Educational games are not simply for entertainment but are helpful in honing a child’s abilities in learned reasoning. This article gives information on why and how such games are an effective preparation for the Cognitive Abilities Test, or CogAT for short, that assess a student’s reasoning abilities not only with learning but with problem solving. A child’s reasoning abilities are important in or out of the academe.
CogAT measures three major domains which are linked to success in academics and help educators as well in decisions on student placements such as expansion of educational opportunities and, in some states, selection of students for talented and gifted programs.
Because educational games are specifically designed with learning in mind, they can not only help a child expand concepts, understand sequences, and reinforce mind development but help him or her learn certain skills while at play. Board and card games and puzzles are traditional educational games benefit a child’s psychological need.
In recent years, however, the range of educational games has widened and now includes constructing kits such as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) toys. Educational games meet learning needs with creativity, structure, passionate involvement, motivation, adrenaline, social interaction, gratification, a sense of accomplishment, emotional fulfillment, and fun and enjoyment.
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What is CogAT?
Published by Riverside Publishing, CogAT, as mentioned, is an assessment of problem solving and reasoning abilities of a child through verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative questions.
Each district or school uses its own criteria for admission to advanced or gifted programs for selected students. The formats of CogAT depend on the child’s age and come distinctly and independently from each other.
The Primary Format is conducted orally for early elementary students to avoid penalizing younger children who may not read as fluently as the older ones while the Multi-Level Format CogAT is used for assessing the abilities of older students. There are also variations in Forms 6 and 7 of CogAT which parents should be aware of.
Different CogAT Versions
Reasoning has always been synonymous with both problem-solving and learning and CogAT measures the domains mentioned in order to have a balanced perspective in obtaining a child’s potential for success in the academe.
Although CogAt Form 6 is continued to be used, most schools have already transitioned to the 7th edition or Form 7 of CogAT. The main differences between the two forms include:
- Questions for the primary level – kindergarten up to 2nd grade – are now picture-based instead of word based.
- There are now questions for figural analysis included for kindergarten level.
Riverside Publishing released the new CogAT Form 7 in July 2011 with modifications. The overall changes of this new version were made to make the test as fair as possible to students of the English Language Learner or ELL program. One major change between Forms 6 and 7 is the level identification.
In Form 6, Primary K, 1 or 2 was taken by younger children. Older students took the Multi-Level versions from 3 to 12. In Form 7, however, the tests have been designed to correspond primarily to the age of the child who regardless of grade level.
Additionally, children who take CogAT during the school year’s latter part will have the Fall CogAT version which has comparatively more difficult questions than that of the Spring version.
CogAT Verbal Reasoning for 3rd Graders and Up
CogAT’s Verbal Reasoning section for 3rd Graders and up, for instance, measures academic skills such as verbal classification, sentence completion, verbal analogy, and verbal reasoning that are emphasized in elementary.
To give you an idea of what the actual CogAT will be like, take a look at some of the general descriptions of each measurement:
- Sentence Completion: a sentence is given to a student for completion with one word taken out. The student chooses the word in a multiple choice setting to complete the sentence sensibly. For the sentence “Apples _______ on trees,” the choices are grow, bloom, fall, spread, and show. The answer is “grow,” of course.
- Verbal Analogy: three words are given to the student, the first two of which go together. The student must choose a word so that the third word goes in the same way the second word does with the first. One example is this: new is to old as wet is to _______. The choices include rain, hot, dry, sun, and drip (the answer is dry).
- Verbal Classification: a list with three words is given to the student who will choose one word from five that may be alike in the same way. Displayed words, for example, are Green Blue Red with choices such as color, paint, yellow, crayon, and rainbow (the answer is color).
Practice CogAT Test
For 5th and 6th Graders, Levels 11 and 12 in the practice test for CogAt Form 7 includes 176 questions, each with an answer key, covering verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative sections. Verbal assessment includes verbal analogies, verbal classifications, and sentence completion.
For the quantitative section, there are number analogies, number series, and number puzzles. Non-verbal reasoning is done through figure matrices, figure classifications, and paper folding. Non-verbal reasoning is the most challenging test a child can take since this has very little relation to formal instruction learned in the classroom.
It requires no prior knowledge or reading and may use purely figures and shapes for the student to work on.
The Benefits of Educational Games
Although games play a significant role both in informal and non-formal learning segments, they are still considered non-serious activities by formal education. This seems unfortunate because of the great potentials of educational games which often provide effective opportunities for learning in a non-traditional way.
Educational games offer learning more by experience than by studying. They also provide students such experiences which can be used in response to many different challenges because they have numerous knowledge presentations that create opportunities applicable to the real world.
Educational games not only support learning processes but also facilitate these in a more enjoyable and faster manner. Why do some education specialists choose to teach with games?
We all play games for the fun and enjoyment but there are also other reasons, each one different from the next, as to why games are played with education as the main purpose. How we look at them as students and teachers from different learning perspectives make their contextual results varied.
From a learner’s viewpoint, for instance, educational games may mean:
- Having fun in playing while learning at the same time.
- Taking a challenge and surpassing expectations.
- Achieving better scores, ratings or points.
- Getting the chance to experiment and see the outcome.
- Expressing feelings.
- Resolving conflict situations.
- Trying out several roles.
For teachers, educational games are a way to reach new generations of learners with mediums they are comfort and familiar with from childhood. Educational games can introduce new learning skills that raise interest and increase motivation, both factors which offer yet another opportunity to communicate and interact.
Game-based learning has the following specific benefits:
- Engagement and motivation are learned in a positive manner.
- Different skills are acquired securely in a contextual environment.
- The basic eye-hand coordination is followed by complex skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, communication, collaboration, and social skills.
- Learning is defined by doing, participation, creativity, and experimentation.
There is a plethora of games that may be used in a learning context but how does a parent choose which game for the child? The primary question is: what do we want the child to learn?
The choice of the educational game – or toy, for that matter – depends on what the learning objective is. The improvement of factual knowledge, for instance, should have quiz games.
If the learning objected is social interaction, a game that requires several players is applicable. For an educational game to be effective, there should be a linkage between action and subsequent feedback. This enables the student or learner to assess his or her performance level and teach him or her how to improve on it.
A good educational game should be able to provide a challenge that can match the learner’s skill level for him or her to master before going on to the next stage. When the student or learner is able to evaluate his or her taken course of action and decision in playing an educational game, his or her skill continues to be enhanced.
Introducing new and unexpected activities within the game then serves as a motivation to acquire new knowledge and skills sets. Motivation is especially successful when learning is by the constructivist theory.
List of Educational Games
The constructivist principle operates on interaction, understanding the whole situation, coping with issues, active participation of the learner or student, re-invention, experimentation with knowledge, manipulation, and reconstruction to make something organized, meaningful, and, hopefully, permanent. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the best educational games:
Perhaps the best DIY educational game of all time, LEGO teaches a child how imagination can make even the smallest parts be important in the overall scheme of things. Few educational games have retained their original charm but LEGO remains on top of the charts with its simple block colors and sizes for creation of almost anything, from houses to robots to cars and trains.
2. Goldie Blox
Developed by engineer Debbie Sterling to inspire future female engineers, Goldie Blox educational game is really a toy that taps into a female child’s spatial and verbal skills that enable them to create and invent. It features a smart girl named Goldie in a book which accompanies the construction toy. The learner helps Goldie in problem-solving through building things.
3. Jelly Tower
Young children and teens construct a jelly tower that should be wide or high enough in order to reach the checkpoint of a certain height. The challenge is to build a Jelly Tower structure that will be sufficiently sturdy from the ground and up with the use of few jellies as much as possible. This educational game teaches the learner physics by means of simple and uncomplicated terms such as the law of gravity.
4. Ello Creation System
This one engages young girls (between 5 and 14) in construction. Ello Creation System has incorporated traditional elements such as crafts with customization and beading, panels and shapes in colorful palettes, a building process that is intuitive and flexible, and a variety of themes for girls to create buildings, characters, decorative accessories, jewelry, and anything else they want or imagine.
Each set has 30 to a hundred plastic pieces of animals which a child can snap together to create actual animals like a dinosaur or cat. The pieces can be rearranged so as to for various fantasy creatures such as a horse-dinosaur-bird-cat. Each of Zoomorphs set’s pieces are also interchangeable with pieces from other sets which result in nearly limitless possibilities for a child’s imagination to create.
This marble roller coaster building set allows the user to make his or her roller coaster by following instructions provided with the construction kit. The DIY feature of SpaceRail has always enthralled users since it first came out. The goal of this educational toy is to ensure that he or she has assembled good quality tracks so the marbles run smoothly and glide evenly. More information about Educational SpaceRail Roller Coaster
7. Erector Set
Consisting of several metal beams that have regular holes, the Erector Set can be assembled using bolts and nuts and includes other parts like gears, small electric motors, pulleys, and wheels. The Erector Set’s distinctive feature is its ability to be constructed like one model and be taken apart over and over again to construct something else altogether.
8. Chaos Machine
With this game, education is on target as it requires creativity, modification, improvisation, and tuning new gadgets for construction of a rolling ball. After the machine’s basic framework is set up, learners start building tracks, adding gadgets, and installing ball lifts, adding more sets over time so the machines becomes larger. Problem-solving skills are definitely honed by the Chaos Machine and Tower.
With these educational games and toys, the learner or student acquires skills in figure classifications, quantitative reasoning, matrices, and problem-solving which are needed to pass the CogAT.
You may not see games or toys as educational at first glance, but going into the details of they are created, improvised, enhanced or improved, you will realize how they can be useful.