Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on learning games.

Executive Functioning Game: In or Out

I’m so pleased to announce the release of my new Publication: Executive Functioning Game: In or Out!  It is the first of a series of executive functioning games that I have been creating over the past six months.
Card Descriptions: 
All 30 cards include two images: an inner image and an outer image. There are six images: a car, a light bulb, an alien, a raindrop, a flower and a hand. In addition, there are five different colors: yellow, red, blue, green and purple. It is a complex matching game that requires players to remember and utilize rules to search for commonalities amongst cards. The black symbol in the middle of the inner image directs players to look at the inner image or the outer image. Then players compare cards from their deck to the image in the discard pile. The black cat is simply a distractor and has no other purpose in the game.

What Population of Learners Does This Serve?


In or Out is a fabulously fun game for anyone, but it also serves as a cognitive, remedial tool that strengthens executive functioning skills: working memory, attention to detail, management of distractions, stamina, response inhibition, as well as mental shifting and sustained attention. For remedial purposes, this game can benefit individuals with ADHD, learning disabilities, executive functioning disorder as well as those with head injuries and the elderly.

For 1 to 3 Players:
Initially, I play the game with my students and verbalize the process. I slowly scaffold the process over to them. Once they have it, we play against one another.

Where Can I Purchase the Game?
The game is presently available @ Good Sensory Learning as a digital download. I am looking into printing decks of cards, and they will eventually be available on Amazon.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Using Tiled Floor to Create a Coordinate Plan Game

I love to use stairs and tiled floors when teaching math concepts.  In fact, I integrate as much movement and games as possible into my lessons with students.  This week, I will present my rationale and share a specific kinesthetic and playful strategy for teaching the coordinate plane.

________________________
Although many educators recognize the connection between learning, movement and games, many dismiss the correlation once children get beyond first and second grade.   I propose we are never to old to move and play!

Movement Improves Learning for 4 Reasons:
  1. It feeds the brain by increasing blood flow and oxygen.
  2. It improves attention, alertness and motivation by uniting the brain and body.
  3. It helps nerve cells to bind together, which is the basis for learning new information.
  4. It triggers the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus which is an area of the brain that is used for memory and learning.
Games and “Play” Boosts Learning:
Studies also suggest that when students engage in academic games, they become more excited about school and their learning increases.  In fact, by uniting movement and games with the curriculum students can encode new content on a body or cellular level.  Body memory suggests that the body is capable of storing memories in organs, whereas cellular memory suggests that memories are stored in the cells of our bodies.  
A Coordinate Plane Game:
Here is an easy, kinesthetic game that can be used to help students master the coordinate plane.

Set-up

  • Ask two student volunteers to use masking tape to designate the X and Y axis of the coordinate plane on a tiled floor.  
  • Next, ask two or more students to write the numbers on the X and Y axis.  Finally, challenge another to define the four quadrants.  

Game

  • Break the class into two groups (Group 1 and Group 2).  
  • Hand each group 16 index cards (you can play with more or less cards – depending on the number of students in the class).  
  • Ask the group members to write out four points for each quadrant such as (-3, 5).  
  • Check the stack of cards for accuracy and then ask a student to shuffle and swap the cards with the other group.  
  • Ask Group One to begin the game.  One at a time, each member of the group will select a card from the deck and stand on the designated point on the coordinate plane.  If there are not enough students to stand in the coordinate plane, then the index cards can be placed on the designated points.  Group One will discontinue play when they have at least two players (index cards) in each of the four quadrants.  
  • Ask Group One to add up the number of points they plotted on the coordinate plane.  
  • Clear the coordinate plane for Group 2.  
  • Ask Group Two to repeat the same process.
  • The winner of the game is the group that plotted the fewest number of points on the coordinate plane.
Clearly, teachers who require students to remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal learning conditions.  By adding movement and games, students will maintain engagement and energy levels and provide oxygen-rich blood to their brains for highest learning performance.
If you would like to learn more about the research behind this, check out the book: Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2nd Edition:

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Remediating Dyslexia with Orton Gillingham Based Reading Games

Students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities often learn differently and require an alternative approach to learning basic reading.  What’s more, these young learners are working full tilt while sitting in the classroom and by the time they get home and have to complete their homework, they are mentally spent.  As a result, tagging on remedial reading lessons to a cup that is already overflowing can be enough to turn these kids off to learning altogether.

How Do We Help These Students Learn the Core Skills Needed to be Successful Readers?

  1. First, use a remedial program that is backed by time, testimonials and research.  The Orton-Gillingham approach to reading is a well-established and researched approach that offers a multisensory, sequential, incremental, cumulative, individualized, and explicit approach.  There are many programs that are available.  Click here to learn about a selection of these programs. 
  2. Second, employ an individualized approach as each student has unique challenges and gaps in knowledge.  If you need to assess the areas that require remediation be sure to use an assessment tool such as the Good Sensory Learning Reading Assessment
  3. Third, the process needs to be fun and engaging.  Many programs required students to slog through boring lessons, complicated rules, and bland workbook pages. Many of these concepts can be instructed through cute memory strategies and fun activities.  You can find many fun supplemental materials here
  4. Fourth, integrate a student-created, colorful, language arts handbook or guide. Click here to learn more about this method. 
  5. Fifth, help students learn how to visualize what they are reading.  Many struggling readers do not have the cognitive space to use their mind’s eye when reading, therefore, developing this skill to automaticity is key.  To learn about the research behind visualization and learning as well as how to teach this needed skill click here.  
  6. Sixth, and most important, supplement all reading programs with card and board games that allow students to practice the concepts they are learning.  This brings the fun factor into learning and can help to nurture a love for reading.
Where Can I Find Multisensory and Fun Reading Games?
At Good Sensory Learning, we offer a large selection of downloadable card and board games that work with any Orton-Gillingham or phonics based reading program.  In addition, we have many other supplemental multisensory reading activities and materials.  In fact, we just unveiled a new website. Let me know what you think!

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Letter Cube Fun: Freebie Language Arts Game

I love to use foam blocks for all sorts of language arts fun.  Most recently, I created a game that my students adore.  Here are the steps so you can create it too.

1) You can purchase colorful foam cubes on Amazon for a very reasonable price.  I included a link at the bottom of the post.

2) Select 12 cubes.  I line the cubes up in a row and write all the vowels in capital letters (including “y”) on each cube two times making sure not to place the same vowel on a single cube more than once.  Then I add the consonants as suggested below.

3) I assign the point value on the bottom right hand corner.  This will also help the players to orient the letters.  For example the letter P will look like the letter d when it is upside-down but as long as the number indicating the point value is in the bottom right hand corner, players can recognize that they need to rotate the letter to the proper orientation.  Also, using capital letters helps with letter confusion.

4) Other items needed to play:  a timer and a set of 12 colored cubes with the letters and point values for each player.
5) To Play:

  • Each player rolls their set of 12 colored cubes onto their playing area (they can not change the orientation of the cubes but must use the letters rolled.  
  • Set and begin timer for 2-5 minutes.  You can decide the amount of time you like.
  • Words must crisscross like a scrabble game, and players must try to use as many cubes as they can.  
  • When the timer goes off, the play ends and players add up their points.
  • Bonuses as granted as follows:
    • 4 points for a 6 letter word
    • 5 points for a 7 letter word
    • 6 points for a 8 letter word
    • 5 points for using all 12 cubes

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Eight, Dyslexia Games Make All Reading Programs Fun and Memorable

Do you ever have to bribe your students with candy or stickers to entice them to read through long lists of words or complete workbook activities?  There are a multitude of phonics and Orton-Gillingham based reading programs available on the market, but so many of them place struggling readers through boring drills and activities.  I experienced the same problem.  What could I do?

I Created Games to Bring the Fun Factor into My Lessons:
Over the past few years, I created a system to make any reading program fun and motivating.  I designed and published board and card games to weave into reading lessons.  Now, my students can’t wait for their sessions, are reading more, have increased stamina and they are mastering concepts at a faster pace.  A series of three reading game publication bundles have been available and selling like hot cakes, but upon popular request, I have released a new title, Reading Games Primary.  This publication offers new games that help students master basic reading concepts such as syllables, rhyming words, short vowel sounds, ending sound blends and sight words by playing super fun and engaging card and board games.  

Tell Me More About the 8 Games:

  1. Sight Word War:  

    Sight Word War is a card game
    that helps students master sight words and practice basic alphabetizing
    skills.  

  2. Syllable Sort:  Syllable Sort is a card game that helps students master syllable divisions in words.
  3. Switch-A-Roo Reading: Switch-A-Roo Reading is a reading/writing game that helps students learn beginning, middle and ending word sounds
    as well as rhyming words. 
  4. Sole Survivor:  Sole Survivor is a board game that helps
    students master breaking words into syllables as well as beginning and ending word
    sounds.
  5. Animal Party:  Animal Party is a board game that helps students learn beginning, middle and end sounds of simple three letter words.
  6. Animal Bingo:  Animal Bingo is a board game that helps
    students master breaking words into syllables as well as beginning and ending word
    sounds.  It also develops tracking and
    counting skills.
  7. Three of A Kind Beginners:  Three of a Kind is a card game that
    helps students learn rhyming words, beginning sounds, middle sounds and ending
    sounds of simple three letter words. 
  8. Three of A Kind Intermediate:  Three of a Kind Intermediate is a card game
    that helps students master rhyming words, beginning blends, middle sounds and
    ending sounds of simple four to five letter words.  
Are There Other Reading Games?
Yes.  Reading Games Primary is my fourth bundle of reading games to be published.  In fact, I have created more than 50 different games for all levels of reading remediation.  To learn more about all of these games and even download a free sample game,  click here.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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10 Great Games for Students with Dyslexia

With the holiday season almost upon us, finding fun and beneficial educational materials can be key for keeping students with dyslexia busy over the break.  What’s more, you can continue to use these activities throughout the year to help remediate areas of difficulty. Games can be one of the best ways to help these kids, especially because struggling learners won’t even know that their brains are hard at work!

Holiday Gift:
One of my favorite games, Puppy Party, helps students to master the short vowels sounds and is great for any Orton-Gillingham or phonics based reading program.   CLICK HERE to get your free downloadable copy!

Ten Great Games to Buy for Kids with Dyslexia:

  1. Hey What’s the Big Idea: This is a fun, family game that teaches children how to generate and discriminate between main ideas and details.
  2. Word Shuffle: Word Shuffle is a fabulous word game that strengthens processing speed and language skills.  With three levels – elementary, middle school and high school, students will master concepts like rhyming words, grammar, parts of speech, figurative language and literary terms. 
  3. 5 Ws Detective:  This delightful sentence game develops language skills, sequencing, word retrieval and helps beginning writers solve silly cases by answering who did it, what they did, when it was done, and why it happened.  Players work against the clock to fill in the data and summarize their findings.     
  4. Reading Games:  Great for any Orton-Gillingham or Phonics based reading program, Reading Games offers 11 games, 17 printable decks and two printable board games that work on the different types of syllables, syllabication, affixes and compound words.
  5. Reading Games 2: Like Reading Games, these games work seamlessly with any Orton-Gillingham or Phonics based reading program.  These games focus on blending and spelling.  
  6. Reading Board Games:  Orton-Gillingham or Phonics friendly, Reading Board Games offers 7 reproducible board games that cover the 6 syllable types as well as syllabication. 
  7. Piggy Banking: This engaging board game helps players learn how to use a debit card, bank register and to write checks.  They will also learn about bank loans, bounced checks, discounts, tips, rebased, interest and more.  
  8. Place Value Panic: With 4 games ranging in difficulty level, Place Value Panic is loads of fun. The simplest game works on the ones, tens, hundreds and thousands place, whereas the most difficult level uses 13 place values. 
  9. Show Don’t Tell:   Show Don’t Tell is a fun, multisensory writing game that helps players to “show readers” with descriptive verbs, adjectives, adverbs, similes, metaphors and personification.  Instead of telling stories, learners will quickly master descriptive writing.
  10. Grammar Games Galore: Grammar Games Galore offers 5 new and engaging card games that help players master the parts of speech.   
I wish you and your family a wonderful, fun-filled holiday season.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Teaching Grammar: Games Reinforce the Parts of Speech

Many high school graduates report weak grammar skills, and they claim that they had little instruction in this area of academics. In fact, poor grammar deters many from communicating in writing, but when they do put pen to paper, mistakes can leave a negative impression. What’s more, although many are cognizant of this gap of knowledge, most never find the time to master this skill. Even today, very few students experience comprehensive instruction in this area.  Clearly, this is a curriculum oversight that needs to be addressed.

Why Should Students Learn Grammar?

  1. It offers a deep understanding and appreciation for our language.
  2. Excellent grammar on important documents such as a college entrance essays or job applications can reflect favorably on your candidacy. 
  3. It gives individuals the tools to be mindful, confident writers.
  4. It teaches the logic behind written language.
  5. It will improve grades in virtually all subject areas.
  6. It will improve scores on college entrance exams.
Grammar Can Be Tough to Learn:

I’m the first to admit that grammar is not easy.  This is true for a number of reasons:

  1. There are a lot of rules to learn and exceptions to master.
  2. The English language generated from a number of diverse languages such as Old English, Norman French and Latin.  This creates complexities in the learning process as well as exceptions to rules.
  3. The English language changes as our society accepts new shifts in linguistic rules.  American English is constantly morphing with the influence of modern twists grown from new ideas, concepts and informal words and phrases that become commonplace.  For example, ending a sentence in a preposition was once considered poor grammar, however, now it is generally accepted. 
  4. Our culture often takes shortcuts such as the use of contractions and our pronunciations change with the insertion or deletion of sounds.  For example, in Britain, they spell the word color, colour.
  5. The American English language does not have a designated authority to clarify the “rules” behind our language, and you will find that teacher expectations are diverse and disagreement upon rules is common. 
What Can We Do to Make Grammar More Appealing to Learn?

  1. Focus on the basics of grammar that we all agree upon.
  2. Use engaging activities.
  3. Reinforce knowledge with grammar games.
If you would like to learn more about my most recent publication, Grammar Games Galore, just click on the prior link or the image to your right.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Ten, Fun Games that Strengthen Visual Processing

Visual processing is an important cognitive skill for children to develop, and there are many fun games that help to strengthen this skill.  

What is Visual Processing and Why is it Important?
Visual processing is a visual cognitive skill that allows us to process and interpret meaning from the visual information that we see through our eyes, and it plays an important role in reading, math, and spelling.  

What Are the Cognitive Skills that Make up Visual Processing
Visual processing involves a number of cognitive components:

  1. Visual Processing Speed: the ability to process visual
    information at a rapid pace.
  2. Visual
    Scanning: 
    the ability to look at and absorb all parts of visual information
    and text.
  3. Visual Spatial
    Skills:
    the ability to mentally manipulate
    2-dimensional and 3-dimensional figures.
  4. Visual Spatial Reasoning: the ability
    to perceive the spatial relationships between objects.
  5. Visual Construction Skills: the ability to organize and
    manually manipulate spatial information to make a design.  
  6. Visual Memory: the ability to remember what is seen.
  7. Visual Motor
    Integration:
    the ability to translate visual perception into motor planning,
    sequencing, control, coordination and speed.
  8. Visual Synthesis: the ability to unite visual information into a coherent whole. 
  9. Visual Sequencing: the ability to determine or remember the order of symbols, words, or objects.
  10. Visual Closure: the ability to make sense of visual information when some of the image is missing.
  11. Visual Reasoning: the ability to find meaning and make sense out of visual information.
What Are Some Games that Can Help to Develop These Skills?
  1. Set: Set is a card game of recognition and deduction. Each card contains one of three symbols (squiggles, diamonds, ovals) in varying numbers (up to three), colors (purple, green, red), and degrees of shading. A player arranges 12 cards, face up, and all the players quickly discriminate “sets” of three cards linked by combinations of sameness or difference. This game works on visual discrimination, processing speed, reasoning, sequencing, and visual scanning.
  2. Tricky Fingers: Who can match the pattern card first?  Non-removable marbles are manipulated.  This game works on visual processing speed, motor integration, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  3. Spot it: Spot it is played with 55 cards, each decorated with eight symbols varying in size and orientation. The object of the game is to be the first to spot the one symbol in common between two or more cards. This game works on visual processing speed, scanning, motor integration, discrimination and memory.
  4. Logic Links: Each puzzle is comprised of a series of clues that instruct the player where to place colored chips to solve a puzzle. This game works on visual reasoning, sequencing, and visual scanning.
  5. Blokus: The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces onto the board. The player who gets rid of all of their tiles first is the winner. This game works on visual motor integration, reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  6. Pixy Cubes: Pixy Cubes uses challenge cards for players to match or they can design colorful pictures with 16 colorful cubes.  This game works on visual motor integration, memory, processing speed, spatial reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  7. Q-Bits: Q-bitz will challenge your visual agility. Players puzzle over how to quickly recreate the patterns on the game cards using their set of 16 cubes. This game works on visual motor integration, processing speed, spatial reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  8. Q-Bits Extreme: This is the same game as Q-Bits, but the cubes are not all the same and the puzzles are more challenging. This game works on visual motor integration, processing speed, spatial reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  9. Blink: Blink is a quick game where two players race to be the first to use all their cards. Players quickly match cards by the shape, count, or color on the cards. The first player out of cards wins.  This works on visual processing speed, discrimination and scanning.





I hope you found this helpful.  If you know of other card or board games that you find benefit visual processing, please share them below.  


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Over 120 of the Best, Free, Online, Educational Games

Many parents and teachers limit computer time as many young learners get addicted to mindless computer games that reinforce all the wrong behaviors such as impulsivity and guessing.  However, there is a huge selection of wonderful educational and cognitive games available to young learners that can both strengthen areas of weakness and also teach difficult concepts. Over the past decade, I have created descriptions and links to some of my favorite games for my students on my Learning to Learn website.  In addition, I have organized them under the following categories: Cognitive Games, General Education Games, Writing and Language Games, Social Studies Games, Science Games, Spelling Games, Reading Games, Digital Story Telling, Math Games, Grammar Games, Typing Games, Social Skills, and Sequencing.  In an effort to “spread the word,” I’m providing a link to my page so others can benefit from these beneficial games too.

To view all these games CLICK HERE

If you know of other free games that improve cognition or learning, please leave them in the comments below.  I will be sure to check them out and add them to this growing resource.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz

More Games that Benefit the Brain: A Review

If you have been reading my blogs, you know I’m a big fan of bringing the fun factor into learning.  In fact, did you know there are many games that can improve cognitive functioning?  Kids love to play card and board games, and there are quite a few that exercise and strengthen the brain. Back in September I reviewed 15 games that can benefit cognition and I wanted to add a few more to the list:

Game:
Cognitive Benefits
Where to Purchase
Rat-A-Tat-Cat:
·
Visual Processing
·
Visual Memory
·
Planning
·
Attention
·
Working Memory
Amazon: See link below
Q-Bits – Extreme:
·
Visual Processing
·
Spatial Relations
·
Speed of Processing
·
Attention to Detail
·
Mental Flexibility
·
Executive Functioning
·
Perceptual Reasoning
Amazon: See link below
Duple:
·
Visual Processing
·
Word Finding
·
Processing Speed
·
Hemisphere Integration
·
Attention to Details
Amazon: See link below
Stare:
·
Visual Memory
·
Speed of Processing
·
Metacognitive Skills
·
Attention to Details
Amazon: See link below
Color Code:
·
Visual Processing
·
Nonverbal Reasoning
·
Spatial Relations
·
Planning
·
Perceptual Reasoning
Amazon: See link below
No Speed Limit:
·
Processing Speed
·
Visual Processing
·
Visual Memory
·
Executive Functioning
·
Perceptual Reasoning
Amazon: See link below
Qwitch:
·
Mental Flexibility
·
Sequential Processing
·
Speed of Processing
·
Working Memory
·
Hemisphere Integration
Amazon: See link below
Anomia:
·
Word Finding
·
Processing Speed
·
Hemisphere Integration
·
Attention to Details
Amazon: See link below
Speedabee:
·
Word Finding
·
Speed of Processing
·
Mental Flexibility
·
Listening Skills
·
Auditory Processing
·
Verbal Reasoning
Amazon: See link below

I hope you found this useful.  If you know of other card or board games, that you would like me to review, please share them in the comment box below.  

 


Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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