Too Many Games!


In the last post, Why Bring Games into your Classroom, I presented several advantages for bringing games into your classroom. Naturally, the next question is: Which games should I bring into my classroom?

The market is over-saturated with educational and learning games; so choosing a good game for your students can be quite time consuming or very frustrating and confusing with so many similar games. However, there are some initial steps that can be taken to help make your time and effort much more efficient.

What defines a ‘good game for your classroom’? Here are 4 characteristics:

  • Play-ability (Engaging/Willing to play again)
  • Learning Objectives (What is the game trying to do/teach?)
  • Differentiation (Can you play at different levels, speeds, etc?)
  • Critical and Strategic Thinking (Does the game make them plan ahead/problem solve?)

There are, literally, thousands of games per subject available on the web. Quite frankly, many of them are just not playable or that engaging. Below are four points to consider as you try to find games to add to your classroom.

First, Do you enjoy playing the game?

Not a catch-all for finding that great game to help your kids learn. However, if you, personally, do not enjoy the game, it is a good indicator that your children or students will probably not enjoy playing either.

Second, Rely on Trusted Resources

Rely on a few trusted resources, either personal or internet, and avoid large, general searches. It’s an ocean of apps, and one can quickly drown and get easily lost in the navigation. BrainPOP’s GameUP site, for example, has a limited number of games (less than 5% of games that are submitted get added to their site). is another site that uses teacher & parent reviews to rate the games and sites.

Third, Find out what your students are playing

Ask your students to show them some of the (educational/puzzle/strategy) games that they enjoy, then play it yourself. Does it stimulate critical thinking? Is the game actually meeting educational objectives? If the game meets the characteristics defined as a ‘good game’ above, then bring it in! Not all of the games they play may be a good fit for your personality or class, but they can give you ideas and be a great filter. A good example is Minecraft, where a huge educational community has grown up around that game.

Fourth, Think outside the box

Many games, not necessarily labeled ‘educational’ are great to bring in to your classroom that can provide plenty of learning opportunities and stimulate strategic and critical thinking.

  • Computer: Minecraft, SimCity, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Portal*, The Talos Principle
  • Classic Games: Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, Scrabble, Clue, Blokus, MasterMind, Yahtzee, Checkers, Chutes-and-Ladders (Pre-k)
  • Contemporary/Modern Board Games: Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Island, Qwirkle
  • Puzzle: Sudoku, Kakuro

The point is also not to be afraid to experiment! Looking at games from a different point of view may give you a great idea!

Tell us in the comments what games you’ve brought into the classroom! What games to your kids enjoy playing?


*Portal does have several levels that involve robotic gun turrets that shoot at the player, however.

Midsummer Update-News and Dev


Hello again everyone! Teachers, I hope you’ve been able to relax and enjoy some deserved time off. Just wanted to give a brief update on what’s been happening at Fluency Games so far this summer.



I will presenting on Math Fluency at the Tennessee Mathematics Teacher’s Association Fall Conference (Sept. 26-27) and the North Carolina Council of Math Teacher’s Conference (Oct 30-31); So, come and see me! I’d love to get feedback from teachers who use the games.


New Portals

Addition Blocks and Multiplication Blocks are now available on the ToonGoggles mobile site, and arrangements have been made to play the games on the CoolMath mobile site, plus FunBrain.Com. Also, I am working with LearnPad to have the games available for their award-winning device.


ISTE Conference

I was able to attend ISTE as a guest of BrainPOP, and helped them out in their classroom. BrainPOP will some great new additions for the coming school year:


Make-A-Map: Students and teachers will be able to generate Thinking Maps directly within the BrainPOP site. The tool is integrated with the Movie section, and students can access keywords and images by drag-and-drop on to the Make-A-Map canvas. Students can even add links to sections of the movie!

Sortify: Have your kids played Sortify yet? Developed by BrainPOP, this is a great critical-thinking game. The game is available across multiple topics (Nutrition, American Revolution, Multiplication, Angels, etc), where players sort 30 tiles into labeled bins. The game allows for multiple solutions, as tiles can go into different bins. Great for a Unit Preview activity, Mid-unit review, or Post-unit assessment!


Mobile version: High Priority in development, to get their whole site available for mobile devices. They hope to roll out in 6 months or so.


Administrative Dashboard: Allows for easier set-up for teacher and student accounts, planning to be ready for the new school year.


Also got to meet and talk with Steven Isaacs @mr_isaacs!


Addition Blocks v.3/Multiplication Blocks v.2

Here’s what is happening with the next generation of Addition Blocks and Multiplication Blocks:


Profiles: The apps will have up to 6 (“Pro”)/30 (“Educational”) individual profiles and will be able to keep track of a players scores, achievements, and settings.


Progress Reporting: The next generation of the software will feature progress tracking and reporting within the app. I believe there is much power in a child seeing themselves actually getting better! Additionally, progress data will be held on server-based (ie, “cloud”) storage; this will allow for the children’s progress to be recorded across platforms. The progress reporting will be available as a licensed feature, but will provide great feedback for your children.

New game mode: Timed mode! Play from 30 second-turbo mode game up to 10 minutes.


Updated/Improved graphics: The game will be native 2048×1536; however, I have changed the way the graphics are being displayed, so the game will look much better on Android and iPhone devices!

Follow along with the development at #additionblocksver3!


Subtraction Blocks

Found a graphics artist to work on the development for this game. Addition Blocks will be my priority over the next few months, so look for the game in about 6 months!


Subtraction Blocks will have similar mechanics to Candy-Crush. The game will not have the falling target block: Instead, players ‘swipe’ two blocks together to find the difference. Swiping to get a zero will destroy both blocks. Levels will have different goals to attain (Clear board, score, moves, etc).


What else would like to see in Addition Blocks and Multiplication Blocks? Leave a comment and let us know! Thanks!