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What it is: In a word…awesome! Skitch is an amazing new (beta) application created by Plasq. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I decided to let the Skitch creators SHOW you what Skitch is and does. Watch the video below for a quick run down of Skitch. How to integrate Skitch into the classroom:...

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Hooda Math: math fact practice that feels like fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 09-06-2014

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Hooda Math: Practice math facts and have fun

Flappy factors: learn math playing games

What it is:  Hooda Math is a fantastic collection of math games that give students the opportunity for math fact practice while having fun. The games are based on other addicting games like Flappy Birds and 2048. Instead of just playing the games to see how far they can get, students also get some built-in fact practice. For example, in Flappy Factors, students maneuver a bird through a maze of pipes. Each pipe has an integer on it, students must fly through the correct factor of a target multiple that is given. Students must avoid the pipe with the incorrect integer. As students advance through the game, a progress report is generated that can be emailed to a teacher or a parent. The Hooda Math site has been created for a variety of platforms…perfect for a BYOD classroom!

How to use Hooda Math in your classroom: Hooda Math is organized by category types: Mobile games, Shopkeeper games, Geometry games, Logic games, Number games, Physics Games, Growing games, Building games, and Escape games. The games can also be organized by grade level, subject, or category. There are over 500 games in all, ensuring something for everyone in kindergarten through high school.

Students at Anastasis LOVE mobile games. When Flappy Birds came out, they were often spending hours (truly!) playing these games in their free time. Hooda Math games are a great way for students to practice math facts and skills while they are playing. Math becomes significantly less challenging when facts become second nature. Hooda Math games are a great way for students to practice their math facts without hours of flash cards. Math practice becomes fun and the challenge is not just in figuring out the trick to the game, it is also unlocking the building blocks of math.

When I taught a computer class, I often had students lament that they would NEVER be able to learn to touch type. I often asked these students, “do you play video games? Do you have to look at the controller when you play to see what to press next?” They always answered, “No! I would lose if I had to look at the controller.” I would follow-up by asking them how they memorized what to do to the controller to win. Light. Bulb. Moment. The same is true for these math games. Students can play these games like they would other popular games, if they know their math facts, they are more likely to “live” longer and win the game.

I learned my math facts when my third grade teacher made up rhymes and a Chinese jumprope game where you had to know your facts to stay “in.” We learned our multiplication tables in no time! (If anyone knows this game, I would LOVE to remember how to play it, leave the link/directions in a comment below.) I suspect that Hooda Math games could have the same outcomes for your students. When the facts are the key to winning, there is a different motivation to know them (beyond just completing the worksheet/test).

In a one to one device environment, students can play the games that build skills where they need them. Students can play at their own level. In the one or two computer classroom, use Hooda Math as a math center rotation. Students can travel from center to center in small groups and take turns playing the games that meet their individual needs.

Be sure to pass on Hooda Math to your student’s families. It is a great way to practice at home and over summer break.

Tips: Don’t forget to have your students send you the progress report at the end. This helps you keep track of their progress without the need for worksheets.

Are you using Hooda Math in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

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What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Money Island in  your classroom!

Living Math Book List: Fiction for (almost) every math concept

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools | Posted on 03-01-2012

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Happy New Year!!  You may have noticed…I took a tech break for the holidays!  There may not have been an abundance of posts and sharing happening, but I was still collecting away and have more resources than ever to share in 2012.  Thank you all for making my 2011 such a wonderful year to be a part of!

What it is:  You know what I love?  Reading and books. Particularly fiction.  Living Math Book List is a fantastic site that introduces books (mostly fiction) for every math concept (okay, almost every math concept!).  The site is SO easy to use, just click on the “Search categories” tab and choose the math topic your students are working on.  A list of books with links to Amazon is at the ready.  The site is being updated regularly so new books pop into the different categories on occasion.  Isn’t it great to stumble on a new jem-of-a-book that you can use in your classroom? I love teaching through story, and Living Math Book List makes it easy to bring stories into your math class.  Including books in math gives students who struggle with math concepts a new vantage point and understanding.  It makes math meaningful by showing students why they learn the math concepts they do and how math really is all around us.  You have to love that!  Topics include: addition, angles, area, calendars, capacity, combinations, comparisons, counting, skip counting, data collection, division, doubling numbers, equal sets, equations, estimation, even/odd, fractions, graphing, making predictions, matching, measurement, metrics, money, multiplication, negative numbers, opposites, ordinal numbers, patterns, percentages, perimeter, place value, positional words, probability, problem solving, proportions, ratio, reading a schedule, regrouping, rounding, sequences, shapes, sizes, sorting, subtraction, symmetry, time, and weight.  So yeah, something for everyone!
How to integrate Living Math Book List into the classroom:  As I said, I am a big fan of reading and books.  Any time you can tie learning back to story is a win in my book.  Use the books you find on Living Math Book List to introduce new concepts, to enrich students interaction with a concept, as a launching point for writing their own math-related fiction, or just to expose students to a new way of thinking about the math they are learning.  The books make a great classroom read-aloud or can be used as a math center during a unit.
At Anastasis Academy, we made sure to have plenty of these types of math books available to students during silent reading.  They really enjoy reading them with a partner and pointing out the math concepts they recognize along the way.

Tips: Embed the link to Living Math Book List on your class website or blog, this will make it easy for you, and your students, to find math-related books any time.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Living Book List in  your classroom!

Moneyville: Economics and money virtual world for elementary students

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 04-08-2011

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What it is:  Moneyville is a fantastic site I learned about from iLearn Technology reader Tania.  This is an impressive site from the UK that teaches young kids (5-9 years old) about money and economic principles.  Moneyville is a fun interactive environment/virtual world where students can explore where money comes from, what money is worth and how they can prioritize spending and save (perhaps the US government should be playing this game?).  Throughout the game, students are asked to make a number of decisions that can affect their finances for the year.  In Moneyville students can make money by picking apples and selling apple juice, work at the post office to sort packages according to value, work at the city gates where they can earn money by painting, purchase items for their virtual room with the money they have earned, visit with a wizard who can reveal a secret treasure and add items to a wish jar where students can place items they are saving for.  Students will also find a time machine in Moneyville where they can journey to ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages, or to the time of the dinosaurs.  The money in Moneyville is generic so it can help students of any country the principles of where money comes from, how to prioritize money, the value of money, and why it is important to save.

How to integrate Moneyville into the classroom: Moneyville is a fun way to help young students understand the basics of money and economics.  The site is a fun way for students to explore economic principles.  It provides a great place to start discussions about what it takes to make money (work), why money is important, why saving is important and how the economic cycle works.  Moneyville would be a great site for students to play on individually in a lab setting at the beginning of a money/economics unit.  Expand the game into other disciplines.  Students can learn about persuasion and advertising by creating advertisements for their businesses in Moneyville using a paint or word processing program.

Don’t have time/resources at school for students to play Moneyville in the classroom? Introduce them to the game using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer. This is the type of site that my students begged to be able to continue on at home.  I never made it homework but rarely had a student who didn’t play at home!  If you do have an IWB or projector, create a class Moneyville account.  Let students take turns making decisions in Moneyville and talk as a class about the consequences (and unintended consequences) of those decisions.

Tips: Students create a username and password so that they can play in Moneyville with all of their progress and money saved.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Moneyville in  your classroom!

Gudli: learning games for math, language, science, puzzles and fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Websites | Posted on 09-06-2011

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What it is: Gudli is a collection of games for kids that makes learning fun.  Students can play these interactive educational games while developing skills in math, logic, memory, words, creativity and more.  Gudli is free to use and a fantastic learning space for students in kindergarten, first and second grade.

Learning games include:

Math

  • Color Addition
  • Learn Shape
  • Color Subtraction
  • Number Series
  • Number Wheel
  • Add Numbers
  • Match Shape
  • Minus
  • How Many
  • Number Writing
  • Spider Counting
  • Color by Number
  • What Number Missing
  • Billing Counter
  • Time Zone
  • Table Memory
  • Mission Subtraction
  • Tick Tock Time
  • Quick Match
  • Math Story
  • Pattern Match
  • Counting Coins
  • Mission Addition

Language

  • Simple Sentences
  • Lead the Way
  • Rhyme Time
  • ABC Words
  • Word Rhyme
  • ABC Jigsaw
  • Word Trail
  • Sight Words
  • Labeling
  • Save Panda
  • Letter Blox
  • Word Hunt
  • The Blank
  • Opposite Adjectives
  • Spellathon
  • Scramble
  • Phonic Train
  • Googly Balloon
  • Alphabet Writing
  • What Letter Missing
  • Word Search
  • English Memory

Puzzle

  • Connect Pipe
  • US Map
  • Jigsaw Wonders
  • Stardoku
  • Shape and Shadow
  • Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Tetris Mania
  • Tricky Shuffler
  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Sliding Puzzle

Science

  • Butterfly Life Cycle
  • Grow Plant
  • Water Cycle
  • Animal Quiz
  • Jigsaw Safari

In the side bar student will learn fun “did you know” facts, Math tricks (like “Multiply by 9: Multiply by 10 and subtract the original number”) and grammar hints.  Each game is labeled with the grade level and has a short description of the game and learning goals.

How to integrate Gudli into the classroom: Gudli is a fun way for kids to practice learning in math, English and science.  These games make great center activities to support learning.  The games are short enough that they can be set up on classroom computers and students can take turns reinforcing learning and skill practice.  Gudli has enough games that students can play several in a lab setting where each student has a computer.  Students can choose the games that best meet their learning needs.

Gudli is a great site to share with parents looking for some ways to reinforce learning over the summer!

Tips: Gudli has a brand new virtual world coming soon!  Students will be able to explore a fun virtual world, “chat” with their friends, play in an interactive environment, challenge friends to games and of course learn!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Gudli in your classroom!

On Demand Learning: Classroom Optional (Khan Academy and Academic Earth)

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials | Posted on 16-03-2011

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What it is: Tonight I was talking education with a fun group that is helping me think through my school design.  As we were talking one of the participants mentioned Khan Academy…some of the teachers in attendance had never heard of it.  I sometimes forget that not everything is common knowledge and even if it is common knowledge to most, there are still those who can benefit from the mention!  Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan quite by accident.  He tutored his cousins in math and when he moved away from them, they still requested support.  Sal began making algebra videos and uploading them to YouTube for his family, it has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced math, science, and history exercises for students.  The library is extensive and comprehensive including algebra, arithmetic, banking and money, biology, brain teasers, calculus, California standards algebra, geometry, chemistry, cosmology and astronomy, credit crisis, current economics, developmental math, differential equations, finance, history, linear algebra, organic chemistry, Paulson bailout, physics, pre-algebra, pre-calculus, probability, statistics, trigonometry, valuation and investing, venture capital, and capital markets.  It is a pretty impressive collection!  I really like these videos because they provide students with on-demand learning and present the learning in a way that appeals to the visual and auditory learner.  The experience is so much richer than a textbook can offer. It is like having your own personal tutor.

Academic Earth is another extensive video library that lets students (and adults) take video courses from the worlds top scholars all in one place…for free!  The mission of Academic Earth is to give everyone access to a world class education.  Subjects covered by Academic Earth include art, architecture, astronomy, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, education, electrical engineering, engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, history, international relations, law, literature, mathematics, media studies, medicine and health care, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, test prep, and writing.  Students have access to the learning happening at Berkley, Columbia, Harvard, Khan Academy, Maryland, Michigan, MIT, Norwich, NYU, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, UNSW, USC, and Yale.  Did I mention all of that learning is free?  I know, amazing!

How to integrate Khan Academy and Academic Earth into the classroom: Both Khan Academy and Academic Earth provide students with opportunities for on-demand learning in their areas of interest or their areas of weakness.  Students can use these resources to support the learning happening in the classroom and to fill any gaps that students may have in their learning.  Video is a powerful medium because it appeals to a wide range of learners and makes it easy to pause, rewind, review, and share that learning.

Khan Academy would be a great tool to use for the “Fisch Flip” where the homework is to watch the lesson on video and class time is spent on working through the problems together.  Let that sink in…makes more sense doesn’t it? Students get support where they need it most, in the follow through and practice of the learning.

Academic Earth provides students with the opportunity of pursuing their passions, getting a feel for what type of study they would like to pursue in a university, and support learning.

Do you have students that could use additional challenge and are constantly searching for more learning? Set up an extended learning center in your classroom where students who need that challenge can self direct and extend their learning by using Khan Academy or Academic Earth.

Tips: Khan Academy is a great resource to pass on to families, parents are often looking for ways to supplement and support the learning happening in the classroom.  Math in particular is a challenge as many parents did not feel successful enough in higher math themselves to help their children.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Khan Academy and Academic Earth in your classroom!

MinyanLand: A virtual world for economics and finance

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-03-2011

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What it is: I love virtual worlds that go beyond just play and incorporate learning opportunities.  MinyanLand is a virtual world where students get to play games and make friends while they learn about earning, saving, spending and giving.  Best of all, it is free to use!  Students begin their time in MinyanLand with $50,000 in MinyanMoney and a condo.  They can visit the ATM in the MinyanLand bank to invest their money.  Each time students visit, they can check to see if their balance has gone up or down.  Students can earn more MinyanMoney by playing fun games, or doing real life chores or classroom jobs to collect a virtual allowance.   Students can  use their MinyanMoney to buy things for their home, add rooms, and move into a new neighborhood.

MinyanLand has it’s own newspaper called the MinyanLand Journal, it will keep students up-to-date with what is new every day.  Students can play games where they practice their math skills and test their knowledge about money.  Games include a Lemonade Stand, Guitar Mayhem, Paper Route, Concentration, Balloon Quiz, Fill in the Face, Fill in the Name, Catch the Money, Word Search, Money Sorter, Cluedoku, Boo Blvd., Where Did You Get That Money?, and Quiz Boxes.  Students will need to keep their virtual character healthy by fueling up at Ollie’s Diner.

The characters in MinyanLand are fun and varied, there is Hoofy the Bull, president of the bank; Boo the Bear, a retired dot-com millionaire; Daisy the cow, executive producer of MinyanLand’s TV station; Cassidy the Bear, a school teacher; Sammy the Snake, an administrator in City Hall; and Snapper the Turtle, the go-to guy in town.

MinyanLand is a fun way for students to learn about and interact with economic and financial concepts.  The economic system in MinyanLand can even take advantage of real-life pricing of general goods and services.  Students are encouraged to charitably give within MinyanLand.  The idea is to offer every child the opportunity and platform to be financially literate.   MinyanLand is ideal for students in 3rd-5th grade but younger students would enjoy it as well.

How to integrate MinyanLand into the classroom: MinyanLand is such a fun way to work toward financial literacy in the classroom.  It offers students a virtual economy where they can practice real-world skills of buying, earning, investing, and giving.  I love the way that MinyanLand ties the real world to the virtual by allowing students to earn virtual MinyanMoney for real chores and jobs.

Registering is free and easy enough for young students to register themselves.  A parent or teacher email address is optional for registration.  If students include a parent or teacher email address, they can earn MinyanMoney for chores or jobs that you assign.

MinyanLand is one of those sites that would be great as a year-long project.  Students can visit MinyanLand throughout the year in the classroom (and at home) to learn about money, investing, spending, earning, and the economy.  It is a natural fit in the math classroom where students are already working with money and numbers.  MinyanLand would be best in a lab setting where each student has access to a computer.  If you don’t have a lab for students, use classroom computers as a learning center.  Students can visit the center throughout the week to interact in MinyanLand.

Tips: Even if you don’t want to use the virtual money in class, consider letting parents know about the opportunity to tie household chores to learning.  Students can play in class and earn virtual money at home.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using MinyanLand in your classroom!

Where’s George: Track US currency

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Geography, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 15-12-2010

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What it is: Where’s George is a neat site that lets your students track the travel of dollar bills through circulation.  Users of the site mark their bills with the website address, and follow the adventure of their money.    On the Where’s George site, students can enter the serial number on the bill, enter their current zip code and learn about where their bill has been.  If your bill doesn’t have a tracking history, you can start tracking it.  Add a short note about the bill including where it was found, what condition it is in, etc.  Students and classes can choose to receive an email when the next person finds and records the bill’s next location.  In addition to tracking bills, you can view a report by zip code, state, bill denomination, or county.

How to integrate Where’s George into your curriculum: Where’s George is a great site to use as part of a money or currency unit.  Let your students track their money and watch the journey of their money unfold.  Students can track their lunch money, donation money, or sports club money.  Track a dollar with your class for an entire school year.  Enter the dollar serial number as a class at the beginning of the school year, record information about it, and write the Where’s George web address on the dollar.  Use a class email address to track the bill throughout the year.  Map where the dollar travels.  Toward the end of the year, have your students write a story about the adventures their dollar has had, including the places it has visited, and the kind of people they imagine that it met on its travels.  This is sure to spark some creative stories!

*** When using the site with students make sure to preview where the bill has been before sharing with students, sometimes those bills visit some interesting places that may need to be screened (i.e. strip club). Always preview first!

Tips: Need a different currency to track? Check out this page to find your country’s currency (Europe, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Germany).  There is also a neat site called Book Crossing that tracks books that you have read and released.  Cool!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Where’s George  in  your classroom!

Cost of NCLB Testing Info Graphic ($5.3 billion is TOO high)

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, education reform, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 21-09-2010

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Lately I have been wondering about how much state testing costs us.  There are a lot of costs involved in standardized testing.  In addition to the cost of administering, grading, and recording the test, there are other less tangible costs such as the impact on learning.  Curious, I sent out a tweet asking if anyone had info on how much testing cost (I was coming up empty in a Google search).  A few of my PLN sent me a link to Stateline.org where I found this:

I knew the numbers would be high, but this is shocking. All of that money per state for testing.  I started wondering what else that money could have been used for and sent out another tweet, this time asking what one thing teachers would want in their classrooms if money was no object.  The info graphic above holds the results.

The info graphic is based on the following numbers (links to data sources):

iPod Touch 4 $229

iPad $499

Average cost of children’s books $21

Soccer ball $10

64 Count Box of Crayola Crayons $5

Exercise ball (to use as chair replacements) $20

Price/square foot for school addition $222

Paraprofessional Salary/year $26,000

Violin $340

I don’t know about you, but every one of those items above feels like a better use of money.

Image links: Pencils, Exercise ball, iPod Touch 4, iPad, Soccer Ball, Crayons, Violin


Price: $
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Rags to Riches

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 05-07-2010

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What it is: Rags to Riches takes Lemonade Tycoon to a whole new level with simulated business.  In Rags to Riches, students are working to make their band a success.  Students play the part of a new band going on tour with a few new songs.  As they play the Rags to Riches game simulation, students must make decisions about what the band should do.  They have to decide which cities are best for them to play in, what venues to play, how much money to spend on publicity and how much to charge for tickets.  Students start out with $100 and must make wise decisions to continue in the simulation.  When they run out of money, the game ends and they must start again.

How to integrate Rags to Riches into the classroom: If you teach students like mine, breaking out Lemonade Tycoon in the classroom is met by cheers from some and with eye rolls by others who are “way too cool” for a lemonade stand.  For those students, Rags to Riches is in order.  The premise of the game is the same, but instead of selling lemonade, students are working to take their band to super star status.  This is a great game for teaching students about business, economics, and money.  This game is really best played in a computer lab setting where each student has access to their own computer, but if you don’t have that luxury, it could also be played as a class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  If you are playing as a class, give each student a roll in the band and set up rules together about how business decisions will be made.  After the simulation, come together as a class and talk about what decisions had the best outcomes and which led to downfalls.

Tips: Don’t hit your back button while you are in the simulation or your game will start over.  This is an important tip to pass on to students!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Rags to Riches in your classroom.