Articles Tagged with: summer learning loss

Finish Off the Summer Right!

Summer vacation is officially drawing to a close (if it hasn’t already), and back to school season is in full swing. But, if your kids are feeling down from returning to the rigid schedule of classes, homework, and clubs, help them make the most of the last bits of summer feeling. For that matter, parents should take advantage of it too!

While our recent blogs have focused on preparing teachers and parents for the beginning of the school year, this one focuses on making the most of the end of the summer. Even if your school district has already started up again, take some weekend time while the warm weather still lingers. Here’s some ideas to smooth the transition into the school year.

Plan a Get-Together

Summer barbecue get together

Whether in celebration of back to school or the end of summer, think about arranging a get-together for parents and kids alike. Those with a yard could choose to host a barbecue and pull out the water guns for the kids. As the school year continues, big gatherings start becoming more difficult to arrange for students and their parents.

Talking with fellow parents also gives you the chance to make sure everything is prepared for the new year. Kids, meanwhile, return to socializing with their school friends a little early. It never hurts to help them prepare for the sudden influx of social contact. 

Even if you’re not the hosting type, think about arranging something out in the neighborhood. Send the kids to the pool or even head to a restaurant. Just make sure you all get the chance to spend some quality time with people you enjoy while there’s more time to do it.

Have a Pajama Day

Pajama day in the summer

Take a day to simply relax! Don’t get dressed and don’t go out. Lounge about in the AC and take 24 hours to stop worrying about the work you need to do. Instead, think about ways you can arrange family time together. Watch some TV, put together a puzzle, or play some board games.

Once school starts, your kids won’t have as much time to simply hang out. Likely, neither will parents. An indulgent pajama day is the perfect way to say goodbye to summer without any kind of pressure.

At the same time, it offers a good way to convince your kids to spend some time with you, particularly if they’re older. It’s even possible to keep them away from screens for the day, if any parents get worried about the amount of time kids spend on computers during the school year. Take advantage of the summer heat to create some valuable personal time together.

Make a Photo Album

photo album of summer memories

One thing you can do on a pajama day is go through your memories of the summer with your kids. Pick out the best pictures from time spent together on adventures or vacations and print them out from your computer or phone. Make your own photo album from construction paper if your kids are the craftier type, or buy one that’s pre-made.

While you reminisce, talk with your kids about their favorite part the summer. As they arrange the photos, parents can learn the best parts of the summer honestly. As an added benefit, talking about the summer will also allow them to practice for the inevitable back to school icebreakers they’ll receive.

Hang Out Together with Games

Our Excavate! series is currently 30% off with the code BACKTOSCHOOL18 on our online store. Reintroduce your kids to education in a fun way, allowing them to discover all about six unique ancient cultures through archaeology. The games can be bought separately or in a bundle, but all of them are 30% off. Learn more about Excavate or go to the online store now to buy your license.

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Summer Advice for Teachers!

One of the perks of being a K-12 teacher is that long break over the summer! But it can also be a lot to handle at the same time. Not sure what to do with yourself over the summer? We’ve got some advice for teachers on what to do in terms of professional development and having fun over the break. 

Get Reading

Summer advice for teachers 1: get reading

Summer is the best time for reading, whether at home, at the beach, or anywhere else. Also, reading is one of the easiest ways to keep learning over the summer whether you’re reading about new educational strategies or just curling up with a good novel. Summer learning is as important for teachers as it is for students! Maybe you picked up a book already, but the internet offers tons of teacher suggestions if you haven’t. 

While it’s an older list, Teach for America suggests several books from classroom management tips (Like See Me After Class and Real Talk for Real Teachers) to simple beach reads. The Washington Post also offers a list based on teacher recommendations for books in many different categories. However, if you want to grab a few newer titles, join Education Closet’s 2018 summer reading challenge for teachers. They list a good variety of genres from the fictional drama of Little Fires Everywhere to the step-by-step guides of The Design Thinking Playbook.

Your reading doesn’t have to just come from books either. Educational blogs feature new ideas and research on a regular basis. Some of our personal favorites include Edutopia, Mindshift, and, of course, our own blog right here!

Learn from Others

Teacher advice for the summer 2: learn from others at conferences and workshops

Summer is full of small workshops and conferences with educational organizations and thought leaders in the community, both in-person and online. For instance, PBS TeacherLine hosts a lot of workshops for teachers at all grade-levels. Some have the added benefit of being self-paced, meaning you can break up your learning across the summer as it works for you.

Going out to learn from others can be as simple as a trip to a museum! Find an interesting museum in your area and make a day of it. This directory should be helpful when it comes to finding something interesting that’s within a reasonable distance.

Dig-It! attended the Games for Change Festival back in June and will be attending the Serious Play Conference. Come see us at the latter conference if you happen to be in the area!

Take a Break

Teacher advice 3- make sure to relax during the summer break

After a long school year, you’ve earned it! Make sure to take a few days to spend time with family or enjoy some precious alone time. Plan a vacation or a staycation, if you’d rather stay at home. Try cooking more or exploring nearby cities. Summer gives you plenty of time to plan and do whatever you want. Take advantage of it!

If you happen to be a gamer, make sure to check out our summer gaming list for suggestions or just click over to our games page for tons of educational products to test out. Have fun and plan for next year- that’s two birds with one stone!

Mostly, however, our advice for teachers is this: make sure you’re doing stuff you enjoy while you’ve got the time! That’s the important thing.

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Our Summer Gaming List 2018

Summer is a great time to get gaming. Libraries are always handing out summer reading lists, so we assume that you’re already covered when it comes to setting yourself and your family up with great books (but if you’re not, here are a few recommendations). But do you know what games to set yourself up with? Look no further than this list, where we give you a few recommendations for what to tackle when you’re trying to avoid the heat.

Younger Players

When picking games for younger players, it’s important to keep a few considerations in mind. Games must be appropriate for the age group in content and difficulty but they still have to be fun too. Check out our recommendations.

Grow Home

Summer Gaming List 1: Grow Home from Ubisoft

Ubisoft

Grow Home is a short and sweet little adventure from Ubisoft. Play as B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) as he attempts to grow a plant which will oxygenate its home planet. The open world offers many opportunities for exploration as B.U.D.’s actions and movements adapt to the environment. Controls can be a bit difficult, but that’s just a way for parents to play along. Overall, it tells a sweet story with an adorable art style and a fun sense of discovery.

Grow Home is available on Windows, Linux, and PlayStation 4.

Super Mario Odyssey

Summer Gaming List 2: Super Mario Odyssey from Nintendo

Nintendo

The Switch is the big new thing for good reason. While the amount of games remains small, the game available are stellar. Like Grow Home, Super Mario Odyssey offers a great sense of discovery. Take Mario and his friend Cappy on an adventure through the many lands the game has to offer. From urban to jungle, Mario explores all kinds of places in his journey. Controls, particularly the motion controls, can also be finicky, but they’re not bad.

Super Mario Odyssey is available on the Nintendo Switch.

Older Players

As gamers get older, they want more complicated games to play. Fast-paced, thoughtful gameplay or narrative heft are both considerations when picking a gamer for bigger kids (or even for parents!) to play. Here’s a few suggestions.

Fortnite

Summer Gaming List 3: Fortnite from Epic Games

Epic Games

Battle Royale is the big craze and Fortnite is the king among them. Like Overwatch, Fortnite offers player vs. player gameplay without an excess of gore. The game features a building mechanic where players can craft walls or ramps for themselves with material they collect in the environment. Just watch out for the online interactions to make sure your players are not harassing others or being harassed themselves. Best way to prevent this? Make sure they’re playing with known friends or keep the voice chat off.

Fortnite is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Shadow of the Colossus

Summer Gaming List 4: Shadow of the Colossus from Bluepoint Games and Team Ico

Bluepoint Games

Shadow of the Colossus is one of the classics of video games, and it’s more accessible than ever with the remake that came to PlayStation 4 this year. Experience a great example of storytelling through games. An added bonus- if you’re not quite caught up to the current generation of systems, a remaster of the original version of the game can be played on the PlayStation 3. For gamers who enjoy narrative, Shadow of the Colossus is definitely a can’t-miss.

Shadow of the Colossus is available on PlayStation 2, 3, and 4.

Summer Gaming for the Whole Family

Gaming doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Make a night of it and bring the whole family together to play games. While local co-op can be hard to find, we’ve got you covered with these two awesome possibilities.

Overcooked

Summer Gaming List 5: Overcooked from Ghost Town Games

Ghost Town Games

Test your family’s ability to cooperate with Overcooked where your group of chefs must work together to save the world from a ravenous beast. First, however, you must train in an increasingly complex set of kitchens. Deal with cooking on top of two trucks, on a sailing ship, and in the middle of a busy crosswalk. Overcooked supports up to four players in both cooperative and competitive modes.

Overcooked is available for Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Human Fall Flat

Summer Gaming List 6: Human Fall Flat from No Brakes Games

No Brakes Games

Human Fall Flat challenges you to take control of the most awkward, clumsy humanoid creature there is and solve physics-based puzzles with nothing but your genius and a bit of nonsense. While Human Fall Flat only supports two players locally, it’s easy to pass the controllers back and forth if your family expands beyond that. The game offers a lot of fun and a lot of laughs as you try desperately to clear challenges in the most awkward way possible.

Human Fall Flat is available on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Dig-It! Games’ Gaming Catalogue

Summer Gaming List 7: Dig-It! Games

Of course, we have our own catalog of games! While our focus has always been on education, we’ve been applying those experiences to puzzle games recently. For fans of match 3, there’s not a better fit than Silk Road! Head on down the famous trade route with Matthias, the friendly but sassy camel who serves as your companion. Also, coming this year is Roterra, our map traversal game where players take on the role of Angelica. Help guide Angelica home through the twisting, turning world of Roterra. Both of these games will challenge your mind in different ways.

If you’d like to beta test for Roterra or just stay up-to-date on the development, make sure to sign up for updates on the game page.

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Filament Games also has their own reading and gaming list for the summer with even more recommendations, once you get through these.


Stop Summer Learning Loss…While Having Fun!

As the school year rolls into the summer, we are all looking forward to warm weather and vacations. However, just because school is out doesn’t mean learning should come to a stop. Without any sort of academic practice, kids can experience summer learning loss which puts them at a disadvantage when the school year starts again. To combat this summer learning loss, fun activities, games, and events centered around learning are hugely necessary. On this post, we feature several ways to keep kids thinking hard during the long summer months.

Summer Learning Activities

summertime learning to stop summer learning loss

Summer learning doesn’t necessarily need to be traditional classroom learning. Activities that kids might not have had time for during the year can keep their minds active while providing something fun and different. Teach kids how to cook or set them to learning new arts and crafts that keep them creative.

Bringing them outside for science experiments or adventures can keep them active and soaking up the good weather while learning. After a good day outside, make your own ice cream to cool down or chill out in the AC for some reading time.

Essentially, it’s not neccesary to concoct whole lesson plans to stop summer learning loss. Simply make sure that activities get planned and resources are available to keep kids’ minds working and thinking creatively. For a full list of suggestions, We Are Teachers and Education World have specific resources for families in the summer. All of these are easy plans for a weekend excursion depending on parents’ work schedules.

Educational Shows & Videos

educational shows and programs can help stop summer learning loss

One of the benefits of modern technology is the sheer amount of educational programming you can find out there. However, not every source teaches effectively or impartially. Finding the right sources can be hard, especially if you rely on streaming services. We recommend a few unconventional services for various ages below. 

CrashCourse offers a literal “crash course” on almost every topic you could imagine. It began with a focus on history but expanded into science, literature, and more. The lessons are presented in comic form with cute figures and animations providing context for the actual facts being presented.

Khan Academy is a pretty well-known resource now, but it is still worth mentioning. The free service has everything you could possibly need, taught by experts in the field. It even includes test prep for students who want to start getting ready for SAT and other big tests over the summer.

As we’re a game company, we have a fondness for Extra Credits, a channel that not only covers topics in game design but also in history and science fiction. Like CrashCourse, they offer their lessons in animated form, but their videos focus on more specific topics rather than providing wider overviews. For kids who are fond of games, their main Extra Credits series offers a great way to learn about the industry and the inner workings of their favorite games. Speaking of which, games themselves offer ways to learn during the summer!

Game-Based Learning

Our educational games work well in classrooms, but they also can be used to keep learning going outside of it. Not only are educational games fun, they sneak learning in almost before you can realize it. Excavate! offers a fun way to delve into ancient cultures while ExoTrex literally rockets you into the future of space. 

Our games aren’t the only educational games out there and a quick web search will open up a whole host of games for kids of different ages to play. From TeacherGaming (whose Odyssey game we reviewed) to iCivics, our fellow game-based learning companies offer great products for combating summer learning loss.

Learn More About Summer Learning Loss

combat summer learning loss

The organization Summer Learning dedicates itself to combating summer learning loss in communities across America. Their website includes information on why summer learning matters and how summer learning loss can be harmful. For a summary of what exactly summer learning loss can entail, check out the statistics from Oxford Learning.

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Summer Learning Loss Campaign #gogolearn

Summer Learning Loss

Fighting Summer Learning Loss with Games

Note: This is an early preview of our Summer Learning Loss Campaign – On July 14th all the details will be updated here.

At Dig-It! Games®, we are committed to improving education. As our corporate mission states, “we believe in the power of games to change how kids learn by promoting critical thinking, independent learning, and cultural understanding. Our games incorporate age-appropriate content in math, science, social studies and language arts into fun, interactive and engaging learning experiences. 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.”

The education community has recently come to understand the true value of game-based learning and games are being regularly integrated into curricula. Currently, half of all K-12 teachers are using games in their classrooms in a meaningful way. These educators recognize the value of games in their students’ learning experiences and the potential of using the data collected by digital games to improve students’ learning and create personalized learning environments. Teachers are finding that games are effective in improving executive function skills, 21st century skills, technology skills, Literacy and Math skills, and more.

Unfortunately, those most in need of our products are often least able to use them. Teachers report that digital games help low-performing students catch up and motivate them to learn more. Digital games not only improve student performance, but positively impact student behavior and attendance. But the digital divide remains, making it a challenge for the students who could benefit the most from game-based learning to gain access to digital learning products.

At Dig-It! Games®, we recognize this challenge and are working to help close the achievement gap. We have spent the past several months rebuilding our infrastructure to provide access to our products from any device on any platform. This device-agnostic approach meets kids where they are: on their phones and other mobile devices. Although bandwidth and data access remain a problem for many students in America, we are happy to be taking steps in the right direction. Our games are also now available on Chromebooks, a more affordable option for schools and parents both.

But we can do more. Every summer, low-income students lose 2-3 months of academic skills compared to their higher-income peers. These gaps in math, reading and other skills add up: by 5th grade, students can be as much as 3 years behind! Summer Learning Loss is real, and affects low-income students disproportionately. Dig-It! Games is joining a national movement to eradicate Summer Learning Loss. Led by the National Summer Learning Association, partners around the country are hosting Summer Learning Day events on July 14, 2016 to raise awareness for this vital educational initiative. To learn more about Summer Learning Day or to find an event near you, visit http://www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-day/. Dig-It! Games will be hosting an event to raise awareness in our community. We hope you will join us at on July 14, 2016 at Veterans Park in Bethesda.

It’s a great start, but we believe we can do even more. Games are a perfect tool to prevent Summer Learning Loss and keep kids engaged in learning throughout the summer months. Games build content knowledge, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and so much more. Plus, they’re just fun! Who doesn’t want to be an archaeologist, or search through Maya pyramids or explore space in an engaging game? However, we realize that the students who are most affected by Summer Learning Loss can’t afford these fun experiences. So we are proud to announce our new “Get One, Give One” initiative.

Through “Get One, Give One,” for every game purchased or downloaded this summer we will give a game to a low-income student. Download a Dig-It! game from the iOS App Store or download or buy a game on our website  and we will donate a game to one of our partner organizations to distribute to a child in need. Any game. Free or paid. Big or small. We’re serious about fighting Summer Learning Loss, but we need your help.

If you are or know an organization that can benefit from this campaign you can submit an application here.

As an added incentive, the initial donated game will be our brand new science game ExoTrex™, which with a pre-release retail price of $5.99. So, buy ExoTrex™ for yourself and know that a child is receiving access to a high-quality science game they couldn’t otherwise afford. Or play Excavate!™ for free and that child will still get ExoTrex™ to improve his/her chemistry skills before school starts back up in the fall.

The more you Get, the more we Give. So spend your summer building your vocabulary, exploring the Maya jungle and excavating artifacts! With 10 games to choose from (and more coming this summer), there’s something for everyone. Why not try them all? The kids suffering from Summer Learning Loss will thank you.

EXOTREX Summer Learning

Excavate

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Summer Learning Loss. Don’t let your kids slip down the “Summer Slide”

Summer is here and you know what that means: summer break for your kids. No more waking up at the break of dawn to sluggishly get dressed for school, no more rushing out of the house in hopes of making it to the bus stop on time and no more eight-hour school days. Summer vacation to many kids include sleeping in, watching television, playing games and spending a bulk of their time on social media. Now, while we completely understand the excitement for this lackadaisical lifestyle, this can lead to a more serious issue: summer learning loss.

children-403582_1920

Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” has been a topic of discussion amongst parents and educators for a while now. This term describes the loss of academic knowledge throughout the span of your child’s summer break. Studies show that the problem is particularly acute among low-income students who lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, which slows their progress toward third grade reading proficiency.

 

Aside from idle time aiding in summer learning loss, many view video games as a contributing factor. The vision of kids laying on the couch with their eyes glued to videos game for hours at a time, is enough to make some cringe. But contrary to popular belief, video games can actually assist in the learning and developmental process of children. Recent research has proven that gaming can increase brain function, problem solving skills, spatial reasoning, memory, attention span, strategic planning, and even social skills.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.27.26 PM

We believe in the power of game-based learning and its ability to enhance education through promoting critical thinking, independent learning and fun with intellectual discovery. Our games and those from other developers can fill part of the learning gap this summer while blending fun and education together.  However, we realize that the students who are most affected by Summer Learning Loss can’t afford these fun experiences.  So we will soon be announcing our new “Get One, Give One” initiative (#gogolearn) to help those most affected.  Stay tuned for more on this program and how to be a partner next week.

Explore our game on the Apple App store and our game store library to explore summer learning with games.  Our newest game ExoTrex!, designed for students ages 12 to 15, takes players on a space mission that promotes learning and fun through the subjects of Chemistry, Astrophysics and Space Science. Exotrex! is a perfect game to reinforce these topics covered throughout the school year or for parents to expose their kids to these subjects prior to starting school. We are excited to announce this game will be available in mid-July. In the meantime, slide over to our library of educational games, ranging from archaeological excavation games to challenging vocabulary games, so you can be the first to know when ExoTrex! becomes available.