are fired from the tank, each containing a value equal to the value of the letters used to form the word. A few other popular games are Zombie Paintball (number patterns), Snowball Fight (basic facts), Bango (place value), and Bounce (spelling).
All games at RoomRecess.com are free and available for everyone to play at any time. There is no requirement to sign up or hold an account. It’s a great resource for teachers and parents to use with their children at home or at school. The only requirement to play is that the device you use has Adobe Flash Player, which most computers already have, but can also be downloaded for free.