Game #12 2020 Connect (Softgames)

Cost: Free

Platform: Web (Facebook instant game)

Genre: Puzzle

2017-06-27 (1)

2020 Connect

In this game, the object is to connect numbers that are the same so they can disappear. A full board is game over. This takes a lot of concentration. As determined by the Lumosity app, I’m not good at divided attention. I focus on one part of the board; in the meanwhile, the other part is filling up and I’m left with no moves. If there are enough coins in the left-hand corner, I can buy a booster which clears a spot. That happened once. The screen just kept filling up. I searched for cheats and figured out (too late) that the hexagons across the top are the next numbers. That would make a big difference in the decisions I make from now on. I saw the tiles there, but I didn’t really pay attention. I still didn’t know where the tiles were going, but if i needed a number I could try to move a tile to clear a space that the new ones would hopefully fill. I think I can move numbers that equal the sum of the other tiles that are together (I got that idea from a hack page) but I haven’t tried that strategy yet. This puzzle is like any other in that it makes you think about the right move. The decision-making factor makes me want to keep playing even after I’ve selected the button that says “Give Up”. I’ll be playing this game again. I don’t know how this could work for my class. I can see it working in math, though.



Game #11 Which One is the Real One?(Genera)

Screenshot_20170627-124435.pngCost: Free (ads, in-app purchases)

Genre: Trivia

This game gauges how much attention you pay to logos! Advertisements are all around us every day. Students could play this game and talk about how effective (or ineffective) some of these ads are.

When I played, there were some ads I’d never seen before. After I’d lost lives guessing, when the correct answer was left and popped up, I was still unaware of the logo.  To play and win, you must identify the logo or supply a missing piece. On the Wikipedia logo, for example, the omega symbol was missing. My first guess was that the letter i was missing. Getting it wrong made me slow down and look at the other symbols on the logo and guess that a letter of the Roman alphabet probably didn’t fit. Getting the answer right the second time allowed me to move on. I made it to level 4 and logo 34 in the five minutes of game play.

This game would be fun to assign for homework  or a speed round in class before a lesson on rhetoric. I like to start with advertisements because students can relate. It would be both fun and interesting to find out exactly how much attention my students pay to ads.  This stirs us another good discussion on details and persuasive techniques, which loosely correlates to Common Core writing standard 1.

Game #10 Mad Libs (Penguin Random House LLC)

Cost: Free (in-app purchases)

Genre: Entertainment

This is the game version of the popular book game, Mad Libs.  It was so much fun to play — although Mad Libs is an easy trigger for making me giddy. Mad Libs make me laugh because the stories are so silly. The point of the game app is the same — to create a story with random words. All of the words, of course, fall into one of the parts of speech. I think the game has educational value for that reason. Direct instruction of parts of speech can be boring, but this is a fun way to reinforce or to assess students’ knowledge of this concept.

After playing Mad Libs and  creating their own silly stories, students could write their own stories and ask classmates to fill in missing parts to practice creating a humorous tone. We could also discuss how certain word choices liven up a composition. This could extend into their own writing and study of sentences which connects to CCSS Lit.11-12.3 Knowledge of Language. 


Game #9 BattleText (Random Logic Games)

Cost: Free (in-app purchases), watch ad videos for extra auto-completes

Platform: App (Google Play Store and Apple Store)

Genre: Simulation

A student actually recommended this game. She loves words and knew I do, too. She also loves texting, and texting speed and vocabulary are the two things that make up the game. The object of the game is to type words that meet a certain requirement before your time runs out (like beginning with the letter k)  in order to reach a point goal (usually 100 or 75) .  If you can type your word correctly before the time runs out, you earn points. If you reach the target score before your opponent, you win that round. It sounds simple, but it can be tricky to think of the words you know. The level of challenge gets more difficult on hard mode, too. That’s the challenge I choose for myself.

I’ve been playing this game off and on since January when my student told me about it. With my juniors and seniors, I try to do vocabulary and root word activities to help them prepare for the SAT. Tatayana (my student) and I would compare which words we had used and found that the words we’d encountered in recent readings came in handy for earning extra points.

What I like about the game is the instant feedback that is offered. If you start to create a word that doesn’t exist, it turns red. You’re also racing the clock. You do have a chance to delete your letters and try again — you just have to do it before the time runs out. If the time runs out and you haven’t typed a word you do have the option to use an auto-complete if you have any. If you don’t, you get zero points and it’s your opponent’s turn again. Tatayana and I suspect some of the words the computer uses aren’t real words. The game goes too fast to stop and look them up though; it’s unlike Scrabble that lets you challenge your opponent’s word choice. The challenges involving the letters k and g I always lose. I really struggle with k words.

The way the game works does support the Common Core language standard for grades 11 and 12: vocabulary acquisition and use. Can students recognize the impact that changes in words make; for example, if you add -tion to a verb, what change in meaning occurs to the base word? Knowing to add suffixes and prefixes can help earn points in BattleText. Knowing this about words can expand a student’s vocabulary and comprehension of unfamiliar terms when reading or listening.



Game #8 SimCity (Electronic Arts)

Screenshot_2017-06-26-21-24-15.pngCost: Free (contains ads, in-app purchases)

Platform: Google Play Store

Genre: Simulation

About 10 years ago, I guess, a new English teacher came to our school. In her spare time, she’d play the Sims game. I’d never thought to see what the game was about, but with this assignment, thought it might be a good game to try. Plus, someone recommended it to me. That a version of the game still exists is interesting in itself.

I became the mayor of the city that I was to build. As the mayor, I was responsible for constructing a city that would thrive. The people needed to be happy and I had to make sure they were happy by building more residences, providing utilities like electricity and water and adding factories, roads and parks. The city I built was pretty sufficient, but I could visit the neighboring town to get supplies if I needed to. At night, my city slept and I had time to plan other additions to the city. If I hovered over my residences, I could read comments from my constituents. If they were feeling great about the city, my score would be high. Their approval and how much money you save and spend and how you can sustain your city are the goals of the game.

I think this game holds a great deal of educational value and could be used in any number of classroom settings. I immediately thought of how I have my students design their own utopia to compare to the setting of several of the texts we read in all levels of high school English. It’s a great lesson in learning what it takes to run a city, so may inspire interest in city planning or service learning projects. You’re part politician, part city planner, part surveyor, and some other occupations I can’t name (because I don’t know the names).  This would be a cool project and the dialogue that could take place between students as they justified their choices would be valuable.

(I tried to take a picture of my city, but my tablet would only let me do a screenshot of the opening page.)

Game #7 Scattegories (Magmic Inc)

Cost: Free

Platform: App (Google Store)

Genre: Trivia

Screenshot_20170623-172346 (1).pngFun!

This game is the app version of the fun board game Scattergories. The object of the game is to guess a word that begins with a particular letter in a particular category. In this version, you can pick a random opponent or if you sign up through Facebook you can play against someone you know.  It is timed. That’s the added challenge.

I like this game because it tests what you know in a fun way. I love games that test my vocabulary. I think this would be a good station game for students at the beginning or end of class or on those weird days half the class is pulled for testing or an assembly or meeting. I think this would be fun for my ESOL students. I think they’d feel pretty accomplished having thought of words in English with some help from their friends or on their own.

Game #6 Lumosity – Brain Training (Lumos Labs, Inc.)

Cost: Free

Platform: App from Google Play Store

Genre: Education


This “game” is a bit complicated. You first have to set up an email account or one through Facebook. Lumosity is a series of brain games. You take a fit test first. Part one challenged my information processing skills. It was timed. I had to determine if the new shape presented on the screen matched the previous shape (and color, too). Next was a challenged called Train of Thought. It tests divided attention. I did an awful job at directing trains to the same colored house. The tracks had to be adjusted each time a new train came out of the station. Obviously, I can’t do more than one thing at a time. The third challenge was something called Memory Matrix which, of course, tested my memory. It really challenged spacial recall (“visuospatial sketchpad, model for working memory that stores visual info: color, shape, location”). I didn’t do well I think.

After the test, you are prompted to select premium (priced) or basic daily workouts (free). There are several plans ranging from free to monthly to lifetime ($$$). I selected the free option and went on to something called Mindful Breathing. At our school, we practice mindfulness. So, I think a game like this would be helpful for the students who participate in that and actually will share this with Mindful Moments, our mindfulness partners. I think this game is also a good alternative to independent reading. I wouldn’t take independent reading away, but I’d offer this as an option.

Benefits: concentration, challenging yourself, individual game play

Game #5 Ballz (by Ketchapp)

Cost: Free

Platform: Google Play Store


This is, by far, my favorite game! I played it non-stop one evening and ended up going to sleep at 6 a.m. Score! Literally! This game is staying on my phone.

At first, I played for about 20 minutes straight. I didn’t understand what to do at first, but went online for cheats. That was all I needed. The object of the game is to collect balls without letting tiles meet the bottom of the screen; that ends your game.  You have to know a bit of physics. The best strategy is to get the balls you release to ricochet in order to hit more than one tile or ball or ring.

I can’t think of how this would align in my classroom, per se, but I do see how it could connect to strategy making and at the very least some fine motor skill coordination. It’s a single-player game. Your opponent is yourself.  After a week of playing I found directions (I wasn’t looking for them, but they appeared) for how to play the game, how to amass points and game currency.

I’d recommend this game for play during downtime. It’s not, in my opinion, educational at all, but it is fun and relaxing and definitely addictive.

1. Wordful-Word Search Mind Games


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Smart Up Inc

Rating: E (Everyone)Screenshot_2017-06-12-22-11-04.png

Cost: Free (with ads)

Platform: Android app

This is the first game I’ve played. I downloaded it on my tablet. I usually gravitate toward word games myself. I have a few student who might like this game because they like words like I do.

The premise of the game (as far as I can tell from playing it) is to let your eyes find the hidden words within the nine squares. I use my finger to swipe across the letters to actually form the words, which are between two and seven letters long. Each time I make a word, the letters move down and I form another word. After I make the two words, I move on to the next step in that level. The levels are named after international cities. I’ve been through Vienna (tutorial) Washington, D.C. and Hollywood. The letters get a little less easy to see as I go on.

This would be a good game for ESOL students perhaps. I could see them working in groups to find words they have learned in their ESOL class. If they work in teams at a station setting perhaps, they could discuss the words they know and help explain or show what they are to their team members.

I would use this game in a station setting because I cannot see how this would support direct instruction in my classroom. I do see how this game could support and reinforce word recognition and decoding skills.

Game #4 Hidden Objects Mansion (Hidden Objects Detective)

Cost: Free (contains ads)

Platform: Google Play Store

Genre: Puzzle

This version of the app has ads, so that’s annoying.  This game, however, is good for teaching students to really look for details.  In literature they are often hidden. Writers may hide a theme in a text, but use the details to give the reader a hint. This would be a good lesson engagement activity. As a writer or illustrator, the addition or omission of details can be an important lesson to learn. Some objects are hidden in plain sight because there are so many items in a room. Items to find come up as shadows and are difficult to find. I tried this on my phone and for me the screen was too small. It would probably be better on a tablet.

Overall, I liked playing this game. I probably wouldn’t play it again.  I think the game would be enjoyed by young children or older adults (my mother was interested in playing when she saw me playing it). I can’t see my high school students playing this game. There are levels and each find is timed. The pressure makes it fun. If you miss clues (like I did several times), you get to start over again.  If you have a decent memory, you remember where hidden items are and can do better the next time.Screenshot_20170623-171803.png