As part of my numeracy lesson yesterday I used our class Nintendo Wii to support some of the shape work we have been doing. I identified the mini game Block Spot within Big Brain Academy as an opportunity for the children to continue to practice visualising and consolidate their understanding of 3D shapes.
After a short times tables test, which we do at the beginning of every week with our Year 5s (9/10 yr olds), I explored some vocabulary and basics of reflective symmetry on a grid using SMART Notebook. We briefly revisited the shape symmetry we had covered in the previous week and I ensured the children were now thinking of a line of symmetry or mirror line independent of any one shape.
As a precursor to reflecting different shapes in vertical and horizontal mirror lines we used simple colour patterns reflected in a grid and a simple flash activity from Primary Resources. On the class IWB we completed some together and I highlighted some possible areas that could be problematic – we counted the squares to and from the axes and all of the methods used to check the position of reflective symmetry.
I remember using this in my first year of teaching in a computer suite. On Tuesday the children worked in pairs on our class laptops to challenge each other in making a pattern and then completing the correct reflection. I had planned to continue on to do some work on paper but the practice and familiarity they gained from just working with different coloured squares will contribute to their work later when reflecting shapes. For a challenge children could work on a grid of four quadrants (2 mirror lines) and a random pattern and for those needing more support they could continue with the single mirror line with adult support.
As the children were working on their laptops I had the class Nintendo Wii running with Big Brain Academy and called out a pair of children at a time to use it. I used it in Solo mode and the Practice of the game Block Spot (Visualise category). I would have preferred them to have played against each other or in a small group but that would have included other games – I wanted them to just focus on visualisation of shape to support the week’s topic. In the pair they took it in turns to answer 10 questions about matching a random 3D shape made of coloured cubes to a choice of four. All of the blocks on screen are spinning and so recognising the features quickly and their similarities is tricky.
You can see what they got up to in the Block Spot game in this short film taken during the lesson.
I was pleased to see that the rest of the class were not distracted by the Nintendo Wii being played on the IWB and other then a few cursory glances were getting on with their own reflective symmetry task. The novelty of using the Wii in lessons has already worn off!
The motivator of using the Nintendo Wii as a way to support learning is a no-brainer to me with this age of children and I am pleased to further establish it as a learning tool in the classroom. It is not simply good enough anymore to adhere to the argument that they use too much of these things outside of school – they are very powerful ways to deliver learning and engage children. It is just a case of finding the correct game and context.
I also discovered another game within Big Brain Academy that I would use within any future lessons on symmetry. It is called Art Parts and is described as follows:
In this Visualize activity, players must complete the sample painting by stamping the missing pieces onto an unfinished scene. When it becomes more difficult, Art Parts flips the unfinished scene sideways or flips it upside-down.
There is much more to explore in terms of using the Wii to support the general learning environment of a primary classroom – but I think that in my classroom I have seen it become a source of great fun and an engaging learning tool.
Please let me know any games or ways you have used your own class Wii to support your lessons.