Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Game and an Easy Click to Fight Hunger

In case you haven't heard, there is a new, free, fun online game that just might increase your students' (or your) vocabulary and fight world hunger at the same time.

Free Rice provides 10 grains of rice for each word you correctly define. The grains appear in the rice bowl on the screen. The rice is paid for by the advertisers at the bottom of the screen.

As I write this, my partner Kent has probably fed an entire village one meal because he has a huge vocabulary and likes to play computer games. Of course, because he is so good at it, the words are getting more difficult to define. The game has artificial intelligence to adjust the difficulty level. Get three right at one level and it goes up to the next level. Get some wrong and it drops back down.

This is the kind of game to leave open on a computer in your classroom. See how full the bowl can be by the end of each day. No need to belabor the point that your students are also helping themselves while they help others.

Another easy way to fight hunger is to visit Click the button on the page and the advertisers pay for one+ cups of food for people in places struck by famine. No registration, no spam, just click each day and make a difference.

And while you are there, why not click the tabs across the page to visit the other click sites. One fights breast cancer by providing mammograms to women who can't afford them. Another provides basic health care for needy children. One supports literacy by providing books to children. One purchases rainforest land to preserve the rainforests of the world. The final one allows you to provide a bowl of food for an animal at a shelter.

These are all easy steps that any child or adult can take to make a difference. You could easily add them to your class website during specific units. For example, my fourth grade classes are studying rainforest and we need to be careful to not overwhelm the students will all the bad news about deforestation, extinction of species. Having them click each day on the rainforest site can give them an immediate way to feel like they are part of the solution.

My third grade classes study basic human needs and usually gather funds for the Heifer Project. This year, I'll suggest that they add clicking on TheHungerSite as part of their efforts.

Note: I think the site tracks IP address, so having your entire class take turns clicking from your computer may only count as one click. Might be better to do this in the lab or as homework-- and you can also click once a day from your classroom computer.