Big GAME Hunting! 1

| November 29, 2009 | 4 Comments 

Bungalow 073We have been big game hunting photographing, in schools around the country a lot over the last few months, with the Wii (and P.C.) game “Wild Earth African Safari”.

I think the picture above sums up some of the joy experienced in rising to our challenges.

Bungalow 075It was a chance rummage through a Sainsbury’s Bargain Bin that made us see the huge potential of this game to inspire and motivate children in so many ways.

Collaboration and co-operation are almost a natural bi-product as, as well as the whole group keenly navigating through the landscapes, up to four “players” can directly interact at the same time on the expeditions. And the rest of the class are far from passive travellers either.

We have been adding challenges for the rest of the class taking notes in many forms. For example, an interesting “side effect” of Wordle is that, because it shows the most frequently used words larger than others in the artistic end result, there is a bit of deduction that can be done too.

MystIII 048When a group of children took notes on the elephants we encountered, they did so in the basic Notepad program on all PCs and Macs (so that they could use it in other formats later) and then pasted it in to Wordle.

Great to watch the self realisation when the children noticed that the word “elephant” appeared larger than any other, and then worked out, for themselves, that it needn’t have been bigger. In fact, it could have been one of the least used words, e.g when taking notes, it is better to abbreviate and to avoid repetition of key words.

Bungalow 071The two scientists who travel with you, are cleverly subtitled as they speak. One is American, the other English, to get a bit of balance in the listening experience I suppose. 🙂

It is possible to review what they have said, and see it in print form, on the screen. This is great, as they convey a lot of very useful and detailed information.

The game gives the challenge of photographing as many animals as possible but also elements of their natural behaviour.

It is impressive to watch how much information children pick up in such a small space of time. Not just information on the wildlife they encounter, but also on the implications of intruding in the natural habitats of some of these creatures.

We have been building a whole experience based on the game, yet stretching off in to many other areas of the curriculum and uses of ICT to build confidence and creativity and imagination.

wild earth banner

I am grateful to Majesco Entertainment, the publishers, for their support in our travels with the game and for the lively learning that goes with it! 🙂

A sideline element I mentioned in passing was the delightful Switcheroo Zoo.

MystIII 031

One of my favourite activities with children, is to get them to write imaginary instructions. (“Attach the flenge carefully to the extreeded splicket. If the grellble is fullated, scrunn it frobullously with a full snucket”.)

p.s. only try this with a fully inflated scree net.

(On re-read, my example sounds like a classic Kenneth Williams as Rambling Sid Rump at his gruntnussocking best!!)

MystIII 030On the subject of nonsense, I am grateful to my dad, for introducing me to the idea of mixed up animals. I have had some great fun with classes designing composite animals, drawing them and coming up with some poems.

I always start by telling them about our pet Camelephantelopelicanary, a cross between many exotic animals:

MystIII 033A Camelephantelopelicanary’s a strange and wonderful thing

The bits of its body are really quite shoddy so he’s all held together with string

Discovered, they say, on the first day of May by an explorer out wandering the Nile

The first thing he noted was the fact that it floated and its face was all covered in smile.

animal-splicer.pngHere is a fun little invention you could use on a whiteboard to mix up two random creatures. Have fun!

Children have been amazed, amused and bemused by the mixed up animals HERE too. But.. even happier when they can make their own with Swithcheroo Zoo.

switcheroozoo1Switcheroo Zoo (a.k.a. Switch Zoo) started as a small project. They were playing around with the idea of making new animals by switching their parts.

We are grateful to all the folk at The Zoo for their kind support and emails of encouragement.

They have put a lot of work in. At first, the zoo had just nine animals, and it was the only attraction on the website. Today, there are 142 species in Switch Zoo, and the site features animal games, music performed using animal voices, a reference section about all of the animals in Switch Zoo, lesson plans, and poetry, stories and artwork created by students and visitors.

switcheroozoo2When you arrive at the zoo page, a green screen with a time-bar will display while the zoo is being downloaded, the entrance scene will appear and you’ll hear the Switch Zoo Animal Orchestra singing.

Build an Online HabitatBuild an Online Habitat
Students match animals to the environment best suited for their survival. A compatibility meter and a thermometer help evaluate the environment.

entrance Where Do I Live?
This animal geography game will challenge your students’ knowledge as they move the animals to their natural homes. Students can use the Animal
Homing Device to see the answer for animals they can’t locate.

Educational Games
Three animal-themed games make it fun to learn about animals’ characteristics and habitats. Students can even create their own new species!

switcheroozoo3Switch Zoo – Make New Animals
Visitors to this unique zoo make their own new creatures by switching the animals’ heads, legs and tails. While students play, they can read facts about each of the animals that comprise their new beast. Visit the lesson plans section for classroom ideas.

Your students can learn more about the animals in Switch Zoo by reading their Profiles in the Resources section.

gold handBe sure you don’t miss any of the features in Switch Zoo! — Click the gold hand on the fence to open the hidden How to Play panel and find out about everything you can do in the zoo. Or you can click here to read How to Play before entering the zoo.

map2. Choose an animal to switch
Wait until you see the map, which is a big rock with colorful buttons showing the nine primary animals.

Click the button for the animal that you want to use as your primary animal. This choice will determine what body your new animal will have, as well as its environment. Click the Animal List button to see a list of all the animals in Switch Zoo. By clicking an icon in the list, you can make the new animal and go to a new habitat at the same time.

A few of the Web Too technologies used to record our results, include some favourites like QuotePad, WordSift, EtherPad, Wikispaces, Bambuser, Qik, CueprompterTagGalaxy, Twitter, Prezi, VoiceThread, and so many more!

More to follow…

Category: 2) Useful n Interesting

Comments (4)

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  1. My P1 to P6 class have been playing African Safari this term. We have created a role play area with the younger ones and we’ve all contributed to some great stories and art work. It has been a wonderful way to explore habitat, animal characteristics and also given rise to several discussions about ethics. We have found several animals none of us had heard of so parents have been helping out with research for homework. I know that parents are engaged as we had a query from one checking the distance that new born giraffes drop!
    Thanks for the ideas about Switcheroo zoo.

  2. blog says:

    Thanks Caroline. How far DOES a baby giraffe drop?!?! Did you also pick up how much an elephant poos a day? (Pyooo!!!)
    Have fun with Switcheroozoo

  3. An inspirational post Tim! Going to try and use a lot of your ideas when we do our ‘Greatest River On Earth’ theme if you don’t mind? It revolves around rivers and (now)habitats. Hopefully I will have something useful and vaguely innovative to add! Will let you know where the children end up taking us.

  4. blog says:

    Good luck with your travels Pete, and enjoy the outcomes. Let us know how you get on. Myst IV saved games to follow… honest. Tim

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