Create Live Quizzes with GimKit

We all know that our students LOVE to play quiz games. These games can be a fun and engaging way to review content or check for understanding. Many of us have been creating quizzes and using them in our classes for some time. There are a whole host of tools out there we can use to create out games. Recently a new tool piqued my interest. Not because of any particular feature but because of the fact that it was developed by a high school student.

GimKit is a web-based quiz tool created and maintained by, Josh Feinsilber, a high school student from Seattle. Josh created GimKit when he was a junior. I mentor high school entrepreneur teams so I was thrilled to see a tool created by an innovative student. Way to go, Josh!!


Using GimKit, teachers create custom quizzes that their students play as live games or as homework assignments. As students play the game, they earn in-game money they can use to purchase upgrades, power-ups, and other rewards. They need to be careful though, incorrect answers will cost them cash.

It is free to sign up for the basic plan, which gives you most of the features but a limited number of quizzes you can create. To add the ability to create more quizzes and manage more classes, you can upgrade to the Pro or Go package. The Pro package will cost you $4.99 a month while Go is $7.99 per month. To see a full breakdown of the pricing, visit the pricing page.

student view
Student view during the game.

The game-play is similar to Kahoot! – students use a code to join the game and then answer questions on their own device. On the teacher screen, you can see which students are in the lead.

There are some fun features that set this apart from the typical quiz game application.


  • As a teacher, you can create your own quizzes, a class roster, and assign quizzes as homework.

    GimKit draw
    Waiting for the Game to start.
  • Use the KitCollab and have students work together to create their own quizzes.
  • As students wait to for the game to start, they can draw on their screen. This a fun little hidden feature.
  • The in-game reward system is pretty robust and I can see how it can motivate students to play and earn cash. There is a huge library of power-ups and rewards that students can purchase with the money they earn from playing the games.
  • For teachers, there is an easy to navigate dashboard where you can manage quizzes, classes, and assignments.
  • Quiz creation is super simple. You can add images to your questions. I like that the system automatically randomizes the questions and answers. Because this is so simple, you can create quizzes quickly.
  • Teachers also have the ability to import quizzes from Quizlet.

If your students like to play quiz games, then you should give GimKit a try. It is a power-packed tool that your students will love to play.

Also, be sure to tell them that GimKit was created by a student just like them. Challenge them to think about what they could create if given the chance.

Way to go, Josh for creating a great tool! You have a great future ahead of you! Well done!

Learn Genetics through Dragon Breeding

I remember my high school biology class. Being fascinated by dominant and recessive traits such as eye color, and tongue rolling. I remember learning about how an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel experimented on pea plants to learn about inherited traits and genetics. It was one of the cooler biology topics. You know what would have made it cooler? DRAGONS!

Well, thanks to SpongeLab, your students can now explore Mendelian Genetics by breeding their own dragons with Dragon Breeder.

Rise of the Dragons

Genetics Lab
Genetics Lab

In Dragon Breeder, you are an apprentice breeder, breeding different types of dragons to earn rewards and hone your skills. There are two types of gameplay, campaign-based and free play.  The campaign is a story based game that moves your through the journal of Esse Ipsum as he analyzes the genetic makeup of different body traits such as body shape, head shape, and wing type. As you move through the story, you receive work orders and take on specific breeding challenges. You earn rewards as you successfully complete challenges. Use those rewards to purchase skills and level up. In free play you practice your breeding skills by breeding and selling dragons with different traits. There is also sky mode where you fly a dragon around the sky looking for chests of rewards.

Learning Tools

Tutorial - The Dragon Breeding Handbook
Tutorial – The Dragon Breeding Handbook

Breeding dragons is not easy. Luckily, there is a tutorial level that walks you through the process. The tutorial level is easy to follow and works to build your understanding of both the game and basic genetics. I would recommend walking through the 8 tutorial levels before starting the game. They are very helpful. I only completed up to level 4 and then started the game. It was fun to click around and see what you can do in the game. However, I think I would have been more productive if I would have finished the entire tutorial.

Worth the Play

It has been a long time since I explored Mendelian Genetics. I think high school me would have enjoyed playing this game. Because, really, who doesn’t like dragons? The gameplay is a little clunky but the game is in beta. Also, I didn’t play through all the tutorial levels before going into campaign mode. So, that is on me.

If you are teaching genetics, give this a try. It might be what you need to hook your reluctant geneticists.


Create Interactive AR Story and Game Experiences with Metaverse Studio

If you are a fan of augmented reality games and stories but never thought you would be able to create one of your very own, then you will enjoy Metaverse Studio.

Metaverse Overview

Metaverse Studio is a free online development tool for creating interactive mobile experiences. You can create interactive stories, games, scavenger hunts and more. The premise seems complicated but, thanks to an intuitive storyboard and an amazing library of tutorials, creating a customized experience is easier than you think.

What is an Experience?

Screenshot of some Metaverse Experiences
Screenshot of some Metaverse Experiences

Before you start creating your own experiences it might be useful to download the mobile app and play some of the experiences created by others. An experience can be an interactive VR tour, where 360 images are combined with user response screens to create an interactive VR field trip. Or, an experience could be an augmented reality quiz, digital breakout, or interactive story. Each experience is a mini mobile game created by members of the community.

There are a bunch of experiences in the library. It reminds me of all of the other user created libraries out there like Kahoot!, Quizizz, etc. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are ridiculous. All are interesting was to use VR/AR/MR technology.

What excites me about this tool is the possibilities of what you and your students can create using the storyboard.

Metaverse Storyboard

The Metaverse storyboard is where all the creative magic happens. The storyboard is a web-based tool for creating experiences. When you peek behind the curtain of a Metaverse experience, it looks like a concept map or a flow chart. Look at the image below. It might help.

Metaverse Storyboard
The storyboard of my first experience. Buttons connect to different the scenes that make up my experience.

The storyboard is where you lay out the framework of your experience, format your scenes, add media and interactive features. My first experience, which you can gaze on above, was a simple choose your own adventure story where you help the unicorn find their cat. You can see the first scene where the unicorn asks for your help. Choose the “No.” button and the game ends with a picture of a sad cat. Say “Yes.” and your spirit panda helps its new unicorn friend find his cat in a strange Back to the Future 360 world. The experience ends with a happy cat. Each of the scenes with gray backgrounds are actually augmented reality scenes.

Key Features

My simple little experience is nothing compared to the sophisticated experiences you can create with Metaverse. In addition to standard scenes, you can add interactive modules and input blocks. It is fairly easy to go from simple two scene experiences to AR scavenger hunts. I’m going to be honest, I need a lot more training on the more complicated blocks and modules before I can use them effectively. Luckily, there is a comprehensive tutorial channel on YouTube. You can watch videos on how to add polls, selfie features, and use some of the code blocks to add inventory management, probability events, leaderboards, and more.  As I said, for a tool that looks simple on the surface, you can create some complicated experiences.

What I like most about this tool is that you can get started right away and create simple experiences, however, you will not outgrow this tool quickly. There are lots of things you can do as your skill increases. As the website says – you can create amazing things! Go give it a try!


An Interactive Story with 57° North for MERGE Cube

This app goes out to all my fellow children of the 80s who loved a good Choose Your Own Adventure book. The team at Mighty Coconut have created a beautiful augment reality choose your own adventure story for the MERGE Cube called 57° North.

The Story

57° North is the story of two cousins who are stranded on an island in the Alaskan wilderness. Their survival is in your hands as you choose the direction of the story. The story is intense and action-packed. (I’m going to try to give no spoilers here – so this will be vague.) It is part survival, part mystery as you help the two main characters navigate through the plot. According to the Mighty Coconut website, the story is for 10 and up and should take about an hour to go through once. However, just like any good CYOA story, you have to go back and try all the different paths to see how the story changes.

The Artwork

As you can see from the video and the screenshots, the artwork is gorgeous. Viewing this on the MERGE Cube gives you some depth to the artwork. As you can see in the video, you can move the scene around. The music also pairs really well with the feel of the story. Overall, it is a very nice piece of media.

Playing the StoryScreenshot_20181104-160407.png

To watch the story, you need a Merge Cube (read more about MERGE Cube here), a device, and the 57° North app. The app will run on both iOS and Android. It costs a mere $2.99, less than an ebook. You might also want a set of headphone. The sound works best with headphones and you won’t have nosy folks looking over your shoulder won=der what you are watching. To start the story, open the app with your device and scan the MERGE Cube. The story will launch. What I really like is that you do not need to finish the whole story in one sitting. If you close the app mid story, it will remember where you are and pick up where you left off. You move through the scene by rotating the MERGE Cube. As you can see in the video, when you come to a decision point, you rotate the cube to make your choice. It is a fun way to experience the story.  You can also play this using MERGE VR/AR goggles instead of the MERGE Cube.

In the Classroom

There are many different ways you could use this in the classroom. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Engage those reluctant readers. Get them hooked with this type of interactive storytelling and then hand them a vintage CYOA book or a great graphic novel.
  • Use the plot points in the story to explore STEAM concepts – STEM Read style. Visit the STEM Read website for inspiration. There are some great STEAM concepts in this story to explore.
  • Have your students create their own branching story. They can write one and leave it as a text-based story or turn it into a graphic novel.  Have them create a virtual version of their story. Go old school text-based with a tool like Twine. Read my review of Twine from last year’s 30 in 30. Or use visual tools like PowerPoint, Google slides or even Prezi, to create a digital version of their non-linear story.  I would love to figure out a way to have students create their own virtual stories on MERGE Cube. Maybe I will discover that as I explore the other apps.

I hope this is just the beginning of this type of storytelling. I also hope that Mighty Coconut continues to make interactive stories. I visited their website and there are a couple more VR/AR games available. They are not stories like 57 North but they do look cool. I really want to check out Laser Mazer! I might have to add that to this months list!

Inspiring Stories: Breaking Boundaries in Science from Filament Games

Inspiring kids to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is a large part of what I do on a daily basis. Now, thanks to Filament Games, we have a beautiful new VR experience to add to our toolbox – Breaking Boundaries in Science.

The Experience

Filament Games is known for their high quality, fun, educational games. Breaking Boundaries in Science is no exception. Created for Samsung VR and Oculus Go, Breaking Boundaries lets you or your students explore the working spaces of three groundbreaking female scientists: Jane Goodall, Grace Hopper, and Marie Curie. When you first enter the experience, you are standing in a great hall in front of portraits of the great women. Selecting a portrait sends you to a beautifully detailed virtual recreation of their workspaces. Once you are in these spaces, you can move through and explore these amazing spaces. In the space, you can select items and hear, in the scientist’s voice, a bit about their own story as it related to the item. Cool fun fact – Jane Goodall herself voiced her vignette. It is incredible to hear about her work from her.

A Screenshot of the scientists from the Breaking Boundaries website.

The gameplay experience is open exploration. The developers at Filament call it a form of non-linear storytelling, told through objects that held personal meaning to the scientists. It is almost like an unstructured Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. Using this strategy, Breaking Boundaries tells a multi-faceted story about the scientific breakthroughs that made these women pioneers in their field and, more importantly, an intimate portrait of who these women were as people.

My Experience

My colleague and I had the opportunity to play Breaking Boundaries back in late August at the Filament Games offices. The experience was impressive. I had to sit while my colleague played first. I sat with anticipation while she oohed and aahed over what she saw in-world.  I was a bit impatient for her to finish so I could have my turn. If you are using it with your students, be prepared for a few impatient cries of “Is it my turn yet?”

When I (finally) got to play, I could see what she was oohing and aahing about. The detail in-world was gorgeous. From the stars in the sky and bugs on the ground in Jane Goodall’s camp to the sparking equipment and dusty chalkboards of Grace Hopper’s office. Marie Curie’s lab ceiling even leaked when it rained. It was inspiring to hear their stories in their own voices. (The voice actors for Hopper and Curie were spot on.)

I didn’t get to experience it, but my colleague selected the right things to get Marie Curie herself to appear! I wanted to keep trying but, we couldn’t stay there forever.

Classroom Uses

If you have a Samsung VR or Oculus Go, I highly recommend this VR experience. It is a free download. There are lots of ways you can use this in the classroom. Full disclosure – my office at NIU worked with Filament to write the accompanying activity guide. So – check it out for ideas on using this in the classroom. You can access the resources here.  It was a lot of fun to think about all the ways to use this with students.


While we were at Filament, we had the opportunity to sit down with Dan Norton, the Cheif Creative Officer of Filament and Ethan Cayko, the producer of Breaking Boundaries. We picked their brain about all kinds of things. Everything from designing educational video games, career paths in the gaming industry, and their own paths to get them to where they are today. It was a fascinating interview with two fascinating people.

STEM Read Podcast!
STEM Read Podcast!

You can listen to our interview with them and author Jennifer L. Holm on Episode 12: Games, Goldfish, and Greatness.

I hope you and your students enjoy Breaking Boundaries in Science as much as I did!

Friday Five: Five Board Games for Your Classroom

Friday Five: Five games for your classroom.

Earlier this week I spent a fantastic day with teachers talking about Gamification, STEM Read, and Games in the classroom! It was a fun day. I mean come on, who wouldn’t want to spend the day playing games with a bunch of fun teachers. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some adult beverages. Am I right? New PD idea!!!

Anyway. I digress. Let’s talk games!

Board Games
Our game stack.

Before we started to play we talked a bit about gamification and how to incorporate game elements into the learning environment. You know, things like leaderboards, avatars (not the bending kind), point systems, rewards, themes, etc. All the things that make games fun. There are many ways to use game elements and strategies to engage students in learning. That is a whole blog post in itself. (Read more about Gamification from ISTE – 5 ways to gamify your classroom)

Today, we want to talk board games! There are sooo many to chose from. The list can be a bit overwhelming. Once you find a new game, then you have to learn how to play it. for me, that is my biggest problem. I call it Game Launch Anxiety – the fear of learning how to play a new game. So, the second half of our gaming session let us all get our hands on some games and conquer our fears together.  It was tons of fun.

We had a whole stack of fun games but here are five that are super fun and easy to connect to your classroom.

Five Games for the Classroom

  1. Bring Your Own Book – This is a “game of borrowed phrases.” Each player brings a book of their choosing. A card is drawn and the prompt asks for a phrase, such as “Something you would find in a teenager’s diary.” All the players search their books for a phrase that fits and hilarity ensues. This game is easy to learn and fun to play. I’ve even used this one to spice up teacher PD. Instead of books, we bring lesson plans. Gameplay takes about 15 minutes give or take. I think it would even be fun to play in a foreign language class. First, they find their phrase and then they have to say it in a different language.
  2. Snake Oil – Get your powers of persuasion ready for this fast-paced pitch-o-rama card game! In Snake Oil, you do your best to sell a crazy product to a specific customer.  To start the game, one player selects a customer card. All the other players select two word cards from their hand to create a crazy product. Then they sell, sell, sell! How would you sell a Lava Boat to a Rockstar or some Hug Butter to Newlyweds? The best part, each “salesperson” can pitch over each other. Let the pitch battle begin! The one who drew the customer cards chooses their favorite product and the player with the most product cards wins! This is a great game for building speaking and listening skills, creative storytelling, and persuasive or argumentative reasoning skills. Snake Oil is technically out of print so it might be harder to find but worth the hunt. 
  3. Codenames – Two teams compete to see who can contact all of their agents first using their secrete codenames. But, beware the Assasin! We played the picture version, which I loved! The cards with the codenames (or codename pictures) are placed in a grid on the table. One person from each team provides one-word clues to help their team figure out which codenames belong to their agents. This game seems easy enough but it really makes you think. This game is a good way to stretch those vocabulary skills and think about synonyms. Also, it helps students look for connections or ways to group words or ideas. It is very easy to learn and there are tons of combinations for infinite play.
  4. Doctor Panic – I did not personally play this one but we heard the commotion it caused from across the room. You and your team are doctors and you have a patient to save and communication and collaboration are key. The game lasts only 12 minutes and those 12 minutes are intense. Watch out, if your patient goes into cardiac arrest, one person has to revive them with the whoopie cushion. Yes. The whoopie cushion. This is a hilarious way to build collaboration and communication skills. Great way to start talking about medical careers too. If the sounds of laughter that were coming from our play team are any indication, this one is a riot!
  5. First Martians – This game is beautiful. However, I will confess, this is one of those that gave me Game Launch Anxiety. In First Martians, you have to survive life on the harsh red planet. It is described as an immersive experience where players play through different challenging campaigns to survive on Mars. It looks like there are several different options for how to play. I’ll admit, it looks very interesting but it has a steep learning curve. It has high reviews on Board Game Geek so it might be worth the time investment to learn how to play. If you are doing a Mars unit or reading The Martian by Andy Weir, this might be the perfect game for you. I’m going to add this one to my list of games I need to learn.

More Resources

This was such a short list. How does one only pick five when there are so many great games out there. I could go on and on. Do you have games to share? Or, do you have gamification resources and tools that you use? Share them on my Games Padlet! Leave a rating or comment too.

Made with Padlet

Share the gaming love!! I’d love to hear about how you use games in the classroom. Post in the comments.

I don’t think I said “fun” enough in this post. Fun. Fun! Fun!!

If you want to learn more about our Gamification and Games in the Classroom session, follow the link to our slide deck – 


ICE 2018 – Highlights

HotPinkTech’s highlights from the 2018 Illinois Computing Educators conference. #ICE18

The end of February is one of my favorite times of the year. No, not because of the unpredictable weather, it’s because of ICE. Not the hard water kind of ice, the Tech kind of ICE. The Illinois Computing Educators kind of ICE! The best kind of ICE.

ICE 2018 ran from Feb 26 – 28 and brought together educators, students, and vendors from across the state of Illinois and beyond. I love this conference. Every year, ICE is my chance to see old friends, meet new ones, learn about new tools and talk to and learn from inspiring educators. It is a place where I get to recharge my ed tech batteries. It is amazing. This year was even better. Three days instead of two and a brand new shiny venue. Amazing times two.

Let’s take a look at my highlight reel.


Gillian King-Cargile and me sporting our STEM Read pride.

This year I had the pleasure of doing three presentations. Two snapshot sessions (really like this format) and one breakout. Monday, I focused on personalized PD and the Illinois OER website (IOER). On Wednesday, my partner in crime, Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile), and I spread some STEM Read cheer. We had a great time telling everyone about the program and how they could bring it to their students. It was great to hear stories from teachers who have been to our field trips or who have used our resources in their classrooms. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories!

You can view the slide from all three presentations on the ICE Conference Resource Symbaloo or here in my Google Drive.

My favorite presentation of the week was from the very funny and energetic, Steve Dembo. His presentation, The Viral Video Effect: Storytelling for the YouTube Generation, made my day. It was packed full of ideas for integrating video into all classrooms. Even the littles. He shared video inspiration from favorite viral videos and discussed how to recreate the magic in your classroom. His message – don’t over complicate video production. Have fun with your students and show joy! Amen to that, Steve! He also shared what will become my new go to site for all things digital storytelling – The Digital storytelling DS106 assignment bank. Find it here – This is a huge list of video assignments. Check it out. I know I am going to dig in.

Shout Outs – Friends and Favorites

One of my favorite parts of ICE is that I get to reconnect with so many of my educator friends across the state. It is like homecoming week. This year was no different. I also get to see what some of my favorite ed tech products and services are up to. Here is a quick list of shout outs to a few of my favorite products and services. If they are new to you, I strongly suggest you follow the links and check them out.

zSpace, BrainPOP, CG Cookie, Common Sense Media
Love them! zSpace, BrainPOP, CG Cookie, Common Sense Media
  • zSpace – I first encountered zSpace a couple years ago (before they had a bus). This is a twist on AR/VR that is truly interactive and collaborative (which I love!). There is also a growing bank of learning resources.
  • BrainPOP – If you are not using all of the games, videos and resources on BrainPOP, stop what you are doing and go check it out. Go do it now. I’ll wait….
  • CG Cookie – CG Cookie is an online art education platform. Through their courses, you can learn 3D production, game design, clay sculpturing and more. Pricing is reasonable for access to all the amazing content.
  • Common Sense Media – Common Sense Media has valuable ratings, reviews and resources for parents, educators, and advocates. They are one of my first stops when I’m researching a new app or game. I also LOVE their Digital Citizenship curriculum. It is fantastic! If you have not explored their FREE resources, you need to.
  • IlliniCloud – They are not pictured, but I need to give them a shout out. IlliniCloud is a co-op of school across Illinois focused on providing tech solutions for K-12 districts. They always have cool projects in the works, such as eSports but I’ll get to that shortly.

New Tools to Explore

ICE is where all the latest and greatest ed tech struts their stuff. I always come home with new tools to explore and this year was no different. Here is my list of tools that I will be digging into over the next few weeks.

  • Empatico & Participate – I’m listing these two together because they shared booth space and are some how related. However, they each have very different purposes. Empatico is a free tool for teachers that will help them connect their classroom to other classrooms around the world. Looks like a virtual pen-pal program with tons more interaction. Empatico is supported by the KIND Foundation (yes, the healthy snack bar company). Participate on the other hand, is focused on teacher PD and learning communities.
  • Nearpod – OK, so I’m a little late to the Nearpod party but it sounds like the party is still going strong. If you are new to Nearpod, like me, it is a platform for developing and managing interactive lessons across multiple devices. It includes a wide variety of content from both internal developers and 3rd party content providers such as Flocabulary, iCivics, PhET, and more. I was really excited to see their new college and career materials that even include virtual field trips to college campuses. Nearpod is definitely on my list of tools to explore in depth.
  • Bloxels – OK, now this one looks like a blast and I may need to invest in a kit. When I walked by the booth it looked like a simple black board with little cubes to create pixel art. That caught my attention so I decided to stop. What this is, is a kit that allows students to create their own video games. They create their art using the boards, snap a picture, and use the app to create their game. (See the image below.) This looks like a super easy way to do game development and one I’m excited to try.
Bloxels - How it works.
Bloxels – How it works.

The Buzz – The rise of the gamer!

Every year at ICE there is something that is creating a buzz. This year, you could not go anywhere without hearing about playful learning, gaming, and eSports. From board games to video games, the art of playing is hot right now.

Sample of games from Red Raccoon Games.
Sample of games from Red Raccoon Games.

In the Playful Learning Space (read more about it here), Red Raccoon Games, from Bloomington-Normal, IL, had a fantastic selection of board games that you could stop and play. I played a spirited round of Codenames, with a couple cool teachers and talked about all the ways you could use it in the classroom. They had everything from Settlers of Catan to Happy Salmon there for you to play and discuss.

I’ve added quite a few games to my wish list.

eSports made a big splash this year. The eSports session on Monday kicked things off with a few high school teams playing some head to head League of Legends. We heard from Illinois coaches and students about what they are doing with their eSports clubs. We even heard from one student who has an eSports college scholarship. Wow! There were several other eSports sessions and a gaming center set up in the Playful Learning Space. The push is to get schools out there to register their club on the IHSA Emerging Sports website to make eSports a recognized sport in Illinois.

eSports teams talk about their experiences and play League of Legends.

For all you young gamers out there…this is your time. Grab it by the controllers and have a blast!

So, we say good bye ICE 2018 and all the old and new friends we connected with along the way. As always, it was a fantastic conference. I loved the new venue and longer time we spent together. Well done, ICE planning committee. Well done!

Now we start the countdown to ISTE 2018 in Chicago, baby!! See you all again in June!

Speaking ISTE

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 30 Lightbot

Get ready for CSED week and Hour of Code with LightBot.

Day 30: Lightbot

First off, Day 30! Whoo Hoo!

Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s talk coding. Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code are just around the corner (December 4 – 10). Next week, people all over the world will play games, create games, program robots, and engage in a whole host of activities as they explore the world of computer science, computational thinking, and coding. There are many, many different websites and apps out there that will help you and your students join in the Hour of Code fun. One such app is LightBot.

Use the symbols to move the robot and light the tiles.
Use the symbols to move the robot and light the tiles.

LightBot is a puzzle game where you help a cute little robot light all the blue tiles on the screen. The game teaches you how to program as you use icons to create sequences that will move your robot around the puzzle board. Seems simple enough, right? The gameplay is easy but the puzzles do take some careful thinking. I’ll admit, it took me a couple tries to get past level three. Yes, I use to write code. No, don’t judge me.

As you solve the puzzles, you are learning programming logic and terms such as sequences, procedures, and loops. Your little robot friend is there to help you along the way with just-in-time support and guidance. Program your solution by touching the symbols and creating your sequence. Press play to run your solution.

Little robot introduces new vocabulary as you move through the game levels.
Little robot introduces new vocabulary as you move through the game levels.


It is available for Windows and Macs as well as pretty much every mobile platform. The app costs $2.99 or $4.99 depending on your platform. LightBox is geared for ages 9 and up. There is also a LightBot Jr app for the younger coders. For those of you not ready to commit to that type of cash, check out the FREE LightBox: Code Hour version.

Teacher Resources

Not quite sure how LightBot puzzles connect to learning how to code? They have a quick guide that explains how their games introduce students to programming logic. They also have additional resources covering topics like how to use LightBox for Hour of Code and some lesson plans. It’s not a huge number of resources but there is good information about teaching programming in the classroom.

LightBot and the free LightBot Code Hour are cute and fun little games that cover some complex programming concepts. You and your students will enjoy this game. It is a great addition to your Hour of Code toolbox.

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 24 Classcraft

Day 24: Classcraft

Learning is an adventure. As educators, we want all of our learners to have an adventure that is truly epic. All seasoned adventurers know that success greatly depends on having the right gear in your inventory. Classcraft is definitely one of those tools you should not leave behind as you and your learners embark on your quest. If you have not yet heard of Classcraft, then you must have spent the past few years living in the Misty Mountains of Isolation. Classcraft is an online platform that helps you gamify your classroom and engage your learners in their learning adventure. Why gamification? Read their informative article to learn more about the theory behind the design. Why Gamification Article.Classcraft Demo class class list

With Classcraft, your students take on the role of Warrior, Healer, or Mage and work together in teams to increase their stats through quests, random events, boss battles (formative assessments), assignments, and IRL challenges and behaviors. Learners can customize their avatars and earn gear as they collaborate with their teams to learn in your classroom. Classcraft lets you, the teacher and game master, control the game by setting up game rules and custom attributes for each character and designing engaging learning quests. You can even invite parents along for the adventure. They can follow along or play an active role in the classroom by awarding points at home.

Classcraft has a free version and a subscription-based version for $8/month or $1500 per year per district. The free version has enough features for you to gamify classroom management and get your students working together in teams. The subscription-based version, however, adds a whole new dimension to your classroom. With your subscription, you can access Classcraft’s newest features. Such as:

Send your learners on a learning quest with custom interactive learning maps. They face new tasks as they move through the map.
  • Unlimted gear for your students.
  • Gamify your curriculum with custom quests and boss battles.
  • Monitor student achievement with learning analytics.

The district version adds additional administrative resources and dashboards to help you manage district-level initiatives and set up district-wide game rules.

Normally, I go for the free version of the tools. I’m just kind of cheap that way. However, if you want to redesign your classroom into a choose-your-own learning adventure for your students, the paid version has some amazing elements. See the pricing comparison here for a list of all the free and paid features. $1500 a year for a district is not too bad. Also, the Classcraft team has info on how to crowdfund your subscription.

For all you novice game masters out there, Classcraft has developed an extensive knowledge center where you can find support resoruces such as tutorial videos, professional development opportunities, and a teacher forum so you can connect with other game masters. Additional resources on the site include a downloadable guide on bullying prevention and a PBIS Handbook.

I love the fantasy-themed environment the Classcraft team has developed. (Granted, this is coming from a girl who has had a long time crush on a certain honorable Drow with an astral panther companion.) However, the fantasy theme might not be everyone’s cup of mead. I would love to see if there are other platforms out there with a more sci-fi Starcrafty theme or some other genre. In short, the Classcraft team has created an excellent immersive platform to help you level up your classroom. Register for your free account and get your game on today!

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 19 Blendoku

Day 19: Blendoku

Sometimes extensive traveling makes you look for things to help you pass the time. That was the case for me this weekend as I sat on a train, exhausted from a long week, needing something to occupy my mind so I didn’t fall asleep and snore. I stumbled upon a fun addictive game that is new to me but has been around for a while, Blendoku by Lonely Few.

Blendoku deals with patterns and sequencing much like a Sudoku game but instead of numbers, you are working with basic color theory and how different colors blend. I love the art and color theory aspect of this game.

In Blendoku you are given a grid where one or more squares are filled with color. You need to use your color pallet to fill out the rest of your grid. The new colors must be in the right order to show how the colors would blend. Seems simple enough and the easy levels are fairly easy to complete. However, I will admit that a couple of them had me stumped for a while. The hard levels are really hard. Not only are there more squares to fill but there are more colors and slight changes in the tone and hue. The addictive nature of the game helped me pass the time on the train. Haven’t beat the game yet but if I ever do, Blendoku 2 is already on my phone waiting.  (For a more intense challenge, try Lonely Few’s timed color challenge called Chroma Rush. Next on my download list.)

Blendoku is a free app that works on both iOS and Android. You can play it on your phone, however, the hardest levels are recommended for tablets because the grid gets really small.

Easy Level
Hard Level









Watch the Blendoku 2 trailer from Lonely Few to get an idea of the gameplay.

So, what does a simple little game like Blendoku have to do with educational technology and why would I choose to highlight it on this blog. Simple – puzzle games are a great way to build students’ problem-solving skills. Puzzle-based learning is a popular way to increase students mathematical and computational thinking skills as well as creative and critical thinking needed for a wide variety of careers including Math, engineering, and computer science. (Check out this website to learn more about Puzzle-based Learning.)

If you are more excited about colors than numbers but still want to challenge your mind with an addictive pattern and sequencing puzzle like Sudoku, then Blendoku and Blendoku 2 are worth the download. A couple great free games for students to play and build those problem-solving skills.

Now please excuse me as I try to level up.