Atomidoodle: A Game App to Unlock the Periodic Table of Elements

Just prior to Thanksgiving, I downloaded a new app called Atomidoodle for our iPad. It looked both educational and fun. We were driving up to Oregon to see family and in the rush to pack and load everything into the car, I neglected to tell the kids about it.

After gathering with family at my brother’s house, the kids went home with their Grandma for the night. We picked them up the following day and drove home. The drive takes about 5 hours and often, the kids will engage themselves in reading, practicing their Mandarin, and playing games or reading iBooks on their devices.

atomidoodleThe next week, I sat down on the couch and called them over to share with them the new app I had downloaded. Much to my surprise, they had already discovered it. “Atomidoodle! I love that game,” my daughter exclaimed. “I found it on the iPad when we were at Grandma’s house and I played it a bunch. It is so fun!”

We received the Atomidoodle app in exchange for an honest review. I also received monetary compensation for my time spent in reviewing the product.  All opinions expressed are true and completely our own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information. 

My daughter doesn’t play video games very often. Hearing her speak so highly of the game, I couldn’t wait to play it myself. I asked her to show me and I quickly discovered what she enjoyed so much. We have since enjoyed playing together (taking turns) on several occasions.

I love that she is learning as she is engrossed in a game. Trying to collect all the elements in the periodic table is also a great challenge to keep her motivated.


Within the game, there are pathways that the little atom travels upon. The goal is to move the number of atoms requested to the final destination before time runs out or the atoms crash into one another.

As each atom pops out of the generator, you direct it along its route to divide (using the fission widget) or combine (using the fusion widget) the atom to create different atoms.

Let’s say the game asks for a 5-Boron atom. If 5-Boron comes through the portal, you can lead it directly to the end of the route. However, if anything else arrives, you have to keep it moving along the course.

When an atom is directed to the fission widget where atoms are split as evenly as possible. Even numbered atoms are split exactly in half whereas odd numbered atoms are split as close as possible (9-Fluorine, for example, will be split into 4-Beryllium and 5-Boron).

Conversely, the fusion widget combines atoms. If the game asks for a 5-Boron atom, you’ll need to join smaller atoms together. Direct two 2-Helium atoms into this widget will result in 4-Beryllium. Direct a 1-Hydrogen to the widget together with 4-Beryllium and you’ll create the 5-Boron atom you need.

While the game aspect is so very fun, it is also educational! Each time a goal is reached, you unlock one of the elements on the Periodic Table of Elements. Fun facts and trivia are revealed along the way.

The game keeps you on your toes! As you race the computer to achieve your goal, target goal will change mid game. As you advance, the game board also changes and the atoms are generated more rapidly.


Atomidoodle, a gaming app by Hero Factor Games, provides kids a fun and engaging way to learn about the periodic table and practice their math skills. It is a simple, yet action-packed puzzler based on the Periodic Table of Elements.

Created by a husband and wife team who have enjoyed playing video games since their childhood, Atomidoodle is fast paced, mentally stimulating, and hard to put down.  Due to their lifelong love of video games, they know how to weave positive content into exciting, challenging, and rewarding gameplay, so that kids are enjoyably edified!

The latest release includes hundreds of interesting trivia facts. Atomidoodle is a virtual chemistry notebook come to life with speedy atoms, challenging mazes, and colorful doodles.

  • Draw paths through tricky mazes, and get atoms safely to the goal
  • Use fission (division) and fusion (addition) to create new atoms
  • Think fast to avoid explosions
  • Discover the elements and complete the Periodic Table
  • Unlock hundreds of facts about the elements
  • Eye-catching, hand-drawn artwork

Atomidoodle is available for iPads on iTunes and is now also available on Android tablets as well! You can grab it on the Google Play store.

Stay connected with Hero Factor Games


Oregon Coast Quests

We are avid Letterboxers and have always enjoyed the added fun of a scavenger hunt while on a family outing. When I first discovered Oregon Coast Quests, I was intrigued. I knew this was something we would enjoy. As it turned out, it provided so much more.

questsoregonLike Letterboxing, Quests are fun and educational clue-directed hunts that encourage exploration of natural areas. A self-guided activity whereby Questers follow a map and find a series of clues to reach a hidden box.

Similarly, the box contains a small guest book, a stamp pad, and a unique rubber stamp. Participants sign the guest book to record their find, and make an imprint of the box stamp in their clue book as proof of accomplishment. Then the box is re-hidden for the next person to find. The location of the clues and box remain a secret so others can share the fun. Oregon Coast Quest clues and boxes stay in place year-round.

What makes Quests different from Letterboxes is that in the box, there is additional information about the site. Additionally, the box is maintained by locals who are dedicated to keeping the box secure whereas Letterboxes are sometimes hidden by travelers and are essentially uncared for – causing many to go lost.


We were able to complete our first Quest when we drove up to Oregon to visit family for Thanksgiving. We had hoped to complete a second during the same visit but just didn’t have the time and it was raining something fierce.

There are presently 26 Quests in three counties (Lincoln, Coos, and Benton) – one of which is in both English and Spanish! We are excited for this new challenge. Upon completing 10 or more Quests, we are eligible to receive a Oregon Coast Quests patch! If that isn’t incentive – what is?

The Oregon Coast Quests book is currently being updated and a new edition is expected to be published in the spring of 2015. Until then, you can purchase a 2013-14 edition from Oregon Sea Grant

Norwegian Games: Let the Fun Begin

Have you ever played Norwegian Bingo? How about Hnefatafl? Or Kubb? Not only are these Norwegian games fun for all ages, they also provide a great opportunity to teach children about Norwegian culture. With three different games or spill to choose from, you’re sure to find something everyone will enjoy.


Norwegian Bingo

Calling out the numbers in Norwegian—one (ehn), two (tooh), three (treh)—gives this familiar game a little Norwegian flair. It’s also a fun way to teach Norwegian counting. Five in a row makes ‘Bingo!’ Using a pencil and ruler, help your child draw a grid on a sheet of paper to make the Bingo board. Number the grid and use coins as game pieces. Ready to practice the Norwegian alphabet? Instead of numbering your Bingo board, write and call out Norwegian letters—a (ah), b (beh), and so on.


Hnefatafl (pronounced NEF-uh-tahf-ahl), is one of the oldest games in the world (traced in various versions to the Vikings, Welsh, Saxons, and Irish) and is similar to chess. The Vikings played this game to sharpen their minds for battle. The goal is to capture your opponent’s pieces before the ‘king’ reaches safety.

Also known as The Viking GameThe King’s Table or simply Tafl, is one of the rare breed of games with two unequal sides. The defending side comprises twelve soldiers and a king, who start the game in a cross formation in the center of the board. Their objective is for the king to escape by reaching any of the four corner squares. The attackers comprise 24 soldiers positioned in four groups of 6 around the perimeter of the board. All pieces move like the Rook in chess and pieces are taken by “sandwiching” (i.e. moving your piece so that an opponent’s piece is trapped horizontally or vertically between two of yours).

You can purchase a Hnefatafl Tournament Set as shown here online or at a specialty game store.


Kübb, (pronounced KOOB) is a Viking lawn game that is played with three types of wooden pieces: kubbs, batons, and a king. Using your batons, the point of the game is to knock down the other team’s kubbs, and finally the king. Challenge your children to a one-on-one game, or get the whole family involved. Kübb can be played with two teams of up to six people.

If you or your child enjoy woodworking, consider making a Kübb set for yourself or as gifts. Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-made Triumph Sports Wooden Kubb Set as shown here.

For an instructional video, watch Justin Ross explain How to Play Kübb on YouTube. Kübb is a game for all ages and skill levels. For information about national competitions, be sure to check out the US National Kübb Championship’s website.

For more details on each of these games, subscribe to my newsletter for a free eBook, Norsk Spille (Norwegian Games). It is available for Subscriber’s Only.

Finishing Strong #11 – 14 May 2014


Thank you for joining us this week at Finishing Strong – the link up that focuses on middle & high school students.

finishing strong a middle & high school link up Education Possible

Our favorite posts from last week:

Heather from Blog She Wrote enjoyed reading Homeschool High School- How to Log Hours for High School from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus.

She said, “As a homeschooling mom with almost two high schoolers with very different learning styles, I found fellow co-host Tina’s post on logging hours for high school to be very helpful. I’ve also been dabbling with electronic vs paper and pen planners and working hard to merge the two happily. Thanks for some specific ideas on how to get the job done!”

Her other favorite post was Science Milestones: The Binomial Naming System from Eva Varga.

Heather shared, “I have a few favorite topics within biology that I love to teach and classification is one of them. Science Milestones make me smile and the binomial system is one of the legacies that Carolus Linnaeus left us from his work so long ago. Thank you Eva for bringing to light aspects of science many homeschoolers may overlook!”

Don’t forget to check out all of the co-hosts – Aspired Living, Blog She Wrote, Education Possible, Eva Varga, Milk and Cookies, Starts at Eight, and Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus.

Tina from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus loved Review: Henry Hudson by Ronald Syme from Tea Time with Annie Kate.

Tina’s interest was piqued by this book because last year when studying about explorers, she only found a handful of biographies that she considered worthy of reading by her middle school son. She will definitely be adding this book to her resource list.

She also enjoyed Board Games and Fun: Takenoko, Timeline, & Tokaido from Eva Varga.

She said, “Learning through games spans all ages and every family member can be involved. We really need to be sure we continue the fun of games through to the middle and high school years.”

Do you want to connect with other parents homeschooling older kids? Join our Finishing Strong Community on Google+!

Bloggers, by linking up, you may be featured on our co-hosts’ social media pages or our Pinterest board. We may even select you to be featured in a future post!

Guidelines for the hop:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, pinterest, facebook, twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 7 sites. If you were featured, make sure you add an “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

Share the love.

Add our button to your post.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Was your post featured?

Grab an “I was featured” button!

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

We love people who SHARE WITH US!

*By linking up, you agree for us to share your images, always with credit!

So tell us, what have you been up to?

Add your best posts that focus on homeschooling middle & high school students. Share your ideas, unique learning approaches, encouragement, and more.

Board Games and Fun: Takenoko, Timeline, & Tokaido

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the mass produced Monopoly, Life and Clue (among other) games that dominate American households. Sadly, there are so many more great games out there and many people are unfamiliar with them.

A friend of ours owns a specialty game store and delightfully, we receive new games for our birthday and Christmas each year. We have thereby discovered many fun, new games that aren’t found in chain stores. I would like to share three of our new favorites with you today.

This post contains affiliate links.

takenoko gameTakenoko is a game for 2-4 players that focuses around caring for a giant panda bear. This involves having a farmer grow different types of bamboo on their associated, watered fields and moving the panda around to eat it. The pieces are also beautifuland very high-quality; the bamboo and die are made of wood and the tiles of sturdy cardboard.

As the game progresses, players build a single garden (collaboratively or independently) and move a sole farmer and panda around it while trying to complete hidden goals dictated by drawn cards. The actions of each player influence his/her opponents directly and will often aid them in completing goals, adding depth to gameplay choices. When one player achieves a set target number of goals everyone else gets a final turn and then victory points for completed goals are totaled to determine the winner.

timelineThe Timeline Science & Discoveries Card Game is based on cards which you arrange in a chronological timeline. The game mechanics are super easy and it’s highly addictive – we enjoyed it so much that even after a winner was determined, we kept drawing cards just for fun. The cards are small, about half the size of a deck of standard cards, and each game comes with a set of 100. Additional expansion games include Historical Events, Diversity Game, Music & Cinema, and Inventions. The sets are interchangeable, and I’ve heard rumor that Monuments, Arts & Literature, Music, and Sports are soon to follow.

Everyone who I have played this game with has loved it. It has become an instant classic in my family. It is simple, quick, and fun. What I love best about this came, however, is the educational nature of the game design. You learn as you go! I can’t wait to incorporate additional expansions.


Tokaido is a beautifully illustrated board game whereby players enjoy a 33-stop journey from Kyoto to Edo, Japan. This is an essence a “race” game that relies not on cutthroat competitive mechanics, but instead rewards those with patience and calm. The goal of the game is to cleverly reach key destinations before other players and score as many points by the end of the journey in order to win.

The instructions state the game is designed for 2-5 players, but it is best with at least three people. One of the mechanics of the game is that whoever is farthest behind on the road gets the next turn. With each additional player, difficulty increases as resources become more hotly contested. You’ll be cutting each other off for panaromas by going to vista points, visiting shops to buy curios, meeting strangers, or donating money at the shrines. There are a variety of “characters” that play differently and thus require a tweak in your overall strategy, some who will naturally pit certain players against each other with their natural advantages.

STEM Club: Introductory Ecology Activities

Ecology is the scientific study of interactions among organisms and their environment, including interactions between organisms and interactions with their abiotic (non-living) environment. While the range of topics is quite extensive, for this level I chose to focus on just few – scale of organization, interactions between populations, symbiosis, and competition for resources.  The activities I selected are not typically considered labs but are fun, hands-on ways in which to engage upper elementary kids in introductory ecology activities.

ecology lessons for kidsWhen the kids entered the room, I asked them to copy down the following hierarchy into their notebook.  As they were underway, I spent a few moments quickly reviewing the definition of each (most of which we had covered previously) and how they built upon one another.

Life’s Hierarchy













solar system



Food Webs

The kids were already familiar with food chains and the terms carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore.  We thereby used a ball of yarn and a set of forest animal cards to create a food web. We sat in a circle on the floor and I distributed the cards randomly.  I then asked the kids to read aloud their card (mosquito, raccoon, oak tree, bark beetle, woodpecker, beaver, manzanita, wolf, bat, etc.) and as they did so, we connected the organisms (passing the ball of yarn to one another) to show their relationships for food, shelter, etc. Once everyone was linked, we talked about how illnesses, climate change, and population declines can effect the entire web. In doing so, the kids would let go of their part of the yarn to help visualize how changes and impacts to one component of the web affect the entire ecosystem.

Symbiotic Relationships

I first introduced the term symbiosis to the kids and then provided examples of three kinds of symbiotic relationships found in nature:  commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism.  As I shared examples, it soon became apparent that the kids were familiar with others, resulting in quite the lively discussion.  One of my favorite ecology activities is a game from Project WILD called Good Buddies, a variation of the card game, Old Maid.  After the kids completed writing the definitions in their notebooks, I distributed a set of cards to each group and we played for about 15 minutes.  A variation of the cards and instructions was developed by The Science Spot and can be downloaded here, Good Buddies.

 [ Admin Note:  I have been using Project WILD activities since my first year in the classroom and have had a lot of success with the curricula.  If you ever get a chance to take part in a workshop – I highly recommend it. ]


Another fun activity from Project WILD is Quick Frozen Critters – a variation of Freeze Tag or Sharks & Minnows.  In this game, students discover how competition for food affects the population and the importance of adaptation in predator / prey relationships.  The goal for the prey is to collect 3 food tokens by running across the field, picking up ONE token, and returning to the ‘permanent shelter’ (prey may collect only one token at a time and thereby need to run across 3 times). All the while, the predators goal is to capture 3 prey animals by lightly tagging them as they are in motion.

Pre-Lesson Procedures:

  • Find natural boundaries for playing field or use cones to mark out boundaries
  • Disperse “food” tokens on one end of the playing field
  • Place “shelters” (hula hoops) throughout playing field (3-4 depending on size of field and number of students)

Introduce the Game:

  • The field will represent a forest (or other habitat), the players represent predators (2-3 students) and their prey (the remaining students)
  • Explain that the object of the game is for each player to cross the field to the other side, pick up food tokens and make it back to your nest or home. The catch is that the predator is out there, lurking, trying to “eat” or tag its prey.
  • There are hula-hoops scattered across the field that represent shelter areas where the prey may hide (in a forest, for example, fallen logs, a cave, a shrub, etc.) Prey may stop here to escape the predator on his/her journey to obtain food. Prey may also try to elude capture by playing dead (freezing in place).
  • Upon capture, predators are to escort their prey to the sidelines and thereafter return to the playing field.
  • Play several rounds so students may have an opportunity to play both roles.


  • As soon as prey is captured, he or she becomes a predator. This will increase the ratio of predators to prey.  Make sure to discuss how this variation affected the game.
  • Have the students change the way they can move. Play a round where students can only hop, another where they can only walk, etc.
  • Play this game in the shallow end of a large swimming pool. Switch predator/prey species names (hula hoops will float).


  • What are some characteristics of prey species that help them escape from predators? A: schooling, fast moving, camouflage, countershading
  • What are some characteristics of predator species that help them catch prey? A: working as a group, fast moving, camouflage, countershading, teeth
  • Review definition of ecological terms introduced (predator, prey, population, community, ecosystem, etc.)