Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas for Your Brain

Because I like mine and am all about finding ways to keep it as healthy and well fed  as can be. And I am really excited by the fact that  the internet is making all kinds of knowledge available to anyone. And I don't have to leave my house, which means I could be wearing my pajamas. Which I am not. But I could.

Shane has been on a brain stimulating kick lately. After a particularly good day at work, he came home so full of energy and ideas that I thought he was on something. Turns out he had had the opportunity to think all day, as opposed to sit through , as he calls them, soul-sucking meetings. He was on a roll and all evening was looking for opportunities to  explore and expand his knowledge, of everything. His brain was churning out so many new things he could not sleep and finally had to get up and email himself a list so he could follow up on them the next day.

Which was great because it gave me the idea of getting him a little handheld voice recorder. He is incredibly difficult to surprise as he usually just gets what he wants on his own. So the next day I went out and got him one, and then put it in his shoes for St Nicholas day, today. He was pleased and I was pleased and now he can  keep track of all his thoughts on his commutes or just before he falls asleep.

Shane was also very animated about a TED talk he watched on gameification. Not sure if that has a defined spelling or not, but the concept is that gaming  is a new way of learning and ought to be treated as such. At first I thought the speaker was just trying to justify to his wife his propensity to stay up shooting zombies. But he did have some good points.


A great website of mostly math and sciencey things. It used to be just a collection of videos, but now you can log in with a Facebook account and it keeps track of your progress, makes charts to show what you have done, what needs more work, how long you spent on it etc. We all have accounts, though the little ones are coming up against their reading levels holding them back. They spent around 4 hrs the first day, earning points by doing math problems or watching the videos. Cyprian got up to adding with negative numbers and double digit multiplication. I felt it was fine to abandon our usual math books for a few days. Ok, weeks.

A pilot study is being done using it in classrooms. It works for our classroom.


A philanthropic vocabulary game. Again, you sign in with a Facebook account. You go through vocabulary quizzes. For each correct answer, you get 10 grains of rice added to your bowl. After 10 correct answers, they donate 100 grains of rice to charity.


This one does not need an account and at first look I though it was definitely a game site. Then I watched Cyprian try it out. It looked like he just needed to get the red ball in the red box. Simple. Then he figured out there was a series of events that needed to happen first. And then that was a correct order to the events. Which he quickly figured out. We have not spent as much time here as my brother-in-law just told me about it. But we'll look into all it has to offer.


Not a game. But very educational and entertaining talks by people all over the world on topics from cancer to writing, super string theory to gamification. Each lecture is around 20 min and usually is a spring board to more research and much conversation. If Shane is lucky he'll have the time to watch one with his lunch. Then he'll email to me to watch and we'll talk about it over dinner and whatever other topics it leads to. No shortage of brain stimulation here.

So these are places we've been frequenting lately. I love how the gaming and learning are coming together and am excited that my kids' definition of learning is not something that is static and boring, but engaging, entertaining and can be shared with the whole family.

Enjoy and Happy St Nicholas Day. Also, let me know of any other sites out there. They seem to popping up all the time.

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