Games for your mind

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educational games for kids

Educational videogames

The use of educational games, e-learning and videogames in school education became one of the main objectives of many research centres around the world.

In United States Microsoft, Columbia University and New York University had started a partnership with the Games for learning institute, to conduct different researches on educational games, e-learning and videogames.
In Europe the need for an implementation of new educational tools in school education is the new scientific research’s challenge.
The aim of all these organizations is to conduct differnet researches on the use of games, e-learning and videogames as learning tools, trying to find the perfect implementation of these new digital tools  in school education.

The European Schoolnet recently completed a survey project called Games in School, developed to analyze the use of educational videogames in European schools.
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mahjong-piecesThe Mahjong (麻雀麻将),  is a board game for four players, born in China at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and now worldwide popular, especially in United States and Japan.

Its name means “bird of hemp” or “hemp sparrow”.

There are different versions about the birth of this board game, but the most legendary one tells that Mahjong board game was invented by a fisherman in China about 2500 years ago.

The story goes that a fisherman was on his boat and, during a storm, seeing his men worried and scared, he invented something to entertain them. It is said that the gods favoured the poor fisherman and inspired him the invention of a game with few pieces of wood. In a meantime, the fisherman carved the pieces with different symbols, and taught his men how to play this new board game. The crew was so interested in the game that soon forgot the storm.
The fisherman called the game Mah-Jong (hemp bird), remembering the little bird that always followed him during the fishing.

confuciusAnother legend attributes the invention of the Mahjong game to the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, around 500 BC.

This story (considered false by historians) has some curious correspondence with the reality: infact the pieces of the game called the “three dragons” represent the three cardinal virtues professed by Confucius: the red Chung (Benevolence), the green Fa (Sincerity ) and the White Po (love). It is said that Confucius had a great love for birds, and for this reason called the game  Mah-Jong (bird of hemp).

Many of the terms used in this board game, such as Chee and Kong, are explained with the Confucian origin of the game.

However, for historians, the Mahjong game was invented at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Some researchers sad that this game could come from the Madia (马吊) , another popular board game played in China at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.

There are only hypothesis around the real inventor of this board game. Someone say that it was created by Chinese army officers, to pass the time during the Tai Ping Rebellion (1851-1864), others that the inventor was a noble of Shanghai between 1870 and 1875.

But we like to think that the game of Mahjong  was invented either by the fisherman or by Confucius, because we’re so fascinated by old stories.

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Jacob L. Moreno

Jacob L. Moreno

The term role-playing game has roots in the history of psychology.
In fact, The first to coin the term “Role Play” was Jacob L. Moreno in 1934, after experimenting in 1921 the “theatre of spontaneity”.

Jacob Levy Moreno was a leading psychiatrist, thinker and educator and has been recognized as one of the pioneer of group psychotherapy.

In 1930 Moreno emigrated to the United States and began to develop the technique of psychodrama which is still used in psychotherapy: in the psychodrama technique the patient has to recall and act (like he is on a stage) a past conflict he had against someone.

Then the roles are switched and the patient plays the part of his opponent to try to understand what the other person has felt in that occasion.

But this first sense of the word role-play has no relation with the role play intended as recreational activity, derived from war–games. dungeons and dragons

The role-playing games were played for the first time in the late sixties at the University of Minnesota war-game society.
In 1971, one student Gary Gygax developed in  a war-game with medieval setting called Chainmail, wich become very popular among all Minnesota undergratduates.

But was only in 1974, when Gygax and his mate Dave Arneson invented and released the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons that that role-playing games became worldwide famous.
For this reason, D & D is considered the first modern role-playing game and had a lot of influence on later role-playing games.

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kids-chess1Germany,

This summer instead of going on holidays, a group of researchers from the University of Trier in Rhineland-Palatinate, studied the experimental introduction of chess in elementary school for the new academic year.

The results show that 6 years old children that have begun to learn how to playchess learn more easly not only math but also German grammar.

In other words researchers proved that children who play chess are doing better during all the years of the primary school.

For this reason chess are now considered as an established educational method in Germany’s  primary schools.

Chess help children develop logic and represents a great workout for their brain; chess can also useful to facilitate the integration of foreign scholars (more than eight million students in Germany are immigrants or children of immigrants).

This new method of using chess to improve students’ performances in traditional disciplines like grammar and math is now used in all the primary schools of the Germany.

The biggest problems for the teachers was when children learned how to play chess and started to beat them.  We must say that this  a clear evidence of how the pupils can overcome their masters.

For this reason now teachers are assisted by regular chess players during the “chess hours”.

I don’t know if you live in Germany or not, the fact is that scientific evidences show that chess are a great educational game and can help children to develop not only math capabilities, but also grammar and literacy skills.

The video below shows World Chess Champion Susan Polgar playing chess vs. the young students of a German school.

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egiptian-goose

Egyptian gooses

goose-gamejpg

Ancient Italian goose game

In 1640, a new board game called “Game of the goose” appeared for the first time.
The game of the goose was published in Venice (Italy) by Carlo Coriandoli. The first stamp of this game represents  a family sitting at the table covered with food off all kind with a big roasted goose in the centre.
The name “game of the goose” probably derives from this first stamp, although many studious  declare that the origin of the name comes from the particular player’s habit of using the won money to buy a big goose.
Certainly the game of the goose  has ancient origins, that can be tracked down in many documents recovered in ancient Egyptian tombs.
The goose game represents in a board game the eternal struggle of good vs evil: the goose must defeat evil overcoming all the obstacles of the game.
The game board of the goose game is composed by 90 coded boxes (in the ancient one they were only 63) arranged in a spiral. The aim of the goose game is to roll the  two dices and get from square 1 to square 90 before the other player. Yo do this we have to be lucky enough to avid the penalty boxes.
The goose game is very simple and it doesn’t request particular abilities, the player wins with the fortune of the dices.
The game of the goose spread quickly in all European countries and was really popular especially among literate and intellectuals. After several years the basic model of the game was reinvented and evolved in many different versions called with many different names during our history: the “owl game”, the “war game”, the “travel game”, the “train game”.

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classic-board-gamesOnce upon a time families used to have fun playing classic board games, this was before the tv and the digital revolution where fun and games are always condensed into a screen.
Some of us seem really nostalgic for those happy days, when families had fun together sitting around a table and playing classic board games, because they’re ready to spend a lot of money for classic board game.

The board games market begun in the early 20th century along with the rise of the new middle class demand for family entertainment. Soon many games designed by the most creative minds of that period became the favourite pastime
for children and adults and nowadays some of them are considered like pieces of art.
For a rare classic board game of the Georgian period, with illustrations and board in good conditions, like the one in the picture below, collectors are ready to pay up to 500£.

vintage-board-game

old board game

Classic board games are so called because some of them are still popular nowadays despite their old age.
Monopoly, for example, was launched in the UK market in 1935 and sold 200 millions of sets since then. Classic board games like monopoly, risk, connect four and many others remain one of the best options for all those parents who want to involve their children in a fun and recreational activity for all the family, instead of leaving them always alone in front of a computer screen.

In this sense classic board games can build strong and deep family relations and bring harmony and fun in your house, while you can teach always something new to your son.

For this reason classic board games are timeless, because they’re one of the funniest way to teach children about rules, loyalty, honesty, challenge, logic, problem solving and many other skills.

A new level of enjoyment for all the family can be reached with classic board games.

There are so many models that everyone of us can find the right one:
Could be a strategy game, a brain teaser or just a parlour game, the important thing is classic board games can get families around a table and offer an alternative way to confront themselves and learn about life.
I think this is something remarkable and worth to play if we don’t want to miss the best years of our life with our children.

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baby_glutton-doll
WASHINGTON
Americans little girls learn how to be a mother too soon with the new Baby glutton, a doll that simulate the breast-feeding with sounds and mouth movements. This toy, produced by Berjuan, a spanish company, comes with a special bra for girls to make the playing mother experience as real as possible.
The doll as special sensors and cries like a real baby when he needs more milk and does the burp when it’s filled. In USA the baby glutton it’s object of controversy: in fact, a lot of parents organization deeply believe that this doll may  push the girls to become mothers too soon increasing the risks of teenage pregnancy.
“breastfeeding is a natural process” object Berjuan’s marketing experts and  the idea behind the doll is to promote it by showing  little girls how to do it. But many parents are concerned  that the baby glutton could be a bad toy for their young  girls and not an educational game to teach children motherhood skills.
Honestly I  don’t think that girls need to use a doll to know breastfeeding at this very young age, there’s time for that; it’s true that breastfeeding is a natural process, but it’s also true that this is a natural process of an adult woman that not belongs to childhood and puberty and shouldn’t belong to teenage like many concerned parents suggested.

babyglutton

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Knights Templars

Knights Templars

The triple wall is the pattern of the popular board game called  Nine Men’s Morris in England,  Morabaraba in South Africa, Naukhadi in India, Molenspiel in Germany and Jeu de Moulin in France. The triple square symbol was find in Italy, UK, Ireland and Afghanistan and in a lot other regions of the Middle East engraved or painted in holy places for Christianity and Islam.
The aim of the Nine Men’s Morris is to form a row of three pieces along the board’s lines and leave the opposing player with no moves.

This is the playing function of this geometric concentric figure, but  we can find the same pattern in ancient churches and in the Chinon tower in  France, engraved on the walls by Templar Knights kept prisoners during the Middle Ages.

Some researchers suggest that this geometric draw could be the symbol of an ancient and esoteric ritual made by  knights Templars.

the triple square symbol

the triple square symbol

Triple square France

The triple square symbol engraved in a French cavern

For example,  René Guénon, affirm that this symbol represent, in ancient religous rituals, a sort of holy centre where the world energies can reach the right power to involve a man’s mind on a mystic level.
The origins of the triple square are still unknown but without any reasonable doubt we can say that its symbolism is related to the centre and the balance of the world and the human spheres represented by the pieces of the game have to converge to find the perfect equilibrium.
The geometric scheme of the Nine Men’s Morris game represent the route that men have to follow to find themselves without lose the right way in unethical directions. In this sense the triple square has a manicheistic meanining  deeply related to the Middle Ages religious symbolism.
God is the origin and the centre of all the universe and everything has to point in His direction; it’s clear in this interpretation the religious and ethical meaning of this symbol directly derived from the holy circle used by ancient civilizations of the far East to show the solar wheel also called the wheel of life.

Solar Wheel

Assyrian Solar Wheel

All those clues made the researchers think that the symbol of the triple square in the Middle Ages was not used as a game but as a religious symbol and only after several years this geometric pattern was used as the board of the game known with the name of  Nine Men’s Morris.

Nine Men’s Morris game

The Nine Men’s Morris game derived from the triple square symbol

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kandisky-gameWhen a parent is looking for a gift for his kid, he should find one of those clever games that will help him build his logical and creative mind.
Parent’s favourite choice in this sense has to be a life skill game such as an educational board game, a quiz game or a construction toy.
Kids love playing with construction and create new shapes with the same pieces and above of all they love playing a board game or a quiz game to learn unknown things.
All those kind of games have something in common: they help the kid to discover something new about himself and our society. When kids play these clever games, they start to use their capabilities and their knowledge to challenge the others in a competitive situation. This is the typical situation that everyone of us has experienced many times in his life;competition it’s the secret of the personal success, we compete for everything, a car park, a better job, or a faster car.
In this sense old fashion board games and educational toys are more modern and innovative than any kind of hi-tech toy because they can teach the essence of those deep and fundamental human relationship of our modern society that we call life skills.
These life lessons sometimes are more effective than many others teaching methods because kids love playing games more than attend boring lessons at school.
Education and games, it’s seems the perfect winning combination for an happy childhood.

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All the games are based on math, there’s not  sport match without a score or  a dice without numbers.

Board and card games need math and players have to do different calculations during a game.

For this reason math games can be, especially for children, a great Mathematics Teaching Method.

Every educator knows how difficult is teaching math to kids, and how many times he have to repeat the same concept before all the students understand it.

Using board games, like the one in the video below, is a nice trick to make some difficult mathematics  principles easier to understand.

Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, there are different games for each subject to keep the mind of the kids focused on the lesson topic.  Fun and math are really distant concepts in our minds because of the way we have been educated, what if we can make math lessons funny for the kids instead of boring?

When children  have  fun, they are more open to learn difficult math calculations, on the contrary when kids become bored they tend to lose their attention.

Math games can be the answer to this fundamental teaching problem and a very useful educational tool for kids of all ages.

The video below shows how kids can practice money values with a nice and funnyboard game.

Math is boring because sometimes kids find it hard, but math should not be a problem for any child and this is the reason why games can make math easier to understand.

Every child will love math if he enjoys the lessons!

more math games

fun math games

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