These days, it isn't always easy for a teacher or a parent to keep children interested in activities that involve learning. Educators often incorporate computer programs with brain games into classroom activities, and some parents make a concerted effort to have their children play games on the Internet that are more educational. Despite all of those efforts, the majority of games that kids really like
to play usually have very low educational value. BrainNook
is one exception where kids will find an exciting adventure with challenging games that feature fun brain games kids will actually like to play.
The premise of BrainNook is an overall storyline where the child can imagine that they are an alien crash landing on Earth. They can explore this "new" world by accomplishing missions that involve successfully completing brain games. While many of these games are timed and arcade-like, they are designed to help kids develop important elementary-level Math and English skills.
The games also cover a good range of age groups because the start of each session allows the child to choose from three difficulty levels, from easy to difficult. The impressive part of BrainNook is that the experience involves more than just playing brain games. Kids can earn stars so that they can buy parts for their space ship from the market. They can use pre-programmed phrases to chat with other players from around the world, and by gaining points with each game they can unlock other areas from around the world to explore.
BrainNook is currently in Beta mode, but it is functional enough so that teachers can already add a class to the site so that any student from the class can use the site without creating an individual membership. Of course, at home children can create their own character with their parents permission and by providing the parents' email address for authorization.
Create Your Character
The overall quality and professional feel of this site is very high. The graphics are clean and fun for kids. When you first get started, you get to create your alien. This will be your alien character that is going to go on an adventure to explore the new world called "Earth" that you've crashed landed upon. Pick the look, color scheme and name for your alien and then continue on.
At the very first login, the game launches in to a cute animated sequence of a space ship crash landing onto Earth. Your host and guide at BrainNook named Bella immediately greets you and informs you that while your space ship is very damaged, you can repair it by completing certain tasks, earning stars and buying parts to repair your ship at the store.
Complete Missions and Win Badges
The overall goal of the game is to fix your spaceship, but as time goes on much of the satisfaction children receive from the game will be earning points, stars and "badges" for all of their accomplishments. This approach is a wonderful way to motivate kids to accomplish each brain game successfully, thereby encouraging them to come back to the game often. The more they play, the more they'll learn.
Places on Earth
At each level of the game, the child can unlock new areas of the world to explore. Each area holds a set of fun brain games that they can play to earn stars and badges. In each area, you can see other alien characters that represent other kids that are logged into the site. Even though the website is a social network of sorts, there's no real interaction that takes place except for a tightly controlled version of chatting where you can choose what to say from a dropdown list.
Chatting on BrainNook
To play any of the games, you just have to double click on any of the objects that represent a game. You know the object houses a game because when you hover your mouse over the object, a pop-up textbox comes up that tells you the name of the game. Just double-click the image and you're in!
Some of the games integrate a timed goal to add a bit of excitement, which gives the game a bit of an arcade feel to it, while also helping the child to enhance their English or Math skills. In the case of the timed crossword game on the first level, the child must identify several words that are inside a scrambled square of letters in an allotted span of time. If they do it successfully, the reward includes stars, possible badges and of course the potential to unlock new areas of the world to explore.
Other games, like the money game on the first level, teach children important principles of mathematics, including how to put together different units of money in order to come up with the required total amount. It should be noted that monetary units used throughout BrainNook are U.S. dollar, so students from other areas of the world may need to compensate for that, at least until BrainNook integrates the ability to change currency units.
Exploring the World
Really, the most exciting part of this game is the ability to unlock and discover completely new places. At the beginning of the game, only one or two areas are available, but as the child does well with each activity, they will gain enough points to unlock new areas. This is a fantastic motivation for kids to continue with the Math and English activities for the ultimate goal of being able to explore new and exciting areas of the world.
Another aspect of this game that encourages kids to continue earning "stars" is that they can go to the "market" and purchase "collectibles." There are also items that the child needs to collect in order to complete the overall mission of repairing the space ship, and those items will appear in the market as well.
BrainNook really sets itself apart from the majority of other websites that offer educational games in that the games are actually well designed to provide a high quality of training for certain skill sets in Math and English. The inclusion of an interesting storyline and strong incentives that encourage kids to come back and continue enhancing their skills puts BrainNook high on the list of high-quality educational brain game sites for kids.
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