Bloxel Builders

Programs, Reviews

Basics:

  • What is it? Bloxels is a “hands-on platform for kids to build, collaborate, and tell stories through video game creation.”
  • What’s bloxel whats in the boxin the Box?  a black gameboard (13 x 13 grid) with a variety of small colorful cubes.  An idea booklet was purchases separately. (It looks like they’ve restructured things since we bought our Bloxels… the guidebook looks like it is now included.)
  • How Much?  $49.95 plus the free app for “Apple, Android & Kindle phones and tablets.”
  • Age Range?  box says ages 8 and up.  I agree. I think younger kids could use it, but the ability for the game to tell a story requires developmental skills younger kids don’t always possess.
  • How Did We Acquire it?  Library purchase after Bloxels blew up my Twitter and Facebook feeds this Spring after the NY Toy show. Ultimately the library bought 12 Bloxel boxes.

    Ideas for Use

This summer (July 2016) we had a Bloxels Club, a four week program where we all learned to use Bloxels.  I had this great idea that kids would create boards and share them with the other participants in the Club.  A few took advantage of this, but mostly they wanted to make their games and play.

We are continuing Bloxel Clubs this fall.  We’re having Bloxels 101, which is a registered program.  The Bloxel Club won’t be registered.  We have a dozen boxes to use.

Time Involved

We learned together.  Okay, I watched some of the tutorials before the club, and tried things out, but mostly watching the tutorials is all you need.  Then, be prepared to spend lots of time creating your story / game.

One-time or Recurring Program

I would say recurring. Bloxels has updated their app and the Bloxel board is needed to advance your game.  Kids are going to want to use the board.

 Extension Activities

All the elements needed for the game are included in the app.  Follow the tutorials and build your game with characters, animation, and options for enemies (purple blocks).  The ideas are limited to your imagination.

Skills You Need

Well, I’m not much of a game player.  So I needed to get some gaming chops….like jumping. I’m a lousy jumper.

Creativity.  The ability to tell a story.

Other Tools You Need

  • A working device (iOS or Android) and free app.

Bloxels has a lot of education tools.  Since I’m not a teacher and my purpose in using Bloxels is informal education, I glanced at the materials but created my own worksheet.  It was a brainstorming document that I hoped would help kids create stories in their games. If my theme is underwater, what do the bad guys look like? (Sharks, crabs, octopi).  What would powerups (pink) look like? (oysters with pearls)

Also, you need a light colored table for using the camera on the Bloxel board.

Good Stuff

The animation builder is fascinating. Once again, the tutorial is great.  My game was underwater, so I needed some underwater bad guys. My octopus couldn’t really move back and forth because I used all thirteen columns.  So I changed the colors of the octopus arms.  If you look in the lower left hand corner, it looks like the octopus is moving!  Crabby actually is moving.  I did that!

img_1675 img_1676

Frustrations

The only frustrations we experienced were with devices.  The program was advertised that kids had to come to the program with a working device with the app pre-installed.  Since kids tend to get their parents castoff devices, a few of them weren’t working.

Everything Bloxel related was great.

Ending Thoughts/Observations

I love Bloxels.  I like the creativity involved. Game creation with an informal coding language (color blocks) is a great activity for all ages.

Overall Rating: Bloxels is great. Highly recommended!

Here’s a few screenshots of my game:

Circuit Scribes (Guest Post)

Guest post, Reviews
I put my husband, David Hrycewicz, in charge of Circuit Scribes during last weeks Students Involved with Technology conference. I had purchased these kits from a Kickstarter campaign.  When the kit came, I sort of freaked out and didn’t know what to do with them.  I was able once or twice to complete the circuit, but would I be able to do with kids?  I doubted myself.  I put off opening the kit and sharing it with kids and then the conference opportunity fell in our laps.  Dave was great with the kids.  He doesn’t normally work with kids, although he’s done a lot of training.  Listed below is his review.  

Review: Tiggly Shapes

Other, Programs, Reviews

First things first: Tiggly Shapes are not robots. But they are still pretty great. I’ve discovered they are a great way to bring dimension to the flat tablet world. They also can be used in libraries pretty easily.

Basics:

The four shapes.

The four shapes.

  • What are they? Tiggly Shapes are a set of four shapes designed to work with the iPad and certain apps.
  • What’s in the Box? Tiggly Shapes.
  • How Much? $29.95
  • Age Range? Ages 2 – 6
  • How Did We Acquire it? My library purchased for patron and program use. 

How we use them:

We bought Tiggly Shapes to use with the iPads we let patrons sign out while they are in the library. When we came across Tiggly Shapes we thought they would be a great addition to our iPads. Our space encourages lots of play, so having the shapes go with the iPads was a nice complement to our early literacy efforts. Patrons simply ask for the bag of Tiggly Shapes when they sign out an iPads. We have loaded the three apps that work with Tiggly to each iPad so the patrons can easily choose which app they like best.

Playing with Tiggly Stamp

Playing with Tiggly Draw

There are three apps to use with Tiggly Shapes: Tiggly Stamp, Tiggly Draw, and Tiggly Safari. They each work a little bit different, but have similar play styles. Tiggly Stamp uses the shape to make different pictures set against various backdrops. Tiggly Draw lets you use the shapes on the iPad to create pictures of whatever you’d like. Tiggly Safari is a little more interactive. It asks for certain shapes to be placed on the iPad, and makes different animals. Tiggly Safari is by far the most popular app kids use!

Tiggly can also easily be used in Storytimes. I’ve used it with toddlers (age 2-3). Tiggly is a great compliment for when you are exploring shape themes. The apps are easy to use, and you can let the kids use the Tiggly Shapes on the iPads. It is a great way to incorporate some interactive technology with the younger set.

Skills Needed:

You have to be able to put apps on iPads, and that is it.

Good Stuff:

I love Tiggly! Our patrons really love using them. Once they see how they work, kids like using them with the iPads. I like how they allow for more motor skill development.

Frustrations:

I do wish there were some classroom sets for Tiggly. While I love what they do, I can’t help but wish they had a few more options for educators.

Overall Rating:

Great fun for the younger set!