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You can introduce topics to the class, even reviewing the games and how to play, and then assign kids to play the games on their own. Some games lend themselves to being played in small groups, while others are better for individual play. Show the BrainPop videos to the class or small groups and encourage kids to rewatch videos on the specific concepts they don’t understand. Kids can play games in class or as homework, if they have computers. After play, start a discussion: Ask kids about their game strategies and to share what they learned with the class.
Editor's note: In the past, Common Sense Education has partnered with BrainPOP. However, Common Sense Education's reviews maintain editorial integrity and independence.Continue reading Show less
GameUp is the games section of BrainPop, which offers animated videos and curricular support material for a variety of school subjects. While BrainPop is subscription-based, GameUp is a free resource with games about science, math, social studies, health, and engineering and technology, and all games align to academic standards. Games are designed by a variety of developers and range widely in level of simplicity, and most resemble video games to varying degrees. Each game page includes animated videos that explain the main concepts explored in the game. For example, in "Monster School Bus," kids explore adding and subtracting integers, associative and commutative properties, and decimals as they guide a new bus driver around town picking up and dropping off kids for school. Subscribing teachers can also see lesson plan ideas and pre-made quizzes and assessment tools. There are also links to content designed specifically for K-3 and ESL kids.
Most games are fun, and all are unique, clever, and creative. They tend to address learning concepts not traditionally explored in this format, like "Judicial Court," where kids argue court cases at the Supreme Court. Through game-based learning, kids can actively interact with the subject matter and practice higher-order thinking and problem-solving. Some of the games have an edgy design, which may be too flashy for some kids, but there are lots to choose from.
Wish list: It would be nice to have a sign-in option for kids to save progress or compete against or share with their peers. Some more in-game guidance might also help kids who don't quite get the concepts and need more support. More info on the game page -- for example, an index showing subtopics -- would help teachers searching for a particular game that addresses specific topics.