• 15 Jun
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    Making sure that students at every level are equally engaged and learning is a constant challenge.

    Trying to manage learners with a wide range of ability and learning styles and successfully keeping them at the edge of their knowledge sounds an impossible task – especially with rising class sizes.

    Educational games can be a fantastic resource in a tiered learning environment, without creating a great deal of extra work for an educator to implement (particularly in maths).

    Monster School Bus is a maths game by New Mexico State University’s Learning Games Lab, and can be found in our GameUp section. In the game players drive a school bus, navigating fantasy neighbourhoods and collecting students before dropping them off at school.

    Monster School Bus

    How does it work?

    What makes this game more than a dull sounding driving simulator is that the students you’re collecting are monsters. Each monster student takes up a different number of seats depending on what type of monster it is.

    To maximise their points players must fill the bus in the most efficient manner using sets of tens with the groups of monsters they have been allocated on their route. The aim is to make as few trips as possible.

    When players drive their bus in front of students they automatically get onto the bus. When the bus is full they’re presented with a “FULL LOAD!” alert and they then can pick up potions which ‘rock out’ nearby buildings by turning them into monster-themed buildings (this part is awesome fun BTW).

    Students are awarded stars based on how many full loads they successfully complete and how many buildings they rock out.

    What’s driving a school bus got to do with Maths?

    This is a game that teaches integers, orders of calculation, decimals, and commutative property.

    Students must not only group the given numbers in sets of ten they must decide on an appropriate route to pick up students so they only pick up the ones that they intend to.

    Monster School Bus Screenshot

    1. Students can easily replay levels in order to maximise their score giving them practice and consolidating their number sense.
    2. As students progress through the game the puzzles become increasingly complex (in manageable increments).
    3. Because there are several elements to complete in each level in order to achieve a perfect score students are kept at the edge of their learning.

    Give Monster Bus a try today and see how many buildings you can rock out!

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  • 03 Dec
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    In Coaster Creator by The JASON Project you must use your knowledge of potential and kinetic energy to create the most fun roller coaster you can.

    Coaster Creator on BrainPOP UK

    Coaster Creator encourages:

    • Problem solving
    • Logical thinking
    • A practical understanding of kinetic and potential energy
    • A basic understanding of how potential and kinetic energy interrelate
    • An appreciation of the usefulness of physics knowledge

    Students can experiment with different numbers of cars on their roller coaster, what their track looks like, and even what the coaster cars themselves look like! They can use trial and error to build their track and explore the different effects various decisions they make affect the safety of their ride and how fun it is.

    The game visualises the differences between kinetic and potential energy with a bar (see below) that uses colours to show what kind of energy is prevalent at each moment of the game.

    Coaster Creator energy visualisation bar

    At the end of the attempt the player is shown a chart showing a chart with their results. This help students develop an intuitive understanding of the complexity of kinetic and potential energy which they can then use to perfect their roller coasters – plus their understanding of the concept itself.

    As well as helping them to improve their scores the data provided also helps students learn to interpret and apply data for greater success.

    How does Coaster Creator work?

    1. Students are presented with a roller coaster that they can customise with various different animals and colours (we’re quite fond of the swift green shark).
    2. They choose the number of cars they wish to use from a minimum of one and a maximum of 8.
    3. Students then design their track by dragging the end point of the track to the angle required and adding either loops or hills to it by selecting the associated button.

    In the next section the player can see their roller coaster in action and see where it is successful and unsuccessful and why. The game also features a dynamic display of the equations used to calculate potential and kinetic energy so the player can see the differing values caused by the different parts of their track.

    Screenshot from GameUp's Coaster Creator

    The player can pause their coaster at any point during the test and can reset back to the beginning. At the end of the test the results screen is shown with a graph showing the energy in the system.

    Students can interact with the data by dragging the bar to see how their coaster’s speed changed over the course of the ride. On the final screen the game breaks down the player’s score (which can be printed). By hovering over the sections the game gives you a hint on how to improve that particular element.

    By clicking reset the player is taken back to the very beginning but their coaster design and track are preserved. The player can then change them (or completely start over) as they choose to try and improve their score.

    While there is no level system, players can make it harder or easier on themselves by setting targets at their own pace or by having challenges set by the teacher. For example, including a certain number of hills, a loop, or executing a perfect stop. This creates a high level of replayability and students can compete for the best score. The more they play and challenge themselves with increasing complexity the greater their grasp on the concepts will become.

    What makes it a good educational game?

    • Coaster Creator manages to visualise a difficult to grasp concept in a very interactive way which allows students to gain an intuitive understanding.
    • By challenging themselves and each other with increasingly exciting roller coasters students both practice more and understand better how they can apply this knowledge leading to a deeper understanding and greater knowledge retention.
    • Students can use the data presented within the game to improve their performance – this can also improve their ability to analyse, interpret and utilise data as well as see how it can be useful outside of the classroom.
    • The nature of the game encourages a trial and error approach promoting curiosity and mitigates the fear of failure.

    Using the game with a class – hints and tips

    • While this game can work really well as a front of class resource with the whole room contributing I prefer to set this particular task individually or in pairs initially. I find that kids find it easier to experiment while working alone or in small groups. I then have individuals show their best roller coaster to the class and explain why they chose to do what they did, what about it made it good, and what they would do to make it better.
    • I give kids a challenge sheet with this game. I make up a list of things to accomplish (such as a roller coaster with a loop) and give them a sticker for each one accomplished on this sheet. I order them by difficulty so kids who get the concept quickly are kept busy by more intimidating challenges. If they manage to finish them all quickly I have the kids who are finished work together to create new (but possible!) challenge ideas which they then have to try and complete.
    • Score board! I also have kids rate each other’s roller coasters as to how much they would like to ride on them as well as the score given in the game.


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  • 27 Nov
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    Meet some (very smiley!) pupils from the class of Sarah WrightY4 teacher in Merseyside.

    Mrs Wrights Class and BrainPOP

    As well as full time teaching Sarah is develops CPD for her local authority on using technology in learning, plus is on secondment at Edge Hill University running a module on ActivExpression for training teachers.


    Sarah’s school has been using BrainPOP UK for a few years to great effect. And even with the whirlwind that is her teaching life she found the time to write in and let us know the impact BrainPOP has had in her school and class.

    We’ve replicated it below with her kind permission.

    “I genuinely can’t speak highly enough of BrainPOP.

    It’s something I know I can use across the curriculum that is high quality, engaging and easy to use. The movies offer great learning opportunities for the children, not just in terms of academic content, but I personally feel that it helps with engagement, listening and concentration skills.

    We use it as a teacher led resource as well as allowing children to use it independently – we’ve found it is a great way to encourage independent learning, I often find children telling me about something that they “Brainpopped” last night!

    The characters are really attractive to our children and we often like using our inference skills to guess what Moby is thinking!

    Moby scratching his head

    We’ve seen a real difference in terms of how children engage with their learning and particularly in them wanting to explore and learn more.

    Since using BrainPOP the quality and quantity of home learning has vastly improved.

    BrainPOP comes with a whole host of resources, all of which we use. Obviously the movies are the main aspect, but we also use the resource packs of graphic organisers, the games are great quality and the quiz function is brilliant.

    BrainPOP on IWB and Promethean ActivTable

    Each movie also comes with related activities which foster a literacy aspect to activities which the children really enjoy. BrainPop doesn’t ‘sit’ at one level, so it’s great to have different styles and levels of movies that appeal to children across the school.

    We’ve even integrated BrainPOP badges into our class reward system, whereby children who show a great attitude to their learning can earn a badge . When visitors have asked them how they have earned them, they’ve offered impressively articulate ideas on their own learning through BrainPOP.

    Another massively important part of BrainPOP for me is the whole ethos and attitude of the team.

    Not only are they constantly on hand to help, encourage and genuinely inspire, they seem to be forever looking at ways to improve the BrainPOP experience, for instance with the introduction of the Game Up function.

    BrainPOP GameUp on Promethean ActivTable

    BrainPOP GameUp on Promethean ActivTable

    If I were to ask my children what their favourite resource to use would be, the answer would be unanimous.

    I personally don’t think there is anything better to encourage fun, substantial and real learning.”

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  • 06 Nov
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    We’ve added 3 new amazing learning games to GameUp UK! We’ll be doing more in-depth game guides soon but here’s a quick snap shot of each one.

    Quandary By Learning Games Network, in our English category

    Shape the future of a new society while learning how to recognise ethical issues and deal with challenging situations.

    Quandry on BrainPOP UK

    Refraction – By Center for Game Sciencein our Science category

    Learn fraction concepts while saving animals stuck in space. Teacher assessment portal (available soon!) shows each student’s understanding.

    Refraction on GameUp UK

    Ice Cream Truck – By Hooda Math®, in our Maths category

    Master budgets and cost management to try to turn a profit running your own ice cream van business!

    Ice Cream Truck on GameUp UK

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  • 23 Aug
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    In Guts and Bolts by BrainPOP from our GameUp UK section you must use problem solving skills and knowledge of body systems to help Moby construct a functional cyborg Tim.

    Guts and Bolts encourages:

    • Logical thinking
    • Problem solving
    • Understanding of biological processes
    • Understanding of how parts of the body interrelate
    • A basic understanding of the scientific method and experimentation

    Students can experiment with how different parts of the body work and interrelate. The player can drag organs on to the play area and connecting them by dragging pipes to carry the fluids from place to place. By doing this the player can then work out the functions of different parts as well as what they what they need to function.

    Each level increases in complexity, from level one showing the basic concept and controls all the way up to the final level where the player must create a system that incorporates a heart, lungs, brain, stomach, and intestines as well as veins and arteries.

    The increases in difficulty are enough to pose a challenge without being discouraging. Some kids playing this game at school have even refused to go home until they finish it!

    How does Guts and Bolts work?

    On each level you must build a working system using the parts given to you in that level. Some levels you must build a circulatory system or a respiratory system, in others you must build them both and hook them together! Each level builds on the previous one so the user must be constantly building on their knowledge to achieve the goal. For example, in the previous two levels you may have learned about the heart and the lungs, in the next level you must then combine that knowledge and make a system with the lungs and heart.

    The controls work by clicking and dragging and are compatible with interactive whiteboards. If the player can’t get the system to work and wants to start over they can easily clear the play area by clicking the “clear pipes” button and start from scratch.

    If the player is finding the levels too easy then they can choose a harder level from the list and navigate straight to it. Equally, if a level is too hard the player can go back to the menu and refresh their memory on earlier levels., alternatively players can refresh their memory on various body systems by watching the BrainPOP UK movies below the game without worrying about losing their place.

    Screenshot of Guts and Bolts



    Rewarding progress

    At the beginning of the game the player can watch a short movie showing Moby’s goal to create a cyborg Tim. At the end of the game, if the player has completed the final level they are rewarded with a funny ending movie where they can see the fruits of their labour. I will say no more to prevent spoiling it for you!

    What makes it a good educational game?

    • This game is great to use as a front of class resource – it’s visually very interesting and the concept and logical processes behind the game are very appealing.
    • By working out by themselves what particular body parts need and how they interrelate they more easily remember the concepts.
    • The slow increments in difficulty keep this interesting but not overwhelming for the player.

    Using the game with a class – hints and tips

    • The solutions to the levels in this game can perplex initially but kids often get the concept very quickly. Fight the urge to explain and instead let them have a few goes until they get a feel for it. If they master it independently it will boost their confidence. The player can also use the BrainPOP movies at the bottom to remind themselves how different body parts and systems work.
    • Leading questions such as “What does the stomach do?” and “What does the brain need?” also a help a lot to help them grasp it without too much interference.
    • This game is great to use as a front of class resource. Maybe get the whole class working together to solve the puzzles or have them take turns. One teacher told me some of her students taught the rest of the class how to play from the front of the class and they grasped it very quickly this way. (It was also good for the shy student!)

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  • 17 Jul
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    In Dublox by Hooda Math from our GameUp UK section you must use your spatial and transformation skills to flip the Dublox across a variety of terrains.

    Dublox encourages:

    • Logical thinking
    • Problem solving
    • Spatial awareness
    • Transformation skills

    Students can experiment with rotation and reflection by directing Dublox (the yellow block) across the floating terrain to the goal. The trick is Dublox can only move a certain number of tiles at a time, in only 4 directions. One false move and…over the edge you go!

    As the game increases in difficulty the student gains over time a strong sense of spatial awareness and the effects of rotation and reflection on the object.

    It’s also HUGE fun. We bet you send Dublox hurtling off the edge at least as often as you reach the target 🙂

    How does Dublox work?

    You must guide the Dublox, a small and surprisingly athletic block, across the board to the goal without falling off.

    The player must manoeuvre the block to the correct area and position by flipping the block into the right space using the arrow keys on their keyboard. If the block goes outside the board then the block vanishes and the level must be started again. Each level is different and requires the student to approach the puzzle in a slightly different way.

    The game tracks how many steps have been taken in the game, and how many steps have been taken in the level and displays it in the bottom right of the screen.

    Dublox game screenshot

    Rewarding progress

    The player earns bronze, silver, or gold medals based on their performance in the level. The player can also unlock achievements such as “Tasting” for completing the first 7 levels or “Brainy” for unlocking all of the bronze medals.

    The player can restart levels if they get stuck or just roll their Dublox off the ledge to start again. Although the steps used is kept in the player’s total it doesn’t affect their ability to earn medals on individual attempts. The game remembers where you left off so the player won’t lose their place if they stop playing.

    What makes it a good educational game?

    • The game allows students to explore transformation and rotation and apply it to problems giving them a deeper understanding of the topic.
    • The game is replayable and students can compete against each other and themselves to get the medals and least amount of steps.
    • The game encourages experimentation and the player loses nothing by failing. As students can work out themselves what works and what doesn’t they get a firmer grasp of the principles and uses of the concepts.
    • For any students getting frustrated they can watch the related BrainPOP movies under the game without having to navigate away from the game or losing their place.
    • Like all the GameUp games, Dublox has a dedicated quiz that you can use to check students’ comprehension before or after the game.
    • The game works really well used as a class resource on an interactive whiteboard or equally can be used individually or as homework.

    Using the game with a class – hints and tips

    • The controls in this game can perplex initially but kids often get the concept very quickly. Fight the urge to explain and instead let them have a few goes until they get a feel for it. If they master it independently it will boost their confidence.
    • This game is great to use as a front of class resource. Maybe get the whole class working together to solve the puzzles or split them into two competing teams. I pick a student from each team to have a certain number of goes at the controls before it passes to the next student/team (I usually accompany then until they win or up to three attempts). I encourage team members to discuss tactics and work together to solve the problems.
    • I find it useful to discuss with students how transformation and reflection can be useful in day to day life and encourage them to think of examples.

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  • 25 Jun
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    In this lesson idea, adaptable for KS2 year groups, pupils explore electricity, electric circuits, conductivity, and basic computer peripherals.

    Pupils will learn the basics of electric circuits using a BrainPOP UK topic and explore conduction by experimenting with connecting different materials to a MaKey MaKey.


    A MaKey Makey is a relatively inexpensive kit that allows you turn everyday objects into touchpads. It allows you to use anything with at least a small amount of conductivity connected to the MaKey MaKey to do things like press the space bar or control a computer mouse. You can even use it to make a piano out of bananas!

    Pupils will:

    1. Gain a basic understanding of electric circuits and the components they need to work.
    2. Explore aspects of the scientific method through experimenting with different materials.
    3. Gain a basic understanding of conduction.
    4. Practice evaluating different materials and how they can be used.


    • Computer with internet access
    • BrainPOP UK access
    • Interactive whiteboard (or projector)
    • Selection of objects e.g. fruit, toys, leaves, playdoh etc. – a good range of items made of different materials that do and do not conduct are good
    • MaKey MaKey


    Conduction, electricity, materials, circuit, computer, insulator 


    Play around with the MaKey MaKey to make sure you are comfortable using it and setting it up, as well as getting an idea of the various kinds of things that work with it.

    A good place to get more information on how they work/how to use it is their official website: www.MaKeyMaKey.com. You can find all the support you’ll need at http://www.makeymakey.com/howto.php

    Watch through the Electric Circuits BrainPOP UK movie and note where you would like to use pause points to check understanding or expand any points illustrated in the movie.

    BrainPOP UK Electric Circuits

    Choose a Game Up game for the pupils to use their built circuit with – I like using Simple Machines or Dublox, but it is a good opportunity to pick something relevant to topics being covered in lessons.

    I like to prepare a “game pad” (see image below for an example) using a sheet of A4 paper with pencil graphite connecting the MaKey MaKey to playdoh buttons. This keeps the wires out of the way and makes a very easy to use controller. It’s also a great talking point for showing how circuit boards, like the MaKey MaKey, work.

    Makey Makey controller

    Lesson Procedure:

    1. Play the BrainPOP UK Electric Circuits movie on the interactive whiteboard. Pause the movie at predetermined points to ask pupil’s questions to check comprehension and engagement. If you wish to you could also use the quiz to check understanding.
    2. Talk about the concepts in the movie and discuss conductivity with leading questions such as – “What are wires made of? Why? What other things might be good to use as wires?”
    3. Have pupils look at the assembled objects and talk about what they are, what they’re made of, and what they’re usually for. Have pupils think about what objects would be a conductor and why they think so.
    4. Have pupils sort the objects into yes, no, and maybe piles based on whether they think the object will conduct.
    5. Hook up various objects they’ve picked from each pile to the MaKey MaKey and show them whether it works or not. If they were incorrect ask them why they think they were wrong and if it’s made them change their mind about anything in the other piles.
    6. One activity I like to do is to have all the pupils stand and hold hands and use them to close the circuit on the MaKey MaKey – this is a great opportunity to explain safety when it comes to electricity as it shows them that they are also conductive and why it’s important to insulate things like wires.
    7. Give the pupils opportunity to choose what objects to use as controls and try it out with the game and evaluate whether they could make it better to use.
    8. If you have prepared one a playdoh controller can be used here with pupils taking it in turns to use it to play the game. Have them critique the game pad and whether they think it’s any good. “What would you do better?” 

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  • 30 May
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    In Simple Machines by the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago from our GameUp UK section you must use found objects to build simple machines to help a small robot to find the parts he needs.

    This game encourages logical thinking, experimentation, and an understanding of forces and simple machines such as inclined planes and pulleys. Students can experiment with different objects and identify the causes and effects of their choices, and work out the most efficient ways to get the parts they need.

    How does Simple Machines work?

    You must guide Twitch a cute (and lazy!) robot to the parts he needs to gather. The parts are out of Twitch’s reach and you must choose an item to help you achieve your goal from a selection of found objects. Each level has a different kind of simple machine concept to employ to achieve the goal including:

    • Inclined planes
    • Levers
    • Wheel and Axle
    • Pulleys

    Simple Machines game screenshot

    What do you have to do?

    There are robot parts scattered across the museum that Twitch needs to find. But Twitch is small and not very strong so how can he get past obstacles and get to parts out of his reach? By building simple machines with bits and pieces he finds laying around the museum of course!

    The game shows the player the target and shows any controls needed to control Twitch. The player is then given options on what items to use to get access to the target. In the example below you can see that Twitch needs to to create an inclined plane to the part on top of the radio and has the option of a model of the Tower of Pisa, a pencil, half a sandwich, or a triangular wooden block to make one with.

    Inclined planes in Simple Machines game

    The player must choose an item then use the controls to get Twitch to the part. If he runs out of available force in the bar at the bottom he fails the level and must try again. Each level showcases a different type of simple machine the student must master, and at the end of each level the game briefly explains about the type of simple machine and a real life example of one.

    The game lets students know how much force Twitch is expending. When they don’t manage to achieve the goal they can try as many times as they like allowing them to experiment and see all the various outcomes from the options given.

    This game is very flexible and can be used individually, in groups, or as a front-of-class resource. Similarly a level could be set for homework. At the end of the game on the win-screen (shown below) students can see how much force they’ve used on each level and compare it with their peers or try to beat their own scores.

    Simple Machines win screen

    What makes it a good educational game?

    • The game reinforces the idea that mistakes and experimentation isn’t a bad thing. Students can explore all of the possibilities and outcomes without worrying about losing points or “being wrong”. This helps them grasp the concepts behind the simple machines shown much more thoroughly.
    • The game is replayable as students can compete against themselves and each other to find the best solutions to problems and compete to spend the least amount of force on tasks. Completed levels are easily chosen again in the same session so a student could chose to play a level as many times as they like.
    • As students can see what works, what doesn’t, and works the most efficiently they can get a firmer grasp of the principles, uses, and limitations of the simple machines explored.
    • For any students getting frustrated they can watch the related BrainPOP movies under the game without having to navigate away from the game or losing their place.
    • Like all the games, Simple Machines has a dedicated quiz that you can use to check students’ comprehension before or after the game.
    • We might as well face it, Twitch is painfully adorable and we love to see him reach his goal (and snack on berries on the load screen).

    Using the game with a class  hints and tips

    • Experimenting is great and the best way for kids to get a handle on this game and the concepts involved. When I play this game with students I prefer to let them lead and occasionally ask them questions about what they’re doing and their choices. They often reveal they know more than they think they do!
    • You could make a chart and have students submit their high scores to have them compete against each other for the most efficient use of Twitch’s force.
    • This is a really nice game to play as a class with a student at the front of the class controlling Twitch on an interactive whiteboard while the rest of the class votes on what they should do to win.
    • You could have students recreate problems and levels with bits of arts and crafts materials in the classroom or even make levels of their own that their classmates have to complete. If you have some real computer whizzes you could even let them give it a try in Scratch.

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  • 20 Mar
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    Battleship Numberline by Numbaland from our GameUp UK section takes a simple concept like a numberline and gameifies it by adding in elements from, you guessed it… the game of Battleship.

    This game encourages students to develop a strong and robust number sense and an understanding of how different numbers relate to one another.

    How does Battleship Numberline work?

    You start by choosing which maths concept you want to explore. There are 4 different sections to choose from. Each determines what the numberline uses as its measurement.

    • Fractions
    • Whole numbers
    • Decimals
    • Mixed bag (a combination of all of them).
    Battleship Numberline screenshot


    What do you have to do?

    There is a battleship hidden somewhere along the number line that they need to destroy, but they’re invisible – so how can you target them?

    The game tells you where ships have been spotted expressed as a whole number, decimal, or fraction – depending on which option you choose. Then students have to carefully aim on the number line where they think that location is before the timer runs out.

    Battleship Numberline - a maths game on Game Up

    The game gives constant feedback to the student. They will know immediately whether they are right or wrong; this prevents them making the same mistake repeatedly and learning an incorrect method which they then have to unlearn.

    This game is very flexible and can be used front of classroom or individually, or as homework to reinforce maths concepts.

    What makes it a good educational game?

    • You can choose how to align the game to the level of your students by choosing between 5 levels: Very Easy; Easy; Medium; Hard; and Very Hard on each game section. This allows you to have more able students working on the harder levels while any struggling students can work on the lower levels to build their understanding and confidence.
    • Students can compete against the game, themselves, and each other by collecting stars, increasing their average accuracy, and going up levels. Instead of kids being bored they’ll be clamouring to play and improve their scores.
    • It’s a great way of dealing with common misconceptions that kids have about decimals and fractions – like that numbers with more decimal places must be “bigger” numbers.
    • For any students getting frustrated they can watch the related BrainPOP movies under the game without having to navigate away from the game or losing their place.
    • Like all the games, Battleship Numberline has a dedicated quiz that you can use to check students comprehension before or after the game.

    Using the game with a class – hints and tips

    • When I play this game with a class that haven’t seen it before, I like to start with the whole numbers section to get them comfortable with the game mechanic. Then, when I’m sure they understand I propose making it a little harder – which usually gets some excitement!
    • I particularly like using this game on an interactive whiteboard; I split the class into two teams and pick 2 or 3 students from each team to come to the front and take turns solving the levels. After a couple of rounds I will send students back to their seats and pick others from their team to take their place at the front to ensure everybody gets a turn.
    • Often a class will have a student keen to takeover or answer all the questions. If I am sure they understand the concept and they’ve had a go I make them the “official scorekeeper” and put them in charge of keeping  track of how many stars each team has won. It keeps them engaged and busy while giving other students a chance to take part without the enthusiastic student feeling ignored or passed over.

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  • 11 Mar
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    We think www.scratchyournose.com is a terrific idea – creating Scratch based Red Nose Day games!

    Scratch Your Nose logo

    Their plan is “…to create an awesome day in support for Red Nose Day through a National Games Jam with students, teachers and industry from everywhere creating and sharing games in Scratch. What is a game jam? It’s a short period of time where groups of people get together and make games!​”

    You can download lots of support from their website, including posters, Scratch assets and Idea Generators. Students at Highfields School, Wolverhampton, will be live streaming out support activities during the day too. It’s an fun way to learn to code (or flex existing coding muscles) and give to Comic Relief.

    And can someone actually create a proper funny game? We hope so 🙂

    Good luck everyone!

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