Monday, March 30, 2009

Look out it's....TIMEZ ATTACKS!

If you happen to be looking, you will know how hard it is to find a really good simulation game that is educational for younger kids. There are obviously the Sims games (SimAnt, SimEarth, SimFarm) and the like, but they are so multifaceted they require a lot of time investment for teachers and students. We know these games are engaging, but our inner critic is not crazy about letting kids spend a lot of time on them unless we know there will be a definite academic benefit too.

I think I have found a good one - Timez Attacks. Timez Attacks is a simulation developed by Big Brain Software. It is usually available for purchase, however, they are offering free downloads to teachers for multiplication facts 2 to 12. Teachers get one free download per email address (so I have actually gotten 3).

In Timez Attacks you (the player) are this little mutant-ish creature who is in some castle-type thing. The object is for you to always be trying to get out of the chamber you are in. To do this, you must master some multiplication facts. The cool thing about Timez Attacks is that it is not merely fact memorization - your character is presented with a troll or something bearing the symbolic representation of the problem, say 2 x 2. It then releases 2 snails. Your player must catch each snail. When you catch the first snail you will see a "2", and when you catch the second snail you will see an "4". Your player can then throw the snails and when you do, 2 items will splat on the cave wall. Each will be a box containing 2 dots - you are now conceptualizing the multiplication problem as "2 two times". You may then post the answer "4" on the troll's chest or the dungeon wall or whatever.

It's actually quite simple - and fun! Kids love this and it goes beyond just memorization of facts. As you learn more facts and break through more chambers, you are constantly challenged on the facts you have already learned.

For teachers who have students learning multiplication facts (anywhere between 2nd grade to middle school kids who still need practice), Timez Attacks is great - they will BEG you to let them practice their math facts! I have a few third graders who are already getting addicted!

The free download only takes a couple of minutes and then that little green creature head on your desktop will always be there - ready to play!

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