Category: Blog

Top 5 Moments from the Bethesda STEM Night

Last week, we had the honor of participating in the STEM Night at Bethesda Elementary School, right up the street from our studio. STEM education has increasingly become a focus for policy makers, administrators and teachers in recent years, including the national effort to encourage minorities and girls to enter STEM fields. There is increasing demand for STEM professionals, but few of our kids are following that path. The Department of Education reports that only 16% of high school seniors are capable and interested in a STEM career.

At Bethesda Elementary School, surrounded by tri-folds showcasing experiments and projects in STEM-related fields, there was no shortage of kid genius. Two of our team members, Dayle and Steve, had the opportunity to wander the floor, speak to parents and educators, and most importantly—interact with the kids who were playing our games.


We set up a table with two iPads and one computer monitor, ready to show our stuff. Steve headed to mingle, and Dayle stayed behind to facilitate the games. By the time the night had ended, they both had some favorite moments to share.

1.          Student: “You make video games?”

Me: “Yep! We have some games set up in the cafeteria!”

Student: “Later, Dad!”

Steve was in the gym talking to folks as they entered when he ran into a student who read his Dig-It! Games™ shirt and recognized the logo. After checking with Steve to make sure there were games within reach, he scampered off to play, leaving his dad in the dust. Kids maintained their high-energy, eager to play throughout the evening, which led to a moment like this next favorite.

2.         A child was playing MayaNumbers™ at our table, when his father came by to tell him it was time to head out. The student’s response? “Just one more number, Dad?” The dad’s answer was unfortunately a no, and while his child begged and pleaded for a few more numbers of our game, the father eventually had to physically pick up his son and carry him away. Dayle and Steve can still hear the son whining, “Just one more number, Dad, please!”


3.         The bake sale at Bethesda Elementary School was crowded the entire time. Eventually, Steve wandered over and what he found was delicious enough not only to merit a tweet, but to merit a favorite moment. He scoped out the trays and found a very pretty cupcake with sprinkles. The parents who organized the bake sale were raising money for the school and were very grateful for every purchase and donation. At the end of the night, they had some leftover baked goods, and Dayle and Steve were lucky enough to be approached not once, not twice, but three times with leftover cookies, brownies and Rice Krispies treats. To echo Steve’s sentiments: YUM!

4.       Throughout the evening, Dayle and Steve kept hearing from parents and students:

  •              “OMG, we’ve been waiting!”
  •              “We’ve heard so much about you!”
  •              “We want to play your games.”
  •              “We can’t believe you guys are just a block away from here.”

The principal was interested in how the school could be involved, how we could work together, and so were we! It was wonderful to see how excited everyone was to play our games and to learn about us as a company.


5.        One mother kept reaching over her daughter’s shoulder to try to play MayaNumbers. Eventually, Dayle reached out to her with an extra iPad—and with just a little bit of hesitation—she began to play with the same joy her daughter shared. The truth is, our games are fun for all ages. Dayle and Steve even met a first-grader who grasped MayaNumbers without any issue at all, taking his time and playing the “slow” way. One child was completely absorbed in the game and received 82,000 points—the high for the night. The team has been working on an update for MayaNumbers, and we’re excited to share a little bit of that with you. The updated app will include three different levels of difficulty for students:

  •            Numbers 1-19
  •            Numbers 20-399
  •            Numbers 400-150,000

Each of the levels will have a different number of glyphs for transcribing the Arabic number system into the Maya number system. This will make the game accessible for all ages—from first and second graders to adults.

There was one final moment—a bonus favorite to share with you.

6.         A couple of parents were talking with Steve. It turned out, they both had P.H.Ds in archaeology. Their daughter, eight-years-old, is math-obsessed and loves our games. The pair were interested in helping us design future games, but right now, they’re looking forward to the Roman Town™ update…coming your way soon.


Q&A with Paul Reynolds, CEO of FableVision, Inc.

When you think of fun and educational, what comes to mind? We conjure up things like games (of course!), stories, animation, museums and more. We also can’t help but think of our friends at FableVision Studios who have been some of the best partners in the industry. In fact, we had the pleasure of working directly with the one and only Paul Reynolds, CEO, in the making of Mayan Mysteries™. We took some time to talk with Paul about what inspires him, what book he’s ready to open, and much more!

paul reynolds

Paul Reynolds, CEO of FableVision, Inc.


Can you tell us a bit about FableVision and its mission?

FableVision is an educational media development studio located on the top floor of the Boston Children’s Museum in Boston’s Innovation District. We’re on a 200-year mission to collaborate on, create, and share positive storytelling, media, and technology to help move the world to a better place. Right out of the gate, our company tagline was “Stories That Matter, Stories That Move,” and we haven’t wavered from that focus.

FableVision was founded in 1996 by my business partner, the amazingly creative Gary Goldberger, along with my identical twin brother Peter H. Reynolds who is now also known around the world as a creativity champion and best-selling author/illustrator of storybooks for all ages including The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, The North Star, and dozens of other titles. So storytelling is and has always been one of the critical tools in our media toolbox.

Today, FableVision is proud to have an award-winning team of animators, coders, writers, developers, designers, and producers who create a wide range of media – including online games, mobile apps, animated films, interactives, websites, and media-rich software applications.

Our creative partners include publishers, museums, nonprofits, and broadcasters – including best-in-class organizations such as PBS Kids, Jim Henson Company, Classroom, Inc., Scholastic, Lulu Jr., McGraw-Hill, Smithsonian, National Geographic Society, and Dig-It! Games, of course.

FableVision Logo

What do you enjoy most about working in the educational space?

What could be better than dedicating one’s life to helping foster creative human potential? We love collaborating with other kindred spirits who understand the power of media, gaming, storytelling, and constructionist uses of technology. We have a great network of fellow developers, researchers, and creative educators who are helping usher in one of the most exciting moments in the history of human learning – accelerated by global connectivity that is helping transfer innovation across the learning network like wildfire.

Who or what are your biggest influences?      

There are many who have inspired our practice. FableVision’s approach has been informed by the following fellow visionaries:

-Ellen Langer’s mindful learning approach (establish personal relevance and meaning to engage learners, not mindless memorization).

-Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Constructivism (constructing mental models to learn).

-Seymour Papert’s Social Constructionism (socially co-constructing real projects to make the cognitive tangible).

-Chuck Dwyer’s concept of “learning as self-design” (if we can imagine our future, more actualized selves, how can we design ourselves to realize that vision).

-James Paul Gee’s work around the “regime of competency” in gaming and learning (the notion that effective gaming can throttle an experience between too easy/boring and too hard/time to give up – and keeps the learner fully engaged until they reach each level of mastery with no “game over” penalty) and advance to the next level when they are ready.

-Jean Piaget’s quote “Play is the work of children.” Playful learning or “hard fun” is how we are wired as human beings to understand the world from our earliest years. When we stop taking the play out of learning, we’ve not only robbed the joy from education, but tripped up one of our innate mechanisms for making sense of our world.

-Jerome Bruner’s theories about self-concept and learning (human beings live into stories and experience transference and personal transformation).

Peter and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bruner at his home in New York City. At 99, he’s still going strong. It was such an honor to meet a kindred spirit who understands the power of narrative and storytelling to aid in self-design and learning.

He told us, “I’ve spent my lifetime explaining why storytelling matters in the process of who we might become – now your job is to take it to the school house.”

We gladly carry that torch forward.

featured-img-2FableVision Studios partnered with Dig-It! Games™ to create multiple games, including the award-winning Mayan Mysteries™. Can you tell us what aspects of these games you feel have the biggest impact in the classroom?

Social studies has been sidelined by a recent obsession with science and math. While STEM is definitely a critical area for studies and careers, there just hasn’t been the same investment in learning resources required to raise thoughtful global citizens in the 21st century on a planet that needs cooperation and collaboration for its survival.

Dig-It! Games™ provides an exciting new doorway into social studies that leverages game theory and design to get learners engaged in personally transformational ways. Teachers can leverage a student’s personal connection to the material – which includes math, science, and language arts, so there is a richness in the learning experience that goes far beyond standard lecture and reading that can easily dispirit learners.

It’s National Reading Month! What’s on your coffee table or night stand at home?

I have a book on my bedside that I have to start reading called Strong Boy by Chris Klein. The biographical novel is part of a town-wide read we’re doing in my hometown of Dedham, just outside Boston. It’s the story of Boston’s own James L. Sullivan, the first modern heavyweight boxing champion in the late 1880s, who also instantly became the first celebrity sports figure to earn over a million dollars. It’ll make a great movie someday – which must include the 75-round bout against fellow Irish-American Jake Kilrain.

What advice would you give to a young student who is interested in getting involved with digital game development?      

Get your hands on kid-friendly programming software like Scratch from MIT Media Lab. My son, Ben, cut his teeth on game coding with this free, online programming language when he was in middle school to create his own interactive stories, games, and animations.

There is now a new version of Scratch called Scratch, Jr. which children ages 5-7 can use to learn the concept of coding as they bring to life their own creations on the computer. It’s great to start them thinking this way early on. As we always told our boys, “It’s fine to play games, but even cooler if you make them yourself!”

What are your top three tips for teachers looking to bring games into the classroom?

First, network with colleagues to find games that have been successful in the classroom and share best practices around applications. There are apps such as Lure of the Labyrinth online math game, which FableVision produced with Learning Games Network for Maryland Public Television. It was co-designed with teachers for the classroom – with years of use and success. Definitely worth checking out.

Second, if possible, play WITH your students – let them see that you are as immersed in the experience as they are. It shouldn’t feel like an assignment – but more like group play that provides for the best kind of organic distributed learning.

Third, ask your students for recommendations and feedback. Giving them agency in scouring potential learning games helps build their digital literacy skills. That creative prompt will help them develop into mindful gamers.

Digital Learning Day Q&A with Suzi, founder of Dig-It! Games™ (from FableVision Studios)

Archaeologist, Social Studies teacher and video game designer – Suzi Wilczynski has done it all. With an arsenal of learning games, from the FableVision Studios-developed Mayan Mysteries™ to the soon-to-be launched Roman Town™, Suzi’s studio Dig-It! Games™ has a plethora of digital learning resources for students. FableVision recently talked with Suzi about Digital Learning Day and the important role games play in the classroom.

Suzi Cropped Headshot

What is Digital Learning Day and why is it important?

Digital Learning Day is a wonderful concept that the Alliance for Excellent Education brought to life back in 2012. It’s a day dedicated to celebrating innovative teaching practices nationwide that leverage instructional technology programs to improve student outcomes. Since it launched as a grassroots campaign, it has truly grown into a national celebration that is driving awareness and recognition of how technology enhances the learning experience in K-12 schools. I think the Alliance says it best when referring to Digital Learning Day as “not about technology, [but] about learning.”

Can you share a bit about the history of Dig-It! Games?

In 2005, I began my quest to create fun, interactive learning experiences for middle school students. As an educator and trained archaeologist, I had used archaeology to bring history to life while calling upon a wide range of skills, including math, science, and language arts. To make these subjects relevant to 21st century kids, I set out to create entertaining, interactive digital games that could be played at school or at home. My goal was to use games to engage children in an immersive way that goes beyond what they can experience from a textbook, film, or lecture. After learning everything I could about game design and playing more games than I care to admit, I released Roman Town™ in January 2010 to critical acclaim from parents, educators, and the education industry. In 2012, Dig-It! Games™ partnered with FableVision Studios to produce Mayan Mysteries™, an award-winning puzzle-based adventure game about the ancient Maya. 2013 was all about math at Dig-It! Games™, with the releases of math-based games Loot Pursuit: Tulum™, MayaNumbers™, and Can U Dig It!™ In 2014, we released a continuation of the Mayan Mysteries™ story, a sequel to the Loot Pursuit™ series in Pompeii, and mini-games, including Artifact Snatch™ and Maya Quiz™. We’re so excited for what 2015 has in store. We just released our redesigned app for Roman Town™ and are looking forward to adding to our catalog of fun learning games for middle schoolers!

Suzi Archaeologist

You have a wealth of background experience to pull from in the work you do now. We hear you like to play in the dirt. What was your experience as an archaeologist like?

One of the things I liked most about fieldwork was the opportunity to be in another country for an extended period of time. I loved getting the chance to actually experience the culture in a way you really can’t when you’re just visiting for a few days. I do have to admit though, I liked the dirt a lot too! I’m one of those weird people that actually likes studying dirt layers. Finding cool artifacts is fun, of course, but it’s the dirt that really tells the story. Archaeology is all about every day life—artifacts tell us what people ate, what they wore, and how they spent their time. But it’s the dirt that tells us when and how people used those things. Archaeology is pretty hard work—all that dirt is HEAVY!—but it was all worth it to see first hand how people lived in the past.

How did your past experience as a social studies teacher help you in the transition to game designer?

It does seem like teacher and game designer are really different, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, they’re not. A big part of games, especially the kind we make, is teaching something. Even games that aren’t strictly for learning have to teach players how to operate in their world. The fancy word for it is “user interface,” but really, it’s not so different from planning lessons that will engage your students. The goal with both is to communicate information quickly and easily in a form that resonates with your audience. Then you have to figure out how to seamlessly build on that knowledge through the course of a game, kind of like planning a class. Levels are very comparable to units in that knowledge of a specific feature set builds slowly through the level and completing the level shows mastery the way an end of unit test does. Even grading has a place in game design: when you really think about it, grading a test and scoring a level are virtually the same thing—they communicate the level of mastery for the content. Good games, like good lessons, require deep understanding not only of the game content but how the user will respond to it. In that, game designers do have an advantage over teachers. Feedback in games is immediate and leveling up requires full mastery of the content. That allows game designers to communicate directly with the player and know instantly when a feature does its job successfully.

Do you have any advice for teachers looking to implement more digital games in the classroom?

Teachers have always known that games add depth to lessons by engaging students’ imaginations and allowing them to find answers on their own and in their own way. Games on mobile devices, computers, and interactive whiteboards combine graphics, audio, and movement into a coherent whole. These games are interactive and immersive, forcing the player to be truly invested in the outcome. Players are encouraged to strengthen weaker skills while simultaneously taking advantage of their proficiencies. For teachers looking to add digital games in the classroom, there are a few common denominators found in successful interactive learning games, such as being authentic and skills-based. Teachers should consider how different games can be woven into the curriculum based on content. For example, reinforcement games can be played just after students have begun to master new skills. Most importantly—teachers should show their students that they’re excited about adding games into the classroom; when teachers are excited, students are too. Just like playing digital games, enjoy blending fun and learning in the classroom with the addition of these tools to your curriculum!

FableVision Studios partnered with Dig-It! Games™ to create multiple games, including the award-winning Mayan Mysteries™. Tell us a bit about the game and how it applies to digital-game-based learning?

Mayan Mysteries™ is an exciting educational adventure that turns middle school students into real archaeologists as they explore the mysterious world of the ancient Maya and learn about their remarkable civilization. In the one-of-a-kind puzzle-based online game, players embark on a thrilling expedition with “Team Q” to catch a secretive thief. Play involves visiting excavation sites, identifying and carving dates into the Maya calendar, using real archaeological tools such as trowels, picks, and brushes to uncover authentic artifacts, finding hidden objects, creating maps, using the Maya number system, and more. Mayan Mysteries™ is true game-based learning: it is standards-based, cross-curricular, purpose-aligned, interactive, age-appropriate, and fun. It can be played at home or at school, and is ideal for interactive learning in the classroom. Its authentic content, contributed by a world-renowned Maya expert, aligns to multiple National Standards, including: National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies and Common Core Standards for Language Arts and Mathematics. Players are immersed in a long-term gaming experience that sparks imagination, excites young minds, and teaches new ideas. It motivates and encourages independent and critical thinking for all learning styles, which are critical components of digital-game-based learning. I’m very proud that Mayan Mysteries™ has consistently ranked among the top downloads on iTunes. Players around the world are downloading the game that engages kids and brings history to life.

Dig-It! Games™ produced their first game, Roman Town™, five years ago. Now you’re releasing an updated Roman Town™ for the iPad. What can you tell us about the game and how it’s changed?

We are very excited to celebrate the five-year anniversary of Roman Town™ with a brand new version of the interactive game. The original Roman Town™ was created in a CD-ROM format, which met the needs of students and teachers when it launched back in 2010. What kids want and need from educational games has changed dramatically since we first introduced Roman Town™ almost five years ago. Today, Roman Town™ is an intuitive social studies-based problem-solving app for the iPad. The game engages and inspires students as it teaches them about the ancient civilization through interactions with characters, exploration of the ruins, and artifacts woven into its mini-games. Players explore Pompeii, play ancient games, and help Charlie and Fiona (the popular characters from Dig-It! Games™’ series of top-rated games) find clues to track down the infamous Ladrone. The new Roman Town™ includes even more challenging puzzles to exercise strategic thinking, spatial reasoning, memory, logic, and math skills, among others. The factual information about Roman life has been expanded and new graphics create a truly immersive experience. Most importantly, today’s Roman Town™ is even more fun than the original!

Suzi Wilczynski launched Dig-It! Games™ in 2005. Wilczynski is a trained archaeologist with nearly 10 years of dig experience, including projects in Greece and Israel. Formerly a middle-school teacher, Wilczynski noticed a lack of classroom options for teaching students about the fundamentals and importance of archaeology. She developed a continuously expanding suite of learning games including Mayan Mysteries™ and Roman Town™ to give classroom instructors and parents fun, interactive tools to help students learn about the ancient civilizations through archaeology.

Five words that describe Dig-It! Games™:

Fun – When kids and adults play our games, they can’t help but be entertained!

Educational – Our games incorporate age-appropriate content in math, science, social studies, and language arts into interactive learning experiences. Authentic and accurate information that conforms to curriculum mandates and Standards of Learning is built into every game we produce.

Engaging – Dig-It! Games™ engages different learning styles and allow learners to proceed at their own pace and explore topics that are meaningful to them.

Cultural – Our games are tools that allow kids to explore cultures, expand their knowledge, and discover a love of learning.

Inspirational – Through our seamless blend of fun and learning, we seek to foster the joy of intellectual discovery and inspire kids to think differently about learning.

(This blog post was originally featured on FableVision Studios’ blog on 3/13/15)

Spreading the #GBL Love

love teachers

Today is the day before Valentine ’s Day. Do you remember what it looked like to celebrate Valentine’s day when you were in school? Picture the scene: each desk adorned with a paper bag, decorated with bright red and pink foam stickers, filled to the brim with candies and paper Valentine’s with cutesy messages—You Rock, Valentine! You’re Sweet, Friend!—and the laughter of children in the air. At a larger desk in the corner sits an exhausted, but pleased teacher with a mound of Valentines of her own.

You may not know this, but she was up until midnight writing personal I’m proud of you notes to every student in her classroom. She lugged two big plastic shopping bags of stickers, decorations, snacks, and extra Valentines (just in case) into the room that morning—all of which she purchased on her own.

Right now, the kids are excitedly whispering. The students are grouped around their desks, each with an iPad in the middle. And on that iPad? A game. They’re thinking: we get to play! Their teacher is thinking: they get to learn.


That’s the beauty of game-based learning. A good game is a seamless blend of fun and learning. It allows the child to learn without impeding the student’s fun factor.

So on this day—the day before Valentine ’s Day—we’re spreading some game-based learning love. To all the educators who are using games in your classrooms to encourage deeper learning and long-lasting love of education, we say:


Step by Step: Building the City of Pompeii

Pompeii Lego

It took professional Lego artist extraordinaire Ryan McNaught 470 hours—that’s less than three weeks—to build his rendition of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. It took developers and artists at Dig-It! Games eight months to build the ruins of Pompeii for one of our newest interactive games, Loot Pursuit: Pompeii™. Pompeii will also be the jumping off point for Team Q’s newest adventure in Roman Town™ (coming soon to an iPad near you!).

McNaught mixed historical and modern elements in his representation of Pompeii. The model depicts Pompeii as it would have been found right before its destruction by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, how it looked when the city was rediscovered in the 1700s, and finally, how it looks today.

Pompeii with Artist

The process of building a city with 190,000 individual Lego blocks and building its ruins using 3D art development software are similar, but game production involves not only the building of the art within the game, but also programming, coding, and other elements.

A lot of work goes into making a game. From initial design to the game’s release, the team at Dig-It! Games™ hunkers down and gets busy. There’s the game’s conception and its design, the research, the programming, art, sound and—very important—testing.

Artists at Dig-It! Games™ researched the city, much like McNaught must have done, through archaeology books and the internet. One of the coolest tools used is Google Earth. Google Earth allows visitors to pinpoint anywhere on Earth by viewing satellite imagery, maps, terrain, and 3D buildings. In fact, when looking at a street view within Loot Pursuit: Pompeii™, the art team at Dig-It! Games™ can find that exact spot within a recent image of Google Earth. The tourists in the game are even based on those who were visiting the site when Google took their picture.

main menu

The objective is to make things look real to our players. Can they imagine themselves within the ruins of Pompeii, helping to rescue stolen artifacts and perhaps catch the notorious looter, Ladrone?

Much of the 3D art within the game begins with a ball. It can be stretched, manipulated and molded to create the artifacts hidden throughout the site of Pompeii. These artifacts come from years of archaeological discovery and research. But while players have a goal in mind to collect all the artifacts and win the game—they’ve got to solve timed math problems to do it.


Craig Barker, education manager at Sydney University Museums where the Pompeii structure is on display, has been quoted as saying, “Education and entertainment need not be mutually exclusive in a museum.”

Well, that’s certainly true about museums, but it also plays right back into our mission. We believe that fun and learning can be blended seamlessly into an interactive and engaging learning experience for kids.

That’s why our games incorporate age-appropriate content in math, science, social studies, and language arts with mini-games and challenges that encourage our players to think critically and outside the box.

2014: Something to Celebrate

It’s January 1. At last, the New Year has finally arrived. Last night, people all over the world hosted New Year’s Eve parties, ushering in 2015 and saying farewell to 2014.

Did you know that if we were the Maya, we’d be celebrating the New Year in July, not January? According to the Haab Mayan Calendar, the New Year does not begin on January 1 but rather July 26 each year—based on the earth’s rotation in relation to the sun.

Either way, we’ve got a lot to celebrate.

This past year has been exciting for Dig-It! Games™. We announced the winner of our 2013 Character Drawing Contest, Michaela and her character Anna, an archaeologist specializing in deciphering codes and identifying artifacts. We launched the conclusion of our award-winning game Mayan Mysteries™, and the app skyrocketed to being one of the featured iTunes apps for Kids 9-11 and is a top download around the world. We released the next game in our Loot Pursuit™ series, Loot Pursuit: Pompeii™, and focused on meeting Common Core standards so that students can practice their math skills aligned to what’s being taught in the classroom. We developed Maya Quiz™ as a complementary trivia app to Mayan Mysteries™, a game that’s fun for the whole family.


Then we began work on our next game: an update to the first game we created almost five years ago—Roman Town™—with a sneak peek through one of its mini-games, Artifact Snatch™.

Outside the realm of general company news, we hosted two Open House events at our studio in Bethesda and watched children, parents, and teachers fall in love with our games.


It’s exciting to see how one of our games can affect its players. It’s incredible to see kids get excited about learning—both through our game content, but also about game development and the work that goes into a game’s creation.

Now, for a toast to 2015. Here’s to the things we know now, and to the things we will learn in the coming year. To students and their teachers, returning from a (hopefully) restful break for the second half of the school year. And to the Dig-It! Games™ family—for their dedication to our mission, helping to turn students into lifelong learners with a love of curiosity, discovery and play.


Got Chocolate?

In 2002, an analysis of residue inside an ancient Maya teapot led to the discovery that the Maya had been consuming chocolate as far back as 2,600 years ago.

The cacao tree is scientifically known as Theobroma cacao, or “food of the gods.” Even their own records depict chocolate being poured for rulers and gods through hieroglyphics.

However, from Spanish accounts of the Maya culture, archaeologists know that these spouted teapots were used to drink liquid chocolate—a tradition that spanned across all classes and was not just singularly available to the upper class. The Maya often consumed chocolate with every meal.

Unlike our American hot chocolate, which is often mixed with milk, the analysis of the teapot residue shows the cacao butter was mixed with maize, water, honey, or chili. These ingredients and a pouring process created a thick and foamy hot chocolate for the Maya to enjoy.


With the holidays right around the corner, we wanted to pay homage to this delicious wintery drink with a recipe based on the Maya’s traditional hot chocolate. Below, you’ll find a recipe to make your own:


3 cups boiling water
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
8 ounces bittersweet Maya Kakaw or Xocoalt (chocolate paste) or
3 tablets Mexican unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons of wild pure honey, or raw sugar to taste
1 pinch of dried red chili
1 dried organic grown vanilla bean, split lengthwise
l tablespoon roasted peanuts, ground extra fine (optional Aztec hot chocolate taste)

How to Prepare:

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cinnamon sticks to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 cups. Remove cinnamon sticks; add the vanilla bean and lower the heat a bit, wait until bubbles appear around the edge to reduce heat to low and drop the chocolate pieces and wild pure honey, mix well and whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted. Turn off heat, remove vanilla bean. Whisk vigorously to create a light foam effect, sprinkle the dried chili pepper and serve.


If the hot chocolate is too bitter or rich, the website suggests that you can certainly add milk and sugar—ingredients added by the Spanish—to create a creamier, sweeter and more familiar taste.

Happiest of holidays and best wishes for the new year! Keep an eye out–we’ve got games in the works!


Thanksgiving means different things to different people. The holiday often conjures up images of the freshly-browned turkey and green-bean casserole. It makes people think of football games and parades and the chill of oncoming winter. But for most folks, we remember our family.


Here at Dig-It! Games™, our team is an extension of our own family. They feel at home, welcomed and appreciated in our offices. This culture of collaboration and friendship is so important when it comes to making games. Why? Because games should be fun—and if we’re not having fun making them, we’re not doing our job right. Games bring us together.

When we were children, there were long nights of board games like Monopoly and Clue. Then video games grew in popularity and there was push towards family competitions over things like Wii Sports. Now we see smart phones and tablets, games being played by children in restaurants or as their parents run errands. It’s time for games to bring families together again.


Thanksgiving is the perfect time to play an educational app with your children. Take the time to sit down with them, find something they’re interested in learning about, and look for a corresponding app. Games can be especially helpful while traveling to visit relatives (like Fiona and Charlie visiting Uncle Alex in Mayan Mysteries™!)


• Take turns playing a trivia app like Maya Quiz™ or Artifact Snatch™ and hold a contest to reach the highest score.
• Try a competition to stretch out the minds of your middle-schoolers with MayaNumbers™ for a prize, like an extra favorite snack on the airplane—or promise them that last piece of pumpkin pie.
• Brush up on your own math skills and see how well your children do with our Loot Pursuit™ series. Roam the ruins of Pompeii or travel to Tulum—save artifacts by correctly solving math problems aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
• Play a long-term game like Mayan Mysteries™ alongside your student. Help them if they struggle with difficult puzzles or timed challenges. For younger kids, read passages aloud about Maya culture and support your child in tracking down a notorious looter alongside our beloved characters, Team Q.

#GiveThanks for the family you share. Laugh, love, and spend time together this holiday with one of our apps.

We’d like to express our gratitude to the teachers, administrators, students and game-lovers who play our apps across the globe. Thank you for joining us to create a worldwide Dig-It! Games™ family with one mission: to empower middle school students to love learning through gameplay. Happy Thanksgiving!


5 Reasons You Should Play Artifact Snatch™

Dig-It! Games™’ latest app, Artifact Snatch™, is the first mini game from the updated Roman Town™, the company’s inaugural award-winning, parent-and-educator-praised game. Currently in development, Roman Town™ will be released in 2015. Until then, you should download Artifact Snatch™. Here’s why:

1. Read up on more than 75 genuine, ancient Roman artifacts.
Artifact Snatch™ has an encyclopedia of authentic artifacts that can be found throughout the game. Each artifact includes a 100% historically accurate description with information about the artifacts’ use in Roman culture and what we can learn from its discovery.


2. Grab and go—snatch up as many identifiable artifacts quickly for a higher score.
The object of the game is to identify as many learned Roman artifacts as you can within 90 seconds of play. The more artifacts you have learned, the higher score you can receive. The artifact’s title is shown at the top of the screen and players must correctly identify the artifact from a group of images. Once a player identifies the artifact correctly, another puzzle appears to continue play. Watch the clock—as time passes, it moves from green to yellow to red when time is almost up.


3. The game senses your challenge level—and meets it.
I’m always up for a challenge, but I was surprised to find that the more artifacts I identified correctly, the harder the game got. Suddenly, the group of three artifacts became a group of 18 to choose from. Searching for the object becomes more difficult and takes more time. If you know your Roman culture well enough, though, you may still be able to beat your previous score.


4. Psst! Here’s a secret: Team Q—of the top-rated Mayan Mysteries™—is joining in for the next Roman Town™ adventure. Does that mean Ladrone is in Italy?
Fiona, a popular member of the mystery-solving Team Q, greets you when Artifact Snatch™ opens, taking you on a guided tour of the game. While Team Q was not a part of the original Roman Town™, Artifact Snatch™ gives us a sneak peek of what to expect in the updated game. Will the game be story-driven? Will Team Q follow the notorious thief Ladrone through Rome? We’ll have to wait and see.


5. It’s free!
Artifact Snatch™ is free to download on the iTunes store. It includes the ability to post scores on Game Center and compete against peers to become the top-ranking player. Easy to use, fun for all ages. Play to learn!


The Value of Education Technology: 5 Takeaways from the ETI Summit

Yesterday, the Dig-It! Games™ team attended (and proudly sponsored!) the 2014 Education Technology Innovation Summit in Baltimore, MD. It was a day of panels, and speakers, and learning—with some wonderful educators and edtech leaders.

Here are five key takeaways from this year’s summit:

1. Online courses are quickly growing in popularity as a way to learn.

2. One of the best ways to engage students in content is through a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone.

3. Blended learning stems from a desire to personalize instruction and to give students access to information.

4. Teachers are innovative—(wait, we knew that!)—and they’re looking to collaborate.

5. Nothing beats seeing the Dig-It! Games logo as a “Hello, and Welcome!” moment.


DiG-iT! Games
DIG-IT! Games Production Studios

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Bethesda, MD 20814

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