Friday, 8 April 2011

Mario Kart: WEEK 5! The Juniors Get a Turn At The Wheel...

I took Mario Kart into my first junior classroom (Gr. 4). It allowed for a bit more expansion in the activities, particularly in the area of writing and multiplication. Here are centers we used:
  • PEACH PARAGRAPH: Use the answer sandwich paragraph writing technique to answer Mario Kart inspired questions.
  • MARIO SPELLING: students had the option to make their own top 10 MK word lists (in addition to the ten I provided) and use in the various activities (such as hangman, create-a-word-search)
  • YOSHI READING: read the Mario Kart scripts (that I made) expressively then write your own
  • DONKEY KONG LISTENING: listen to the media on and answer the questions
  • LUIGI WRITING: in addition to using the ‘description wheel’ graphic organizer to describe a character, setting, or kart (or an invention of one of their own), expand those descriptions into metaphors and similes
  • BOWSER WORD WORK: use Mario Kart related homonyms, such as road and rode,  in various activities (hangman, sentence creation, word search)
 And we added two new centers:
  • DAISY’s NON FICTION TEXT FEATURES: do a scavenger hunt for non-fiction text features (lists, headings, diagrams, table of contents, etc) using the MK manuals (of which I had 2 copies)
  • TOAD’s INTERVIEW STATION: develop interview questions for a partner who will be a MK character, write down the answers in a script format
Some of the student responses were so fantastic, I have to include them here:

Luigi Writing: Descriptions, Metaphors, Simlies
Spiky Flying Goomba: His fangs are swords. His eyes are big, blue oceans. 
Light Bowser: His teeth are like mountains. His sword is as light as the sun.
Din: His eyes are as black as space. Skin is as red as a pool of blood. 

Mario Spelling: Create A Mario Kart Top Ten Word List
Skid, race, character, speech, chant, champion, game, yoshi, catch up, cartoon

Toad Interview: create questions for a Mario Kart character, act out the answer
Sample #1
Toad: What’s your favourite car?
Baby Peach: Stroller.
Toad: What do you say when you win?
Baby Peach: Whoooo.
Toad: Did you’re mom teach you how to race?
Baby Peach. Yes.
Toad: Who is your best friend?
Baby Peach: My mom.

Sample #2
Question: What is your favourite thing to do?
Yoshi: My favourite thing to do is race people in Mario Kart races.
Question: What is your favourite place to race?
Yoshi: My favourite place to race is Yoshi Falls.
Question: What is your favourite kart?
Yoshi: The egg mobile.
Question: What do you like eating?
Yoshi: I like eating apples. 

Yoshi Reading: Read, write and act out scripts with the Mario characters
Princess Peach: Are you racing with Bowser?
Mario: Yes I am
Bowser: Are you ready to lose?
Princess Peach: Are you crazy? When I raced him he nearly broke my car!
Mario: So I am going to race him.
Stage guy: Three, two, one, race!
Princess Peach: Good luck!
Bowser: ha ha ha

Peach Paragraph: Respond to a Mario Kart themed question using the answer sandwich format. 
The best features of Mario Kart are how you can pick your person, your kart and what track you go on. You can also win power blocks.
You can pick any people. You have lots of people to choose from. Same with the karts, you could pick any cart that goes with the person. You can also pick what track you want to race on. You can pick a hard level or an easy level track to race on. The Power Blocks give you different powers to help you win. They give you banana’s to make the other people slip and stuff like that. And that’s the best features!

I thought these show how Mario Kart can inspire writers. These were crafted within 20 minutes approximately while at the literacy stations, sometimes after doing other activities.

Mario Math: Multiplication
 The classroom teacher and I thought it would be great to expand on the multiplication task I did with the Gr. 3's, when I had students draw the explanation/solution for a Mario Kart word problem, such as "There are 3 baby bowsers with 5 spikes each. How many spikes are there all together?"

For the Gr. 4's we thought they could come up with their own word problems. Then they could draw a corresponding picture for it, plus show the number sentence--plus show it as an array (another math expectation for G. 4). We thought they could then post the results in the class...on a giant hanging times table we made out of those handy all-purpose teacher supplies: construction paper, old yarn and masking tape. 

So, after we did our usual sorting of the game data and applauding the 'winners' (which students always, always seem to love doing), we divided them into groups (the students who had more difficulty were given lower numbers to work with, such as the 4 times table), told them to choose a multiplication fact in their group (such as 4x5) and then fill out the corresponding graphic organizer. Then they could tape their page to the giant hanging display. They were to try to fill out the entire time table.

When they were done, they could do one of the multiplication colouring pages I had used in previous classes (again, a big hit...students were very excited over which characters were available, etc.). (I have never thought to see such excitement over math work sheets!)

Collaboration Rocks! One of the joys of implementing this project is that I get to meet teachers and 'hash out' ideas. I brought what I'd done in the other classes to the Gr. 4 teacher and we took some time to explore how those tasks might work with her students. We would get an idea, then one of us would add to it, then it would shift and transform again with another thought...all very jazzy and it made the planning process exciting because we were both feeding off each other ideas & getting enthused by it. I think its especially helpful when implementing a games based learning project to just have a brain storming session, throw ideas out on the table and see what comes of it. It can help solidify the project, get it off the ground running!

Due to timing, my project will take a one week break--but then I'll be back in a Gr. 2 then a Gr. 4/5 class! See you then!


  1. Hi Julie,
    This is so awesome! Can you tell me more about the software necessary to tweak the Mario Kart game ? What do you use to add objectives to the game? Thanks and congrats!

  2. Hi There! Glad you like the project. I'm a bit confused by your question, however. I never actually changed the MK game. I'm not techy enough to mess with a Wii disc! I've no idea if that's even possible.

    When I say I 'tweaked' things, I'm probably referring to making minor changes to the way I've implemented either the literacy centers or the math task in the different classes. Usually, for each class, I could build on what I had created before--just making a few 'tweaks' here and there.

    I hope than answers your question!

    Julie J.