|Image by Havok|
A system like the Nintendo DS is designed primarily for games, and games are created to engage a user for an extended period of time. Sure, you can buy something like Personal Trainer: Math for the Nintendo DS, but it's not really a lot of fun, and it's not really what the DS was designed for. Ultimately, the DS is all about games. Learning is incidental.
Fortunately, incidental learning is my very favorite kind. When students (kids or adults) are having fun with what they're doing, they're far more likely to absorb and recall the information than if they learn it another way. With that in mind, I do like to use Nintendo DS systems in my classroom. This is a really good time to ask for donations from your students -- lots of them will be getting the 3DS and have no use for their old systems. But failing donations, just get them to loan their systems to the class.
Great Games to Start With
If you're looking for a few fantastic games to start with, here are my favorites.Professor Layton and the Curious Village
I've mentioned this one before, and with good reason: it's an all around fantastic games. Think of it as a novel study with a hundred difficult math word problems mixed in. The difference is that the kids actually ENJOY playing this game. They are intrigued by the concept and love the puzzles. They do require occasional hints and reminders to actually READ the text (which is the only reason I include comprehension questions with the game).
Either way, this is an awesome end of year activity to pull your language arts and math units together.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
If you've never played the Ace Attorney games, you're missing out. They are funny, well written/translated, entertaining, and engaging. They aren't appropriate for very young children as they do contain references to murder (very unbloody, and not at all graphic), and the occasional strange character (if you've played the game you'll know what I mean... if not, well, just check out the perky gentleman below.
This is a great one for introducing concepts of taxation, municipal government, and services. Students control a city and have to balance their taxes and expenditures. If taxes are too high, people move out; if they're too low, they don't make enough to maintain services, and people move out anyway. It's not the most user friendly game in the world and takes a bit of explanation, but the students really learn a lot playing it. And it's a lot cheaper on the DS than the PC. The iPad version, by the way, is not nearly as complex and doesn't give as much of a challenge, which makes for less learning.
Super Scribblenauts and its predecessor, Scribblenauts, are both awesome ways for students to explore problem solving, creative learning, and even spelling. The game has students faced with problematic situations. To solve them, they write down what they want to appear. For example, write "T Rex" and you get a massive dinosaur that devours everything in sight. Only problem -- it might eat you, too. You get bonus points if you can get through levels without using violence. More engaging and educational than it sounds!
These are the four games in frequent use in my classroom. Hopefully they'll find a place in yours, too
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