I have been asked to take an after-school computer club in a local primary school, but I am not particularly imaginative, and am having difficulty thinking of suitable activities. Does anyone have any ideas or experiences that I could use?
There will be about 15 children of 8 to 11 years of age, the computers they’ll be using have a full range of application software and Internet access. The activities should have a vaguely educational leaning (ie no mindless games) but obviously the kids should also enjoy what they’re doing.
Any suggestions will be much appreciated.
These may be a few years old by now, but when I was that age, I really enjoyed the Super Solvers line of games–and I learned a lot about arithmetic, grammar, and especially science. Another good game is the Zoombinis Logical Journey, which has a sequel, the name of which I don’t remember.
I enjoyed Super Solvers too, but have they made updated games that will run more easily on newer OSes? I haven’t tried to play any of my old DOS ones on a modern computer, but I could easily see it having major problems, even if the old ones could be found.
You may wish to consider Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. I loved this game when I was a kid. You get to play detective and follow geographical and historical clues in order to track down this thief Carmen Sandiego who is pulling off heists around the world. There are apparently other versions you can buy now that target math and grammar skills as well. It was quite a popular game with students and it did win a number of awards. The only possible drawback may be its age as it dates back to the late '90s. There are other educational games offered by its parent company Riverdeep that you may also want to check out.
Well it’s a computer science club, right? Why not do as another doper planned on doing in his class: Introduce the kids to game making tools.
There are a number of games out there with toolsets that’ll teach the kiddies some basics about programming, 3D modeling, and all the other factors that come together to make a video game. I don’t think you can wrong with that on the fun factor.
The problem would be acquiring some copies of the games.
Off the top of my head:
Battlefield Vietname (and 1942 has a toolset too I think).
There are many others as well, but buying the games might come in a little expensive.
I’m most fmailiar with Neverwinter Night’s toolset. It’s not that hard to use (this does not mean that it’ll be a walk i the park), it’s very visual, and it supported by a hoarde of loyal fans (myself included ).
And IIRC, the End user agreement applies to the Player and DM clients, so you can buy 1 or 2 copies of the game, and run the toolset only, on several machines, while running the game itself only on the comps which have the CDs.
In fact they have a demo of the toolset or atleast they used to, you can look around at the website: http://nwn.bioware.com
Teach the kids to code html.
You can then also teach them to use graphic programs to make web-buttons etc and they can each make a site about their favourite hobby, tv show, whatever.
You can also cover other internet related stuff like nettiquet, online safety for kids, etc.
Give 'em a camcorder and let them make a movie.
Similarly, give them a digital camera and let them discover the joys of Photoshop.
Simple interactive game making programme is Adventure Games Script - free at www.agsforums.com My 10yr old had fun making an interactive Christmas card last year. Makes somewhat dated Sierra and Lucasarts type games, but fun for the youngsters if they are that way inclined.
I like to web site “scavenger hunts” with my students. I make a worksheet with questions about certain websites.
Recently, I had my fifth graders go to www.cedarpoint.com. I had them figure out if it was open on certain days, tell where it’s located, etc. Figure out how much it would cost to go there with their families (Math). Think of adjectives to describe the place (Language Arts).
Most theme parks have web sites and this does take some advance preparations.
I’ve also done an activity like this with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s web site.
Recently I’ve discovered a website for the Museum of Modern Art in Queens, NYC. There are a whole bunch of activities for kids on that web site. (www.moma.org)
I’ve been reading to my students Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord. It takes place in Venice Italy. So I had them do Google searches on Venice, to see pictures of some of the sights.