Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on learning games.

Games that Benefit the Brain

Most kids love to play card and board games, but did you
know that many offer benefits far beyond the obvious social gains.  Many of these activities are actually good
for cognition and can exercise the brain.

There are
three types of benefits:
1.  Brain Breaks: Some games offer quick “brain
breaks” that can be used during homework completion.  A quick reward, when stamina is low, can energize the brain and regain focus. 
2.  Brain Integration: Other games can help
integrate the brain.  Some students
can lack integration between the two hemispheres of the brain and these
activities activate the whole brain. 
3.  Cognitive Remediation: Finally,
there are games that help to strengthen specific areas of cognition and they
can serve as a form of cognitive therapy. 
By exercising these parts of the brain, new neural pathways can develop
and areas of weakness can be strengthened and even remediated.

Here is a table that reviews some of my favorite games, lists of the cognitive gains and offers links to the products.

GAME: Time to
Play
COGNITIVE
BENEFITS
WHERE TO PURCHASE
Spot it:  about 2-4 minutes

  • Visual
    Processing
  • Processing
    Speed
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Attention
  • Hemisphere Integration
Amazon:  See link below
Blink:   about 2-4 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Processing
    Speed
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Nonverbal Reasoning
Amazon:  See link below
Set:  about 5-10 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Speed of
    Processing
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
Amazon:  See link below
Q Bits:  depends on the number of rounds played – 2-30 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Spatial
    Relations
  • Speed of
    Processing
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
Amazon:  See link below
Master Mind:  depends on the number of rounds played – 10-30 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Visual
    Reasoning
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Doodle Dice: about 15 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Spatial
    Relations
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Blokus: about 30-45 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Spatial
    Relations
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Logic Links: depends on the number of
rounds played – 3-30 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
  • Attention to
    Detail
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Word Around Game:  depends on the number of rounds played – 5-30 minutes
  • Visual
    Processing
  • Verbal
    Reasoning
  • Sequential
    Processing
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Scattergories the Card Game: depends on the number of rounds played –
5-30 minutes
  • Simultaneous
    Processing
  • Word Finding
  • Speed of
    Processing
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Scattergories the Board Game: depends on the
number of rounds played – 5-30 minutes
  • Simultaneous
    Processing
  • Word Finding
  • Speed of
    Processing
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility
  • Executive
    Functioning
Amazon:  See link below
Pictionary: depends on the number of rounds played-
5-60 minutes
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
  • Verbal
    Reasoning
  • Fine Motor
    Dexterity
  • Speed of
    Processing

Amazon:  See link below

Apples to Apples: depends on the number of
rounds played- 10-30 minutes
  • Verbal
    Reasoning
  • Attention
  • Mental
    Flexibility

Amazon:  See link below

Cranium: depends on the number of rounds played –
5-30 minutes

  • Auditory Processing
  • Visual Processing
  • Processing Speed
  • Attention to Detail
  • Attention
  • Hemisphere Integration
  • Fine Motor
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Sequential Processing

Amazon:  See link below

Jenga – depends on the number of rounds played-
5-30 minutes
  • Fine Motor
    Dexterity
  • Motor
    Planning
  • Nonverbal
    Reasoning
Amazon:  See link below




I hope you found this helpful.  If you know of other card or board games that you find beneficial, please share them in the comment box below.  I will then update this blog to reflect your ideas.


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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Free Key Word Race Game:

Copyright, 2013 http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/
Math word problems stump a
lot of students, as they have difficulty figuring out how to change a sentence
of words into a mathematical problem. 
For many, the stumbling block is recognizing and remembering the
different key words that signify mathematical operations such as addition,
subtraction, multiplication and division. 
I’m continually trying to craft fun activities that make the process fun
and memorable.  Most recently, I
created the Key Word Race Party Game, that I thought I would share. 

Materials needed:  
     1)   
Colorful plastic
eggs
     2)   
2-5 buckets,
bowls, shoe boxes or other medium to large containers
     3)   
Spoons
Preparation:
     1)   
Place the
keywords you are reviewing onto colorful plastic eggs.  If you are playing with more than one
player or team, make multiple sets. 
Each set should be labeled with numbers on the bottom of the eggs to
designate team one, team two and so forth.   This will also help sort the eggs for the next play.
     2)   
Label medium to
large containers such as buckets or shoe boxes with two or more of the
following:  Addition, Subtraction,
Multiplication, Division, and Equals.
How to Play:
Break the class into teams
or pairs.  Place the labeled containers
on one side of the room and have the players on the other side of the room.  Provide each team with a set of labeled
plastic eggs and a spoon.  Instruct
the players that they need to take each plastic egg and place it on a
spoon.  Then, each player needs to
race over to the containers, without dropping the egg, and sort his or her egg
into the correct container that classifies the keyword written on the egg.  If the player drops the egg, he or she
must collect the egg and start the process over again.  Once the player gets the egg into the
correct container, he or she races back and tags a team member who then repeats
the process.  The teacher stands at
the site of the containers to assure that the eggs are placed in the correct location.  If not, the student must go back with
the egg and try again.  Once a team
has sorted all the eggs, they must raise their hands to win the game. 
Please note that you can play
this game with a single student. 
Have the student compete against himself or herself by trying to beat his
or her best score.  In addition, you
can also play this game outside. 
If you would like to learn
about some of my other popular games 
for sale.  Go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com. There, you can 
even download freebies on some of my product
pages.
I hope you enjoy these
games!!  I would love to hear you thoughts.
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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

108 Online Games that Offer Cognitive or Educational Benefits

Over the years, I have scoured the internet for great, online games.  I am a learning specialist, and if I
can get my students involved in activities that benefit cognition and
learning, then they can expand their potential and also find joy in the
process.   I have each of the
games described and linked on the website for my private practice.  In addition, the games are categorized under
the following headings, so that it is easy to find the needed resources:  cognitive, general
education, writing and language, social studies, science, spelling, reading, digital
story telling, math, grammar, typing, social skills, and sequencing.
So, I wanted to share this link with other teachers and
families.  CLICK HERE  
I hope you find it useful.  I would love to hear your thoughts!  Also, if you have any other sites that
you like, let me know and I will be happy to place them on the page. 
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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Show Don’t Tell: A Descriptive Writing Game

Descriptive writing enables the author to paint scenes and
characters in the mind’s eye of the reader.  Like an artist, carefully selected, colorful words can
convey vivid imagery, but only if the author learns to “show” and not “tell” the audience.  Learning how to use illustrative adjectives, action verbs, graphic adverbs, expressive
metaphors, vivid similes and showy personification is the key to writing engaging stories.  What’s more is it makes the process of writing a lot more fun!

Concrete learners or students that struggle with
visualization or language processing can find descriptive writing difficult to
learn.  They can also find the learning process boring and tedious.  As a result, I created a
game to help make descriptive writing both enjoyable and memorable.


 
Show Don’t Tell: A Fabulously Fun Descriptive Writing Game, by Dr. Erica Warren at Good Sensory Learning, will walk you
through the process.  You will be
amazed at the beautiful paragraphs that players of all ages will create. 
Copyright 2013
Come learn more by clicking here
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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Using Beach Balls for Comprehension

I just love to use balls for teaching students.  It’s a great way to accommodate and engage your kinesthetic and tactile learners, and it always brings the fun factor into your lesson!  I often purchase beach balls at the dollar store and use permanent markers to write down different, reading, writing, grammar, and math concepts.  

Here are a few things that I use balls for:

  • parts of speech
  • multiplication
  • touch math
  • vowel combinations
  • types of sentences
  • letters
  • blending
  • writing prompts

But for those of you who would like to buy ready made options, I just came across these nifty products on Amazon.  I included the links below.  

If you use balls for other lessons, please share your ideas.

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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Free Reading and Spelling Game for the TCH or CH, DGE or GE, CK or K Rules


The English language is packed with confusing rules that can make decoding and reading difficult tasks to master.  What’s more, many of the workbooks and activities are boring, and even if students complete the lesson, it doesn’t mean that they can apply the content in a different learning situation.  However, presenting the same content in a game-like format can make a lesson memorable and engaging even for struggling learners.

Here is a fun game that my students love to play.  It’s great for literacy centers or reading centers, and it will also assist students with spelling.

Materials:

  • 1.5 -2.0 hole punch or round object that can be traced
  • Craft paper
  • Laminating sheets and laminator or 
  • Round wooden discs from the craft store and glue
  • Playing cards:  You can purchase blank playing cards on Amazon:  see link at the bottom, or use laminated craft paper and then write the letters on the blank side with a permanent marker.

How to make the game – using TCH and CH:

  • Place the word beginnings onto playing cards.  I make a stack of at least forty cards.  Twenty cards should illustrate the beginning of TCH words such as MA, WI, DU, and STI. The other twenty cards should illustrate the beginning of CH words such as MUN, HUN, BEA, and BEL.  Many lists can be found on the internet.
  • Make the spinning disc with the two word ending options on either side.  You can glue craft paper and colorful letters onto wooden discs, or glue two, thick, round pieces of craft paper together and laminate.

Instruction:

  • Teach the students the spelling rule:  TCH is usually used after a short vowel sound, and CH comes after a consonant or long vowel sound.
  • Teach the students the spelling rule:  DGE is usually used after a short vowel sound, and GE comes after a consonant or long vowel sound.
  • Teach the students the spelling rule:  CK is usually used after a short vowel sound, and K comes after a consonant or long vowel sound.

How to play:

  • At the beginning of each turn, the player spins the round disc with the word endings on them.  Hold the disc with one finger as illustrated and flick the edge with another finger.   
  • When the disc falls to the table, select a card with the word beginning.
  • Put the word beginning and word ending together to see if it forms a word with the correct spelling.  
  • If it does, the player gets to keep the card.  If not, the card is returned to the bottom of the stack. 
  • The winner is the first player to collect 10 cards.
If you would like to learn about some of my other popular reading games, go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html  There, you can even download another fun, free game for learning the short vowels! 
I hope you enjoy this game.  I would love to hear you thoughts.
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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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Free Money Game Idea

Integrating
games into academic lessons ignites the fun factor, makes instruction
multisensory and grabs the attention of even the most discouraged learners.   I, too, enjoy the creative process
and love pulling out my craft and scrapbook materials, so the new game of the
week brings excitement and wonder into the classroom.  This week, I created the Fun House
Money Game
to help students develop their skills identifying and adding
pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. 
Items needed:
  1) small box
  2) craft or scrapbook paper
  3) glue
  4) scissors
  5) long table or a melamine shelf
  6) marbles or shuffle board
pieces (I purchased the shuffle
board pieces on Amazon and included the link below.)
  7) play money or real change in a small basket or plastic bin
Process:
  1) Remove the bottom of the box with
scissors.
  2) Cover the box with colorful craft
paper.
  3) Cut four doorways/holes in the side
as illustrated.
  4) Label the doorways: pennies,
nickels, dimes and quarters.  You
can also use this same game for fractions, or other numerical denominations.
How to play:
Place
the colorful box at the end of a table or melamine shelf.  Then, give each player twelve marbles
or shuffle board pieces.  Next, decide
who goes first, and take turns trying to get the marbles/shuffle board pieces
into the doorways of the box.  When
a marble enters the box, have that player select the correct change from the
change basket. Once one of the players has rolled all their marbles into the
box the game is over and all the players add up their change.   The winner is the player with the
highest total.  

I hope you enjoy this idea!  I would love to hear your thoughts!!

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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Language Arts Letter Cubes: Fun Literacy Center Freebie

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 and with a permanent marker add the vowels and consonants as suggested in the table below.

3) Assign the point value on the bottom right hand corner.  This will also help the players to orient the letters.  For example, the letter M will look like the letter W 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 
  • a set of 12 colored cubes with the letters and point values for each player.

5) How to Play:  

  • Each player rolls a set of 12 colored cubes onto his or her playing area (players can not change the orientation of the cubes but must use the letters rolled).  
  • Set and begin the timer for 2-5 minutes.  You can decide on the amount of time you prefer.
  • Words must crisscross or join like a scrabble game, and players must try to use as many cubes as they can.  Like Scrabble, proper names and abbreviations can not be used.
  • When the timer goes off, the round ends and players add up their points as indicated on the cubes for each word created.
  • Bonuses are 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
  • The winner is the player with the highest score after 5 rounds
If you would like to learn about some of my other popular reading games, go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html  There, you can even download another fun, free game for learning the short vowels! 
If you like this or have any other ideas, please share your thoughts!!

   Enjoy, Erica

Learning Center Ideas: Free, Fun Phonics Activities

It’s wonderful when giggles of joy and excitement ring
through the classroom as young students eagerly learn the skills needed to be
proficient readers.   Learning
centers or reading centers are often the place where this can happen, but the
trick to tickling your students attention often lies in multisensory,
interactive activities or games. 

Here is a fun phonemic awareness activity I designed that
you can make with old recycled pill or vitamin containers and other common
household goods.  It’s a wonderful
learning center idea that will help students blend phonics sounds into words.

   1)  
Collect and clean old vitamin or pill
containers. I like to use the clear, colorful ones.
   2)  
Decide upon the playing pieces.  I use a 1 inch hole puncher with thick
cardstock, large lima beans, or wooden craft discs. 
   3)  
Place consonants, blends, digraphs, word endings
or more onto both sides of the playing pieces.  I like to color code the pieces to match the color of the
container so that clean up is quick and easy.
   4)  
Label the containers as illustrated or as you
like.
     How to play (2-4
players):
The object of the game is for players to select “a pill”
from each container and try to make a word by blending the sounds.  If a player can make one word or more,
they write down the biggest word on a score sheet and collect one point for
every letter used in their word. 
After each round, the playing pieces are returned to the appropriate
container.  Players shake the
bottles and then select new pieces.  After ten rounds, the winner is the player with the highest
score. 

If you like this game, you will love my newest Reading Games 2 publication.  Come check it out! There, you can also download a full, freebie sample board game! http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html

Cheers, Erica

5 Fun Ways to Teach the Vowel Combinations or Vowel Teams


   1)  
Place the vowel combinations on a balloon with a
permanent marker, or have the students do it themselves.  Pass the balloon from student to
student.  They will then say the
first vowel combination they see and then they share the sound that it
makes.  In a more advanced version,
they can share a word that uses that vowel combination.
   2)  
If you are looking for something more durable
than a balloon, you can purchase playground balls and write the vowel
combinations on them.
   3)  
Use old scrabble tiles.  Place two tiles together to make a
vowel combination and then let the students come up with as many words as they can
by adding additional tiles.  Write
all the words down that are created into a list for all the students to see.  For added fun, they can add up all the
numbers on the tiles to gain points. 
   4)  
If you don’t have scrabble tiles, you can purchase
small kitchen or bathroom tiles and write the letters on them with permanent
markers.  If you get the small,
rectangular tiles, they can fit both vowel team letters on one tile.
   5)  
Give the students a newspaper or magazine
article and a highlighter.  Have
them highlight all the vowel combinations they can find.  Then have them write all the words and
as a group read the words aloud and discuss what sound the vowel combination
makes in each word.
If you are looking for more fun ways to teach the vowel
combinations.  Come check out my
downloadable workbook, Vowel Combinations Made Easy.  You can even get a free sampling of the publication!  Click Here 
Cheers, Erica