For those that don't know, Spore is a game created by Will Wright, the same dude that created The Sims. In a nutshell, it takes you through 5 stages of evolution- you start off as a cell, then you sprout legs and come onto land as a creature, then you become sentient and enter the tribal stage, then you enter the civilization phase, then finally you blast into space and try to dominate the galaxy. Every step of the way, the decisions you make affect the type of existence you will have- aggressive, social, economical, religious, etc. There are many paths to complete domination!!!
Anyway, the game is pretty cool by itself, but one thing I've been doing with students is to use a small piece of the game that is available for free- the trial version of the creature creator! Just click here, click on "Try Now" and download for PC or MAC)
The creature creator is a really easy to use builder. You start with a torso that you can bend and shape however you want. Then you start adding parts to the creature- mouths, eyes, arms, legs, noses, wings, spikes, etc. Then you can paint the creature any way you like. And finally, you can take em for a test drive to see how they would walk, roar, dance, sing, and do flips. It's a really sweet program. I suggest you download it at the links above and give it a whirl (You'll have to install DirectX on your computer if you're using a PC)
Finally, the other cool thing is that it is very easy to take pictures and video within the creature creator. This media can then be included in all kinds of other creations- slideshows, digital stories, movies, wikis, etc.
Things I've used this for with students:
Character creation - I've had students in groups on wikis, creating characters together. Each time they add an attribute they have to think about what that means for the character they're creating (for example, if they put the eyes in the back of the head, what does that mean? Is this character paranoid? Does it run into things? How does that make it feel or act? How does that impact others around it?). It's a great tool to activate students' creative writing- once they've developed a good character, often their stories flow much more freely.
ESL and Foreign Language students: We've done labeling of body parts, vocabulary of the movements, etc. It's a great way to work on these things. One Spanish teacher had her students create the creatures, import pictures into Word, then write a descriptive paragraph in Spanish about their creature.
Genetics: I've been working with our biotech teacher for the past two years, using Spore for her genetics unit. It's really very cool- the kids are given genotypes and are asked to build the parents and then work out the Punnett square to guide them in building the offspring. Then they create a powerpoint that pulls pictures taken in Spore and describes the genetics principles they used.
There are other things I've used it for like creating charts from the attribute points, having students try to create a creature based on a novel's description (Goosebumps work great here), and a few other things.
Here are some documents I've created to use with Spore- feel free to use/pass on to whoever:
Anyway, this program is FREE, it's VERSATILE, and is very engaging to students. I highly recommend you give it a try!