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May 2, 2020

10 Online Tools for Playing, Learning, and Teaching

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.

   -Diane Ackerman

Play is a powerful teacher! As we shift from what we have come to understand as traditional school to distance learning, we hope teachers, parents, and students can take comfort in knowing that play is the work of childhood. Play is how children learn.

The research proves there are many different types of play:

  • Unoccupied play
  • Independent play
  • Onlooker play
  • Parallel play
  • Associative play
  • Cooperative play
  • Social play
  • Object play
  • Pretend play
  • Physical play, and…
  • Media play

Media play is the focus of this list of 10 Online Tools for Playing, Teaching, and Learning. We hope you will find it helpful and informative!

1. BrainPop

Grades: K-12

“Make any room a classroom,” is at the heart of BrainPop. Science, social studies, English, math, the arts/music, health, social-emotional learning, engineering and tech are all included! For example, I clicked on “health and social emotional learning” then, body systems, then body chemistry. This brought up a screen with choices: watch a movie, make a map, take a quiz, make a movie, creative coding, related reading, vocabulary and games. Colorful, clean, and easy to navigate. Free during school closures.

2. PlayPosit

Grades: PreK-12+

My second grade teacher friend, Anne, shared how she was using videos with her students and wished she had the ability to pause the videos for instruction. Enter PlayPosit! PlayPosit is a video editing platform that “allows instructors to enrich video content with a variety of powerful interactions ranging from multiple choice questions to graded fill-in-the blanks.” During this time of distance learning, many teachers are using videos to engage students. This app gives teachers the chance to enhance the learning experience for their students. Just in time!

3. Tynker

Grades: K-12

Known as the “Number One coding app for kids,” Tynker is a great place to get students to give coding a go. Besides coding, the app includes STEM lessons and curriculum, as well, and is delineated by grade: K-2, Elementary School, Middle School and High School.

4. Starfall

Grades: PreK-3

Starfall’s original plan was to help children learn to read, “Starfall’s emphasis on phonemic awareness, systematic sequential phonics, and common sight words in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity has proven effective in teaching emergent readers.” Colorful and interactive, take a peek!

5. Kahoot

Grades: K-12

Popular with teachers and students, at the very least Kahoot is a fun word to say! Under the Distance Learning tab it states “make distance learning awesome” we agree! Kahoot is a game based learning platform (they call the games “kahoots”).The games provide a bit of competition to engage learners. Free for schools impacted by Covid-19.

6. ABCya!

Grades: PreK-6+

ABCya! gets high reviews from teachers, parents and players. Known as “an exceptional website for kids,” the site is easy to navigate with lots of interactive games for children from preschool to 6th grade plus.

7. Seussville

Grades: PreK-6

Even the question to get you into the educator section rhymed, in true Dr. Seuss fashion.

I’ll be honest, this site feels like a score!

There’s art and printables, and so much more!

Check out the fun, you’ll be sad when you’re done…

But be happy you found it, there’s resources galore!

Games, readings, books, activities, and learn about Dr. Seuss while you’re at it.

8. MyAmericanFarm

Grades: PreK-6

Games like Operation Peanut Butter, The Grocery Grab, and Load the Lunchbox help students learn about Math, Geography, Science, English Language Arts, Health, and Social Science. Clever and engaging.

9. Quandary

Grades: 3+

Enlists players in decision making, perspective taking, and quick thinking–aka: “quandaries.” The site includes Quandary curriculum, a character creator tool, and helpful videos. A beneficial, and timely, social-emotional learning platform.

10. Fortnite Save the World

Grades: 8+

People have mixed feelings about the suite of Fortnite games due to some of the content. This specific game, Fortnite: Save the World is an exercise in survival as players must collect resources and find shelter to survive. Because over 125 million people play this game, we thought we should include it in the list.

For more information about media play:

The Power of Play: How Kids Benefit from Game Based Learning from Tynker

Digital Media Learning from the Fred Rogers Center

Technology and Media from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

To download this list, click here.


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