Ludicrous Learning

Just in time for the holidays, Language Magazine presents a showcase of gift ideas for the ludic learners in your lives

Around The World
Around The World’s goal is to make sure kids and parents are ready for an increasingly borderless society by providing a playful and inventive platform for bridging today’s cultural divides. The award-winning game encourages players to circumnavigate the board and voyage the game’s primary trivia categories of Culture & Customs, Geography, Language, and People & Places.

Bilingual Light & Learn
This is a learning toy loaded with bilingual activities for ages four and up with activities in English and/or Spanish.
The activities cover topics taught in school to reinforce the learning of letters, phonics, spelling, quantities, numbers, and logic. Players choose a page and activity in English or Spanish, then touch the animal on the membrane above the page that corresponds. The unit then begins with instructions in English or Spanish. The child uses the dry erase pen to do the exercise and the flashlight to view the correct answers.

Brainy Baby
The Brainy Company offers a line of educational DVDs, CDs, books, toys, and games for children ages nine months to five years. The Spanish & English Learning Collection bundle features a Spanish DVD, matching Spanish & English Board Book and matching Flashcard set in one pack. All of the Brainy Baby Spanish & English products feature real children, familiar everyday objects, bright colors, and engaging visuals.

The beauty of Dabble lies in its simplicity. Each player selects 20 random tiles and has five minutes to spell five words (a two, three, four, five and six letter word). Can’t do it? Toss in any number of tiles, draw new ones and give it another go. When a player completes the task, they receive the point totals from the unused letter tiles of all the other players. First player to get 100 points wins.

Dicho al Hecho
Dicho al Hecho is an authentic Spanish enrichment, learning boardgame. It celebrates quality time, entertains, educates, and perpetuates colorful traditions. The focus is on the “dichos” and on transmitting this wisdom from one generation to the next. Designed for three or more players, Dicho al Hecho is a win-win game for everyone.

Dicho al Hecho is for ages 10 and above, and anyone seeking to learn and preserve this highly valued and timeless legacy of wisdom within carefully chosen words. The game instructions and game play are bilingual in English and Spanish. A Spanish-only version is also available.

Easy Translator
Smart Play’s Easy Translator is a new interactive learning toy that teaches children basic English vocabulary, picture-word association, and fine motor skills. It is primarily designed to teach English as a second language to children 3-8 years old. The English-Spanish sets are available now with French and Chinese to follow in 2012. Each card has a unique learning theme, colorful illustrations, and 10 bilingual word pairs.

Galloping Minds
The Alphabet and Phonics DVD helps toddlers and preschool kids learn ABCs, phonics and words. This award-winning DVD displays each letter in uppercase and lowercase along with an object which starts with the letter. The sound each letter makes is enunciated with the letter. Music by Bach and Beethoven, and live shots of animals keep kids’ attention.

Greek Baby
As parents and Greek Americans, the creators of Greek Baby wanted to find ways to carry on the culture from their parent’s village in Crete. They searched everywhere to find the perfect blend of fun educational tools to teach their kids and grandkids the important values, language, and history of Greece. Greek Baby & Kids offers a CD for ages newborn to three years.

The Hollywood Classroom
The Hollywood Classroom uses blockbuster movies to speed language acquisition. These reproducible lessons contain three levels of lesson plans per film: high-beginning, intermediate, and advanced and are comprised of: (1) a summary of the film (written to level); (2) extensive “pre-view” vocabulary lessons; (3) conversation questions for use with small groups; (4) detailed grammar worksheets; (5) a comprehension check; (6) lessons on idiomatic expressions; (7) in-class role play activities; (8) homework; and (9) multiple choice tests. The CATESOL Education Foundation partnered with the author to create the Project, a non-profit endeavor offering schools access to these lessons through grants

KLOO Language Game
Within a few seconds players can create sentences and learn foreign words using KLOO’s unique Color Card System. Special language principles inside the game mean players can start with absolutely no knowledge of French or Spanish. Players score points by making sentences and learning words as they race through Spain or France on special game boards. With KLOO, students can build their vocabulary quickly. Soon, they will be able to construct useful sentences and play from a range of 16 different card games. The game contains four decks of vocabulary cards and an optional game board.

The LanguageGames site features online and mobile games for novice and intermediate language learners. The games build listening skills, vocabulary, and automaticity. They can be played with custom vocabulary to align gameplay with learning outcomes. Basic games like “True or False” and “What’s my Line?” feature simple game mechanics and even support two students playing together on one phone or tablet. Intermediate games like “The Shopping Trip” and “Transportation Trouble” are more complex, and require the player to solve problems and perform tasks. Complex games immerse students in a 3D virtual world with play exclusively in the target language.

Language Detective Game
Remedia’s proofreading and editing game turns students into detectives as they search for mistakes in over 130 different sentences. Players earn points as they correct mistakes in spelling, word usage, language usage, capitalization, and punctuation. Contents include a gameboard with spinner, six pawns, and instruction booklet. It is helpful for students who need extra practice sharpening proofreading skills or as an interactive reinforcement of skills already mastered. Grade levels 4-12.

Let’s Go Guang!
Let’s Go Guang! Chinese for Children by aha!Chinese is a fun, interactive way of teaching Mandarin as a second language. A team of linguists from the Beijing Foreign Language Institute, former George Lucas animators, an Emmy-nominated composer, and educators came together to create an experience that entices children to learn. The program takes a bilingual approach introducing Chinese vocabulary along with English, which is then reinforced through the use of repetition, mini-lessons, and sing-a-long songs. Ling and Kai visit their grandparents and unexpectedly discover Guang, a fun-loving dragon who guides them through the rich world of Chinese language and culture, teaching children everyday expressions, like greetings, introductions, and numbers.

Little Pim
Little Pim’s unique Entertainment Immersion Method combines animation with footage of kids doing everyday activities. Each DVD runs for 35 minutes, in HD, and features native speakers. They are themed and can be watched in any order. The animated panda, Little Pim, using repetition and visual reinforcement of the vocabulary, offers a multi-media method of introducing vocabulary that children truly enjoy.
The series is available in various packages from DVDs to books to music CDs for newborns to six year olds.
The Teacher’s Kit offers downloadable lesson plans and worksheets as well as a Teacher’s Guide and classroom poster. Teacher’s Kits include three DVDs in the select language and a 9” plush panda, with the option of adding supplementary materials, such as flash cards and music CDs. Available in 10 languages, the kits are for general education, homeschoolers, and foreign language teachers.

Rainbow Rumble
With Rainbow Rumble, students from Pre-K up can develop oral language, vocabulary, critical thinking, and just about any skills you can imagine. Students shake the Rainbow Rumble to see which card pocket the color-match cube inside will point to. The chosen card then prompts students to perform one of a variety of activities, including identifying a picture, creating a rhyme, solving a math or science problem, or forming a sentence.

Sit’n Spin
Now with the Go, Diego, Go! Sit’n Spin, there’s a little rainforest adventure for explorer types. This Playskool product allows kids to spin off to the jungle with silly animal sounds, toe-tapping music, and Diego’s famous bilingual phrases like “Come on! ¡Al Rescate, Amigos!” and more. The game targets preschoolers’ favorite full-body fun: Spinning and twirling.

Synonyms is a new word challenge that entertains and educates in a fast-paced and fun boardgame. A roll of the die and a card is selected. The timer is set: Can you name three synonyms for smart? You have one minute to earn a letter — unless a competitor declares a challenge. Pass and challenge cards add strategy and competition to the game equalizing the odds for all players. Easy to grasp and fun to play, the difficulty of the game can be adjusted according to the skill level of the players. Over 400 cards with over 10,000 words, color-categorized according to difficulty level provide hours of exciting vocabulary-building fun.

Think-ets Teacher Edition by Think-a-lot Toys contains an assortment of 30 miniature trinkets which act as classroom aids for teaching writing, speech, emotional awareness, and community building. The trinkets are designed for storytelling and imaginative play to encourage kids to talk. There are also 10 games to play, including “What’s Missing?” “What’s Your Story?” and “Who’s Last?” It comes with three lesson plans and activities for ESL and other language teachers.

Truth or Dare
Truth or Dare for English Language Learners is an analog game designed to initiate and extend spoken output in the classroom. Integral to the design are mechanistic elements built to randomize responses and equalize the output of both the shy and loquacious. The objective is to dampen Krashen’s affective filter, dampening also L1 interference through the use of preparatory spontaneous-response exercises. Gameplay stimulates meaningful, student-centered oral output through a format that is anxiety-reducing and satisfying. ToD is designed for adult learners and their rich fount of experience that children simply have not yet acquired. Through gameplay adults leverage these experiences to the greater task of language acquisition. Children have a lot of advantages when it comes to language learning but this is one area where adult learners shine.

Twisted Tails
Twisted Tails, by Canadian non-violent games developer AHA! Software, is a reading game based on the classic fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. But it gives the old-time fairy tales a hilarious new twist by inserting randomly-selected names, words, and phrases into the traditional story framework. It is designed to strengthen the English skills of young learners in a recreational setting.

Webber BIG Nouns Photo Cards
This is a jumbo-sized 600 instructional card set to help children learn basic vocabulary words while engaging in multiple educational activities. In addition to a full-color photo, each card has a word definition, three Fun Facts and three Questions to improve a student’s ability to name, describe, identify attributes, compare and contrast, formulate sentences, and practice conversation skills. The cards are large; laminated for longlasting use; color-coded by category; and divided by tabs into 14 categories. The Instruction Booklet has A-Z Vocabulary Ideas with 26 versatile ways to teach vocabulary; a Picture Reference of all of the cards; and a handy Word Index.

Zingo! (Bilingual)
Based on the company’s Zingo! game, Bilingual Zingo! from ThinkFun is available in Spanish, French, and Hebrew. Designed for players ages four and up, it is a Bingo-style game that places language learning in an engaging, playful context. Cards and tiles feature images with English words on one side, and images with Spanish, French, or Hebrew words on the other. Players try to fill their Zingo! cards with matching tiles from the Zingo! Zinger, and the first with a full card wins by yelling “Zingo!” Rules can be adjusted to favor more or less competition and to vary game length.