Archive for category: On the Internet

Plangman = online game + literacy!

Kids often learn the most when they don’t even realize they’re learning.

Online games are great for that. But the game has to be (a) fun, (b) easy to play, and (c) smart.

Plangman ticks all those boxes.

Kids will not only enjoy Plangman, but they’ll be thinking ahead, reading a storyline, putting together letters and spelling out words that are sometimes quite challenging. In short, they’ll be reading and learning. And having fun.

The “angman” in the game’s name is from hangman–Plangman is a version of hangman in that the goal is to guess the missing letters and fill them in. Don’t ask me what the Pl is from. Play, maybe? Platform? (An online “platforming” game is one like Mario, where the character runs around and jumps onto platforms, etc.)

CapturePlangman 2 2016

The clue (so far) is _ovel_ … novels. So the little person has to run, jump and fly around to find the n and the s to complete the secret word. In the meantime, the letter boxes can be pushed (the r has fallen, for instance) and sometimes they fall into space, taking you with them. Fun!

In Plangman, you are a little person, running through space, leaping onto letter blocks. You want to leap on the right letters, and avoid the wrong ones.

Hanging in “space” are a series of blanks. In order to figure out what word you’re making, you need to run over to the star and grab it. That will cause a picture to appear. That image is your clue as to what the word is.

Capture Plangman 2 3 2016

Yeah… I had to Google Eowyn. But your kid won’t, guaranteed. (Lord of the Rings, btw.)

The other clue, just like hangman, is the number of blanks, or letters, that comprise the word.

Link to Plangman
To play Plangman, go to: http://plangman.com
You will need to use the Firefox browser if you want to play Plangman online, because it supports “Unity.” It’s all very above-board, and those are both extremely popular programs so don’t worry about using them. And when you download Firefox, it just sits on your computer and you can use it later–it won’t take over your IE or Chrome browsing. If you don’t want to do all that, you can also download it*.

You jump on the letters, and if it’s in the secret word, it will show up in the appropriate blank. If it’s not in the word, your letter block will fall away into space, possibly taking you with it. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to stay alive–all you have to do is jump off the falling block before it gets too far down.

Also fortunately, you never really die. There are lots of lives, so you just start over.

This game looks simple–very retro, which is totally in right now, of course–but it’s engaging, challenging (but not too challenging) and it really makes you think.

Plangman has an interesting storyline. Each word you reveal is integral to the story. There was another game, also developed by Ehren von Lehe, called Langman. It’s great too, but Plangman’s storyline is a bit more literature-focussed. It harkens back to a number of great books like The Lord of the Rings and references literary characters as well.

Try Plangman, and even if it’s not for you, point your kid toward it. I’m pretty sure it will be a hit.

And do try LangmanCapture plangman (you can play it here, on the awesome online game review website Kongregate), as well. Fun! My 2011 review of Langman.

If you’d prefer to download Plangman and play it offline, on your computer, here’s how:
Download it from http://vonlehecreative.itch.io/plangman. (Just click “Download Now” and then “No thanks, just take me to the downloads”.)

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Great online word game: Words Warrior

Words Warrior captureThis is a wonderful game that hits all the right notes: reading, strategic thinking and fun. Kids won’t even realize they’re learning–plus, it’s not lame (if you’ve ever played an online game that’s “good for you,” you’ll see how important that is, and how rare).

You use your computer’s arrow keys to move your knight across the sentences, reading as you go.

Each sentence contains clues as to what’s up ahead–for instance, a vampire–as well as tools to help you overcome the monsters and problems. For instance, pick up the bridge to span the gap before you fall into it.

Even better, your character can’t win right off the bat. He’ll have to discover and be defeated a few times, before you can figure out which words will help you succeed. So good.

Play Words Warrior here (via Bonte Games).

 

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In-car literacy activities

carHere are some good ideas to help boost your child’s literacy without leaving the back seat. (Them, not you. You’re driving. Hands on the wheel!)

The post also has ideas for apps and in-car activities for kids.

From Scholastic.

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Media Literacy and “Teaching Kids News”

TKN_logoI’m a freelance journalist who is also involved in children’s literacy.

A few years ago, I brought those two aspects of my life together to co-create: TeachingKidsNews.com (TKN).

(Here’s the story of how TKN got started: an interested parent + an enthusiastic teacher.)

TKN provides daily, kid-friendly news. For each article we add teaching questions taken from the school curriculum.

So, kids can find out what’s happening in the “real” news–and teachers/homeschool parents can cover off the curriculum.

Recently, TVOParents talked to the founders of TKN about media literacy and why it’s so important for kids to develop critical media literacy skills.

Here is TVO’s wonderful piece on TKN and media literacy.

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Strange word game – but fun!

monkey-go-happy-guess-starfishMonkey GO Happy, Guess? is an odd game, yes it is.

But it’s fun. Kids’ll like it.

And you can’t deny, it’s all about words.

The online game is one of a series of simple, quirky word games by PencilKids.

In Monkey GO Happy, Guess? (the spelling and punctuation of its name belie its oddness) you have to figure out what word is needed, based on a picture clue.

For instance, a picture of a STAR plus a picture of a FISH would equal STARFISH.
The clues get progressively stranger, albeit not necessarily much more difficult, as you proceed.

Every time you get one right you earn coins.

Underlying all of the oddness is oddly catchy music, bonus games in which you have to figure out roman numerals based on clues, the occasional brainteaser plus the chance to use your accumulated coins to buy mini-prizes (a trampoline, a car) for the little monkeys at the bottom of the page.

It’s all very odd, but fun. And word-oriented.

The link for this game is via Bart Bonte‘s excellent online casual games page.
You can search his site for the other Monkey GO Happy games.

 

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More about the three important literacy boosters

49th shelf logoWe’ve talked before on GKR about the three most important things you can do for your kids to get them reading.

(Hint – there’re in the sidebar, over there on the right-hand side!)

The fine people at 49th Shelf, a Canadian literature site, have allowed me to talk a bit about them. Just in time for Family Literacy Day, Jan. 27.

(If you’re not familiar with 49th Shelf, get yerself on over there and check it out. It’s a terrific website that promotes Canadian literature.)

And by the way, if you’re looking for something to do to celebrate Literacy Day this weekend, come on down to my book launch for Gabby.

It’s this Sunday at 1:00 at the International Travel Authority cafe, 1165 Bloor St. W., Toronto. There’ll be cake!

 

Here’s the article on 49th Shelf.

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Must Pop Words – great game for literacy, typing skills

must pop words enterHere’s a smart, fun game that’s great for literacy and for improving typing skills.

In Must Pop Words, letters – inside bouncy balls – fall down and accumulate at the bottom of the page.

You have to type words using the letters. Every word you type erases those letters. If the letters pile up to the top of the page (which they will inevitably do) you lose.

Little tasks like, “create a word ending with e” or “create a six-letter word” let you earn extra points.

The balls bouncing around and the cute penguin who sticks his head in every once in awhile make this a signature Bart Bonte game – one of a series of elegant, fun games you can find on his website. (In my opinion, Bonte is the best casual game designer on the Internet.) Enjoy!

Play Must Pop Words here.

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An awesome way to remember “subject” and “predicate”

“Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says – he does!”

Thanks to Tina, via her FB page, for this.
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DrawaStickman.com

Draw a stickman.comYour kid will love this.

You draw a stick figure, and the website brings it to life.

There is a literacy component, because the site takes the stickman through a plotline. You’re given instructions like, “draw a key in my hand” before he can open a locked box.

Kids have to read and understand the instructions, and then figure out how to fulfill them.

(So like life.)

There’s plenty of action to keep kids interested in the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but think dragon, fire, flood… cartoony, though, not scary.

And throughout it all is a very quirky sense of silliness. For instance, at some point the site itself catches on fire and detritus drops on the dragon’s head. Stuff that kids love.

After you’ve finished the scenario – a couple of times, likely – take a look at the gallery. People have done some pretty incredible “stickmen,” like Steve Jobs, Gandolf, anime and other really inventive characters.

Visit www.drawastickman.com.

 

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For the love of books

This is the video that’s recently gone viral. If you (and your kid) haven’t seen it, you must – it’s lovely. One-minute and 52 seconds of delightful, stop-motion, book-adoration.

Visited the bookstore “Type” in Toronto this morning and got the back-story: Apparently a couple of filmmakers (Sean Ohlenkamp for one) have made these kinds of videos before on a smaller scale. They wanted a larger venue, so they approached the owners of Type, who were happy to accommodate. Type let them take over the store for a number of nights from 9 p.m. until the next morning, when all the books – of course – had to be back on the shelves, in order.

They had about 20 volunteers to help them reshelve each night. (The books didn’t go back by themselves, unfortunately.) It took over a year to edit.

The video came out a couple of days ago and it’s really taken off. Gotten coverage throughout North America. Yay for Type – and books! (And my friend Val, who originally sent me the link to the video!)

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