Category: Teacher Resources
Snow Days, Game Days *Update*

February can be the snowiest month and this year is no different. Schools are more cautious than ever about student safety and this results in a ton of delays and cancellations. As a teacher, this can be incredibly frustrating as end of year testing is looming. As parents, you are scrambling to find something for you kids to do all day. Hopefully this post will help.

Communication tools for teachers on snow days

Communication tools for teachers

It’s easier than ever (almost too easy) to be in communication with the school community. These are some tried and true student/family communication apps:

  • Remind – After signing up for text message alerts, teachers can easily send mass emails to their families. It also has a chat feature (and there’s no exchanging of phone numbers).
  • Email – Teachers, if you don’t have your parents set up as groups in your emails, please do so! It’ll make your life so much easier!
  • ClassDojo – easy way to see information about the student and communicate with the teacher.
Students go out and play on snow days

Playtime in the snow!

We all have seen the research that says kids don’t get to play enough. Some of the best memories are made on snow days when everyone is snowed in together. So tell your students to get out there and build forts, throw snowballs, make snow angels and maybe do some science experiments. Then come back in and warm up with some indoor activities.

Our educational games can help teachers keep students on track on snow days

Let them play video games!

Last year we wrote this blog post for teachers about using video games to keep students active in material. Having a resources page on either Google Classroom or your LMS, or your website is always a good idea. Keeping it relevant to the current lesson is also a good idea, but not always necessary. Video games pass the time quickly and can encourage curiosity and love of learning. Check out our Excavate! Series of games to allow your student to become an archaeologist and also our ExoTrex series for the older kids.

Discover all our educational video games
Learn More

Enjoy the snow!

Having students show what they did and learned on their snow day can be so much fun and very inspirational to other students. Using a platform like FlipGrid or Google Slides allows students to share their experiences in their own words. We all know the importance of  fostering an environment of curiosity and fun so that students continue their love of learning.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Experience Mesopotamia, Don’t Just Teach It!

Students often ask when they will use what they are learning in school or how a topic actually relates to their own lives.  This can be particularly challenging while teaching about the daily life of Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago.

An image of a chariot, technology invented in Mesopotamia

We usually start with the contributions of the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians.  They were amazing civilizations since they developed agriculture, invented the wheel, created city-states, organized militaries and laid down the law in the form of Hammurabi’s code.  We can even refer to top 10 lists of inventions that show that these civilizations were great and that they built the foundations of our modern life.  While it is obvious that we owe a debt of gratitude to their inventiveness, we still need to approach teaching these civilizations in a way that engages the modern student.

One approach is to focus on lesser-known aspects of these civilizations like the History Channel’s list of “9 Things You May Not Know About the Ancient Sumerians.”  You can impress students by highlighting that women were rulers, their cities were the size of modern cities and that they loved beer. However, in the end it may still feel like another list of irrelevant facts.

Another approach is to change how the information is taught.  Crash Course has created a great library of quick and informative YouTube videos. These can be used as a great preview at the start of a unit.  Their Mesopotamia video astutely proclaims that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world monocular.”  You may grab student’s attention with pithy animation videos, but you may want to utilize interactive digital experiences too.

A stone image of Hammurabi, a king in MesopotamiaAlthough the selection of online interactives about Mesopotamia is not very robust, there is a variety in the types of experiences to be had.   There are basic interactives that essentially bring to life maps from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s textbooks.   There are also interactives that put students in the decision maker’s position like Philip Martin’s interactive Hammurabi’s code. In this interactive, students have to choose the appropriate punishment based on the codes.    The British Museum has an extensive interactive Mesopotamia site in which students can explore the geography, religion and technology of Babylonia, Assyria and Sumer.  Finally, students can also try their hand at playing the ancient game of Ur.

As you can see, there are many resources to engage your students online. However, all of these are missing a core component which is key to engaging students deeply.  Our understanding of history is always evolving based on new archaeological findings and the development of new scientific tools.  Why not engage your students in the process of discovering and debating what actually happened?

An image from Dig-iT Games' Excavate! Mesopotamia

History is discovery.  Here at Dig-iT! Games, we are committed to the discovery of history through archaeology.  We have just released Excavate! Mesopotamiaan interactive video game which provides a different way to look at Mesopotamian civilizations. The game challenges students to excavate artifacts, analyze them and then synthesize what they have learned. Students must closely examine artifacts and discover the purpose and significance of each one. This leads to a deeper understanding of the daily life in ancient Babylonia, Assyria and Sumer.

History is contested.  For example, new technologies have afforded insight into the possible role that shepherds played in trade in Mesopotamia. Previously, historians believed that nomadic shepherds were instrumental in facilitating international trade. They would travel widely in search of greener pastures for their sheep and goats.  But, new technologies have afforded new findings that are sparking controversy.  It’s possible shepherds actually stayed closer to cities to supply milk and fur and were out of the trade networks.  This article from Science Magazine highlights the debate. This is a great way to share with students the process of discovering history and the necessity of being critical of sources and processes used to reach conclusions.  Encourage critical thinking skills over the belief that history is a closed case!

We hope you find these resources helpful in engaging your students in the study, exploration and intellectual discussion concerning Mesopotamia.


World History | Teaching Ancient Egypt in 2018

Teaching about ancient Egypt has never been easier – a quick Google search for Ancient Egypt lesson plans yields millions of results. A teacher can also look at TeachersPayTeachers and find over 3,200 resources to buy and use. It’s easy to understand why – ancient Egypt is a fascinating topic that is taught in every World History curriculum. What person (both student and adult) doesn’t like to learn about mummification and pulling brains through the nose? Therefore, while ANOTHER list of Egypt resources might not be necessary, let’s talk about how to use the amazing technology we have to bring this ancient civilization to life.

One of the leaders in educational VR lesson plans is Nearpod. They have their own VR headsets included with a purchase of class sets of their produce. The virtual field trips they offer include the Washington Monument, Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Giza. In the Egyptian lesson, students explore the Tomb of Ramesses VI and learn about hieroglyphics.

Another great option is the British Museum as they hold the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt. The museum has done a great job of putting their entire collection online where you can search the artifacts, and they recently made their entire Egyptian Exhibit a 360 experience! Students are able to walk through the exhibit and explore the artifacts. Check out vr.britishmuseum.org for more information.

Describing Egypt is a wonderful website that is being developed to tell the story of Egypt’s long and interesting past. Right now, they have seven different tours focusing on the tombs of the 30 Dynasties era – making it possible to walk through the tombs and temples of some of the most important sites in ancient Egypt.

Discovering EgyptInteractive Lessons on Ancient Egypt is a website by Mark Millmore who is an artist with an intense interest in Egyptology. He has developed incredible 3D renderings of the temples of Egypt. They are also available as an iPad app. He even has an Egyptian hieroglyphic typewriter that students will love to play around with.

If you are looking for an interactive experience where your student becomes the archaeologist, look no further than our Excavate! Egypt. Students have the option to travel to four important locations along the Nile.

  • In Alexandria players will learn about the importance of education and trade in the Great Library.
  • In Karnak players explore the great Temple of Karnak and understand the power of the Pharaoh.
  • In Giza players gain an understanding of the people who built the Pyramids by exploring the worker’s village.
  • In Valley of the Kings players discover tools and items used in mummification and the tombs of the Pharaohs.

In each site, players use virtual archaeology tools to dig for artifacts. Once uncovered, players move to the analysis tent where they answer multiple choice questions that force them to look closely at the artifact. Finally, players are asked to gather their new information together in a field report to summarize what they’ve found.

In addition to the video game, we have created the Excavate! Card Game. Players must use their knowledge of the people, artifacts, and locations of Egypt to make connections. It’s a fun way to let students use their creativity and show what they really know. Check it out here!

We hope this list provided some fresh inspiration for your unit on Ancient Egypt. We’d love to hear about any other cool tools your use!

 

 


That’s a Wrap! Summer Advice for Teachers
As a former teacher, I know very well the excitement that June brings for most educators out there. Some of you are already done (Congratulations!) and some are so close you can taste it (hang in there)! I still have that sense of anticipation even though this will be my first non-teacher summer ever! While I hope most of you can sit back and relax a bit, I also know that a lot of you will be working at some point this summer. The summer was a great time for me to reflect on the past year as a whole and start formulating my approach for the fall on my own time. I am no expert by any means, but I wanted to offer some of my advice for getting the most out of your summer planning:
  • If you kept a journal throughout the year, go back and read it. If not, think through your year. Make a list of your greatest lessons and also the ones that completely failed (we all have those). Analyze these to see what you can keep, get rid of, or change. I always had student feedback that I referenced while doing this too.
  • Keep up with your peers on Twitter. It’s the best free PD you can find! Use the hashtag for your content area and find chats that interest you – full schedule can be found here. It worked wonders for me for the past 5 years to just keep up with trends in schools and what teachers from all over the world were doing.
  • Do you use Kahoot, ClassDojo, or Dig-iT! Games? Check out my blog post about connecting with EdTech companies. They (we) want to hear from you! Do you have questions or concerns about something? Do you have a feature you’d like to see added? Don’t be afraid to reach out.
  • Learn something new! This is the perfect time to learn about technology tools, game based learning, or anything that will make your life easier in the fall. Check out these programs from the Institute of Play. Then put your new knowledge into practice by using one of our games! You can see them all here.
  • Lastly, relax and enjoy yourself as much as possible. If you have kids or  extra summer jobs, try to carve out some time for yourself to recharge. It’s just as important!
We are just as excited about summer here at the studio. We have our education team heading to ISTE in San Antonio. If you’ll be there, reach out and meet up! You can find the blog post here to explain more. We are also working on curriculum and lesson plans to make implementing our games in the classroom much easier!
On Fridays our incredibly talented artists show off their skills live on Twitch and will answer any questions you may have about how they create characters and objects for our games. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter! You’ll get first access to our new games and the news coming out of the studio.  We’d love to hear from you! Enjoy your summer!

 


Games to Prepare for Testing

April is a busy time of the year, and it also signifies that the school year will soon end. The end of the school year means one thing in the education field, review of all content material cover in the curriculum to help students prepare for their end-of-year projects and assessments. What is the best way to prepare students? Some teachers use review packets and drill practice worksheets. However, the best way to review the content and prepare for testing is to have students play games! 

At Dig-It! Games, we have numerous games that help students review standards in the intermediate and middle school grade levels.

 

Loot Pursuit: Early America is a great game for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students to practice math computation and U.S. History standards on Jamestown. 

 

 

Exotrex Episode 1 allows students to review concepts taught in Physical Science and Earth Science standards. 

 

 

Excavate! is a series of ancient civilization games on the social, cultural and economic standards of the cultures of Maya, Egypt, and Mesopotamia through ancient artifacts.

 

Games allow students multiple attempts where a state assessment/end-of-year test only gives the student one chance with the material. Games enable students to play with concepts and materials taught during the year in a quick, safe and easy way to help students practice and cement the information they are reviewing. For all students no matter the grade, there is a lot of curriculum covered in a school year, and a subject specific game can allow students to fail at concepts while practicing over and over again until the student and the teacher feel that they have mastered the concepts needed to pass the yearly assessments.

As the end of the school year nears to a close and those state tests draw closer, make sure your students are ready! Check out our games as well as others to help your students prepare for their final assessments!

 


Breakout of Your Old Lesson Plan!

What if there was a lesson plan that uses your curriculum to teach teamwork, troubleshooting, critical thinking and problem solving? Would you use it?  One of the newest activities for students to experience in the classroom is “Breakout: Edu”.

 

Have you experienced an “Escape Room” yet? If you haven’t heard about them, a team of people get locked into a room and must solve clues to find the way out of the room. The rooms are themed: Pirates, Indiana Jones, the 80’s, the 90’s, Harry Potter, and so on which only make the games more popular.

 

Educators have taken this idea and put it into practical use in the classroom. This changes the game from breaking out of a room to finding combinations to open a series of locks on a box to find a reward. This game lends itself to a wide array of skills for students such as critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. BreakoutEdu is a company that sells inexpensive kits that include the box, locks, UV flashlight, and more but it is also relatively easy to buy your own materials.

 

The popularity of this game proves that this game can be a standard in a class where students are having fun and collaborating while applying their knowledge! They aren’t just answering trivia questions, they are actively using the information they learned in a class to achieve a purpose. The questions can be adapted to ANY subject or content area and mini activities can add depth and fun. It is also very easy to adapt this game digitally and let students play individually or in small groups.

 

This form of problem-solving has many teachers and administrators excited! There is huge potential in using breakout activities as performance-based learning. By pairing cross-curricular content with puzzles, riddles, questions and clues, teachers are able to build hands-on experiences where students can apply their schema, reasoning, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills to show their mastery of the curriculum. This fantastic opportunity for engaging learning has even been adapted as young as kindergarten!

 

Here at Dig-It! Games, we love to see the intersection of learning and fun and applaud anything that can do this. Have you tried a Breakout in your classroom? What did you think?

10 Reasons to Play BreakOut Edu

Top 10 Reasons for Breakouts by Sylvia Duckworth and Maria Galanis

 

 

 


Teacher Gift That Keeps On Giving
Time just escapes us when we are having fun making educational games for students around the world.  Where did the year 2016 go?  As we near the end of the year the month of December is one of giving and sharing.  We have shared a lot with the education community and wanted to find a way to continue some of that sharing during the giving season.

Are you giving a gift to your child’s teacher this year?  What if you could give a gift to your child’s whole classroom and to a classroom of underserved students for the same price?  With our Get One Give One Program you can give two classroom’s worth of games for less than $25.  For a limited time, purchase 25 copies of Excavate!™, Excavate!™ Egypt, Loot Pursuit™ Maya, or Loot Pursuit™ Early America for a 67% discount off the individual price. You send the games to the teacher of your choice and we will donate a classroom’s worth of games to a teacher at an underserved school.  Just add the game of your choice to your cart, apply the discount code TEACHER2016 and send the license keys you receive to your teacher.  It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving and with your help we can eradicate summer learning loss.  Offer expires 12/31/2016.  For more information on our campaign to fight summer learning loss, visit our GOGO Learn page.

 

The Games
All
Awards
Casual Game
Education Game
Featured
Featured Awards
Language Arts
Math
News
Science
Social Studies

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match