Monday, May 7, 2012

Problem Solving

I am always on the look out for online activities that will challenge my students to use their brains and think outside the box. There are a number of great problem solving sites that I have found that encourage my students use their noggins and the sense of pride and accomplishment they feel when they have mastered a task is amazing!


Ballooner (Kindergarten - Grade 3)
Ballooner was create by the site coolmath.com. Students have to go through a series of steps in their correct order to release balloons. I provide encouragement and tips as students play, but ultimately make them work through the levels on their own. I do let students help each other out. It seems that the students that seem to do very well academically are the first to give up when they can't figure it out; I love the pride on my their little faces as the ones that typically struggle are explaining how to pass the levels to their peers!


When I introduced Fantastic Contraption to my students a few months ago, I was amazed by their enthusiasm for it. I had 2 students that loathe school staying late to try and master levels and showing up early to share the progress they had made at home. This activity challenges students to use wheels, gears, and spacial reasoning to move a designated object into a designated box. The game provides a step-by-step tutorial that I do whole class on the SMARTBoard before sending kids to their own computers. There are 2 versions of this game, start with the original Fantastic Contraption and then move on to Fantastic Contraption 2.



Magic Pen/Magic Pen 2 (Grade 3 - Grade 6)
Students will need to help draw ramps, levers, and balls to help move a designated ball from one side of the screen to the flag. There is a great step-by-step tutorial at the beginning. Just a heads up; there are video ads prior to these games being loaded.



Light Bot/Light Bot 2.0 (Grade 5 - Grade 6)
This activity is a great predecessor to teaching students programming skills and the concept of using functions. Students have to move the bot onto blue squares and light him up. I suggest going through the levels ahead of time and even printing out the solutions to a couple of the tricky ones! Like Magic Pen, there is a video ad at the beginning that is unavoidable to play.


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