This week, I began using Educaplay to make fun classroom learning games for my students. In addition to easy game creation, sending the games to Google Classroom was easy, as was student work, automatic grading, and engagement. Many of us who have been teaching online need some variety. Presently, the site has many different types of activities and games: memory games, video quizzes, crossword puzzles, word search, fill in the blanks, diagram completion (they call these map quizzes), quizzes, word search, and more.
Additionally, activities I've not seen anywhere else that are particularly customized to language and ESL teachers like dialogue games and dictation games. In this blog post, I'll share what I've learned about Educaplay, my classroom experiences, and recommendations for how you can use these activities and games in your classroom, as well as the subject areas I recommend for each type of game.
Educaplay currently has sixteen types of games and activities you can create. I will give you recommendations about the classroom uses of each type of game and show you examples.
Tip #1: Dig into the Pre-made Games
First, my biggest recommendation is to use the “area of knowledge in each type of game and click on your subject area. You'll then see many topics you may be trying to teach and can look at ideas and suggestions.
Tip #2: Skip to 47 seconds on the Tutorial Videos
Additionally, when you launch a type of classroom games that you've not built before, Educaplay will share a short tutorial video to help you create that type of activity. Because the videos begin with how to set up an Educaplay account, I recommend that you skip to 47 seconds by dragging the slider bar so you can get directly to how to create the specific classroom learning game.
1. ABC Games: For Comprehensive Vocabulary
This type of classroom game requires quite a few items because it goes through the alphabet to test knowledge. For example, in the Flags of Countries ABC game, you see a flag for a country that letter of the alphabet, and you have to spell it and type it correctly. There are games with capitals of countries, Spanish vocabulary, Skeletons, and other comprehensive topics where there are many choices. See the full database.
Tip #3: Use ABC Games for Comprehensive Review
ABC Games make excellent comprehensive reviews for students who can already type.
Tip #4: Create a Word Bank in Educaplay Assignments
Additionally, I recommend having words from a chapter or section of your book for those who need a word bank. This week, I put my word bank in the description in my Google Classroom assignment. Use word banks for all of the Educaplay games unless you can point students to a word bank in your textbook or another printed resource.
2. Crossword Puzzle Games
In this activity, you create a traditional crossword puzzle with clues. In this case, words from the book or handouts words can be helpful since the word bank does not appear on the page. Review of vocabulary as well as the spelling of words with this activity. Students can show letters to receive hints. I’ve noticed quite a few crosswords for the Spanish language, but there are crossword puzzles for many topics at Educaplay.
This week, I created a quick review crossword puzzle of the conversations we had in Zoom about technology change, types of interfaces, input, output, and processing devices. Then, I sent it Google Classroom using the share button. As students completed the activity, they clicked the “check” button at the bottom, and the activity was graded and sent to Google Classroom.
Tip #5: Teach Students to Use the Word Bank Beside the Activity
With Tip 3 in mind of creating a word bank, I had students put the word bank beside the activity on the right. This helped them get the work done more quickly.
Tip #6: Make Sure Students Click the “Check” Button
To ensure that grades travel from Educaplay to Google Classroom, students must click the “Check” button at the activity's bottom. I saw two students complete the crossword puzzle and close the browser tab without clicking “check.” These two students had to redo the work so that the grade would travel from Educaplay into Google Classroom.
3. Dialog Games
Dialog games are another excellent resource for language and ESL teachers. Students can play the dialog and listen to the conversation. They can mute the conversation and say it themselves. Since you have to write the dialog and record the audio, and upload it, I also recommend that students make dialog games to share with the teacher and one another.
There is a nice repository of conversations for language teachers, particularly Spanish.
Tip #7: Use Dialog Games to Help Students Practice Conversations When Learning Language
Dialogs are a great way for students to practice to prepare to have a conversation with their teacher. I’ve not seen anything like this activity, and it should be a handy tool for those learning languages. Students could even make these to create more classroom games for conversational practice.
4. Dictation Games
In dictation games, students listen to the words and have to type what they hear. The teacher can set requirements for capitalization, accents, and other settings. You will type the words exactly as you want them entered and record the audio. This is fantastic not only for language learners but for spelling practice. Students can hear how you pronounce the word and have it checked as they practice. The majority of games at this point are languages, but I think that any topic requiring practice — even keyboarding or spelling dictation would be helpful.
Tip #8: Create Games to Encourage Student Practice
As a Mom who often had to call out spelling tests, I think this is a fantastic way for students to practice before the test. To support parents and student review, I suggest making games for spelling words or language practice and post them to your Learning Management System (LMS) for review. Parents (and students) will appreciate it!
5. Fill in the Blanks Games
I particularly like the fill in the blanks games because they have word banks. In addition to vocabulary, I see memorization of songs, Bible verses, and other topics facilitated in the fill in the blanks games. As many students are at home, this can also provide immediate feedback if the teacher has the key as students practice and prepare.
Tip #9: Automatically Grade Fill In the Blanks
In light of needing to automate grading, using this game to grade automatically can save teachers' time. In this case, if students are at home and perhaps not coming to Zoom or not accessing answer keys, this is a simple way to have students complete their work with a word bank and provide immediate feedback to students on the accuracy of their work.
Tip #10: Encourage Students to Memorize Music, Passages, and More
As many music teachers struggle to create performances and activities without having a lot of face to face time with students, Fill in the Blanks can help with memorization. Those teachers also having Scripture memory or memorization of passages like the Preamble of the Constitution or other important documents, Fill in the Blanks, will save time and encourage memorization even when time is short.
6. Map Games: For Science and Geography Teachers (and More)
Don’t let the term “map” fool you. As shown in the graphic below, any graphic where a student needs to identify the parts — from biology to places on a map, map games let you do that. While some teachers have made their map games where students remember and type in words directly (like the honors version of this heart graphic), the guided “click” request is also a powerful feature of this tool. This will be a favorite tool of Geography teachers and science teachers and certainly, many maps are already created for both of these topics. Fantastic resources!
Tip #11: Use Geography and Biology Diagrams Already Created For You
When you click on the map game index, look on the left side to click on your subject and find “maps” or graphics that you can use in your topics. There are even technology and sociology map games you can use.
7. Matching Columns Games
While any subjects can use these games, there are many matching columns games already made for kindergarten teachers as you help students understand sounds and learn to read, like the “Qu” matching columns game shown below.
Tip #12: Use Matching Column Games to Reinforce Letters and Letter Sounds
The matching column resources are perfect for kindergarten and lower elementary teachers working with phonetic sounds and word recognition. Many games are already made for teachers, so search for a letter or letter sound before making your own.
8. Matching Game
In the Matching Game, students categorize things by selecting items that belong to the category. For example, in the “Zones of Regulation” vocabulary (shown below), students select emotions that go with different zones. Science matching games have students select parts of different systems, homeostasis and water principles, and more.
Tip #13: Use Matching Games to Review the Categorization of Items
As shown in the graphic, when students have to recall items' categorization, matching games are perfect. I'm going to use it this week to review the input, output, and processing devices. I also like that it can be set to review categorization lists after the work is completed.
9. Memory Game
The traditional memory game has been used to help students remember and match items. These games also can already have cards flipped over, or they can be hidden from students. Admittedly, memory games have never been my favorite; hundreds of games have been created for math, art, and biology subjects and over 3,000 games for languages. I also like the PE teacher who had students match muscles with exercises and then encouraged them to do the exercise after completing the match.
Tip #14: Use Sound, Pictures, and Words to Make Games More Useful
In addition to text, most Educaplay games (like the Memory game) can use pictures and audio. Audio can be prerecorded or recorded and uploaded inside the game. (Remember to click the “upload” button after recording your audio.) The matching games that include text and audio are useful but push the memory a little further, so you might want to have cards already flipped over and not hidden when you use audio files.
Quizzes can be created with videos, audio, text, and images. Students can also answer multiple-choice, single line answers, or multi-line answers, as shown in the “add a question” dialog box.
Tip #15: Use Multimedia to Automate Quizzes Remotely
For example, if a teacher has a spelling test to give, the teacher could record a teacher calling out the word and explaining it. Additionally, teachers can ask questions orally to make understanding each question easier. Consider multimedia, audio, and images in addition to text-based questions.
Tip #16: Create a Question Set, So Each Quiz Is Different
While configuring the quiz, a teacher can create a full bank of questions and have the computer select a certain number of test questions. Additionally, the order can be randomized. Remember, also, to establish if the case makes a difference or not. Remember to set whether the activity can be restarted and what text will be shown when passing the activity. I also recommend turning off anonymous mode for taking the quiz/ test.
Tip #17: Give a Practice Quiz and Observe Student Work to Better Understand the Features
As soon as I introduce a new tool to my students, I create a “beta testing” class for the app or tool. Therefore, before you use this tool for an “official” quiz, I recommend having a group of students practice the quiz in class to give you feedback and see how things work as students take the quiz and test. If this is not an option for you, you should take the quiz yourself to understand how it will work. After creating your first quiz and understanding it, you should be ready to move forward with assessments using this tool.
Sometimes a fun riddle is a great way to start class. Educaplay can give clues in the form of questions and reveal more of an image each time a clue is given.
Tip #18: Use Riddles as Fun Ways to Begin or End Class with a “Check” Grade
If you have a major concept or topic, you can have a riddle for the class. I like that you can add images to the riddle, which aids in recall. I don't necessarily recommend grading these, but I prefer to use them as a work ethic grade or “check” grade if a student completes the activity. In this case, I let it auto-grade and go to Google Classroom, but then override the grade in Google Classroom so those who complete it receive a 100. This is just my personal preference.
In this activity, students are given content to review in a slide show format. Questions can be shared on the screen, and then answers should be shown on the next slide. While this doesn't check the answers for students, it does let students review and self-check work. Additionally, since slide creation may be easier, you could embed Google Slides or other activities on the slideshow.
This does, however, allow you to add audio and other multimedia to your slides. This is a simple way to share slides that might be usable for those who do not have access to Google Slides or PowerPoint.
Tip #19: See What is Already Created
To save time, search for slideshows on your topic. For example, this slide show on how to read population pyramids is useful. I recommend searching Educaplay when you have content to teach. If you find a pre-made slide show, you can easily share it using a code or send it directly to Google Classroom or your Learning Management System.
13. Unscramble Letters Game
In this activity, students unscramble the letters for a topic. Note that this is unscrambling just one word, so it would be useful as a ticket to leave or enter. Students can fill in the words by typing them, dragging them, or clicking them in. Again, audio, pictures, and images can be used.
Tip #20: Use the Unscramble Word Game As a Follow Up to the Dictation Game
As teachers know, formative assessment helps us review areas where students are struggling. As a result of the dictation game shown above, a teacher can select the word that gives students the most problem and make an unscramble word game to start class the next day. Since you have only one word, select problematic words to quickly review.
14. Unscramble Words Game
This is another great one for a ticket to leave or a ticket to enter, as you will unscramble and put a sentence together, making it perfect for the next step of memorization.
Tip #21: Use the Unscramble Words Game After Fill In the Blanks
As the next step from filling in the blanks, have students complete everything in a passage or sentence using the Unscramble Words Game. These two types of games make a nice progression from memorizing some words to complete passage memorization.
15. Video Quiz
In the video quiz, you can import videos and insert questions throughout the video. This simple tool ensures that students understand what they are viewing and they have options to answer. If you watch this video, “How to Talk to Anyone with Ease and Confidence,” you can see how questions are inserted to assess learning and point out essential items in the video. This ensures not only that the video is watched but that students understand what they are learning. This might be a great option for some teachers who don't have access to other tools that provide this feature.
Tip #22: Try to Select Videos Without Pop Up Ads
Try to select videos that don't display annoying pop-up ads. Or, if you do, make sure students know how to remove the ads.
Tip #23: If You Want to Allow Retakes
If you allow a student to redo videos, this tool has a feature that other tools I've tested don't have; you can click on the question number and go straight to the questions. While this is not something I would show students immediately, it is a handy feature if a student needs to review a portion of the video. They can also more quickly redo the questions to improve their grade.
16. Word Search Puzzle
The Word Search Puzzle makes typical word search classroom games. I like that you can show words to aid in finding the words. I also like that it creates the words for you and gives you the option to display the grid's words.
Tip #24: Turn on “Show Words” in the Word Puzzle
I recommend allowing “show words” as an option to embed the word bank inside the puzzle.
Educaplay in Review
In conclusion, Educaplay is a versatile, easy-to-use site to make a variety of classroom games. It gives you many options for reviewing content that is quickly graded. Just remember that these can be formative and summative tools. Every time you have a grade, it doesn't mean you have to put the number in the grade book. Short riddles, word scrambles, crossword puzzles, and the other ideas in this post also add variety that fights boredom.
Tip #25: Power Up Your Formative Feedback
Remember to take the feedback from tools like these to inform your teaching and adjust. While the games do give some feedback, if I see patterns where students struggle, I adjust my teaching for the next day.
This, as well as the time savings of automatic grading, make Educaplay a must-use site for teachers to save time and add more interesting classroom games and activities for students.
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