My intention was to put this project in for the Microsoft Innovative Educators award but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to fill in the five page Virtual Classroom Tour application form.

I also wasn’t confident in it winning anything-so have decided to put it on my website instead.

At the moment I am teaching in Year 2 (6/7 year olds) and last half-term we were doing a project about ‘Food’. Specifically ‘Dairy food’ and the ‘Our Cow Molly’ Farm, in Sheffield.

I have been wracking my brain for ages trying to think of an innovative use for the Microsoft Tag (Useful explanation here), as some of you know I have used QR and Semma codes in school already and I didn’t want to rehash an old idea. The beauty with Microsoft Tag is that you can put any picture behind the code and it immediately has some visual reference, I wanted my project to utilise this feature but also be simple enough for 6 year olds to understand.

By using MSTag I was also bringing handheld learning into the classroom as to ‘scan’ a tag you need a Smartphone or ipod touch.

Watching the kids in my class play board games one wet play, I suddenly had some inspiration-why couldn’t board games be integrated with Smarphones ? It was then I came up with the idea to get the kids to design Dairy Topic board games that used MSTags for game directions or commands.

My lower ability group worked together on simple snakes and ladders games, scan on a snake and you go down, scan on a ladder and you go up! I provided an 100 square grid template and the children worked in Powerpoint. Here’s one example here-

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My middle ability worked on a simple ‘path’ game with a premise of lost cows. Using the imperative language of board games and the specialist vocabulary associated with dairy cows. Again I provided a template and they worked in powerpoint. Here’s one example-

 

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My higher ability worked on much more complex games,they had no templates as I wanted them to invent their own game boards. I also asked them to implement a ‘card’ system  (Like ‘Chance’ & ‘Community Chest’ in Monopoly) for forfeits. Their games also had to be about the life of a dairy cow. Unfortunately these pupils are still finishing their designs off and I don’t have any completed versions to show.

The kids have a great time playing these board games, we have groups of up to 8 players playing at once, using the teachers smartphones I borrowed! They are amazingly popular, it’s encouraging co-operation, reading skills, boosting self-esteem and most importantly utilising a range of technology to impact on learning. Notice how the technology always worked alongside the learning and not just the stimilus or all encompassing.

Both these boards are playable-if you have a smartphone you can download the MSTag app here. My original premise was for the boards to be played online with flash driven dice in Powerpoint, it’s a shame I couldn’t get this feature-so you’ll just have to use a standard dice and not a virtual one!

In case you’re wondering these boards are a culmination of a 7 week project, 1-2 hours a week, starting off with some basic object/picture skills, like re-sizing, grouping, order and word art. Then moving onto the customisation of MSTags, which is really easy (it has to be if 6 year olds can do it!).

You have to have a windows live account to create MSTags so I creating the tags, using the pupils instructions, they all used the free-text option and when you scan the codes you only see game instructions.

I think for 6 year olds my pupils have done an amazing job, I hope their work inspires educators out there to  have a play and maybe next year I’ll get my act together and make time to do a proper application!

I’ve put the two board game examples on Google Docs Snakes and Ladders and Cows Come Home!

Written by Julian S Wood - www.ideasfactory.me/about/"rel="author"
About me
UK Primary School Future Learning Technologist.I am into Experience and Fun Based Learning.I use web tools to stimulate writing. I've been Playing and Learning since 1970. Have some fabulous ideas now & again.. Check out my about.me profile!
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