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I have always believed that pictures are great instructional tools. Put a picture in place of a word and what you get is an instant mental connection.
Photos, images, or pictures have always helped to tie in the loose associations of what we see around us, with what we are trying to learn. Maybe, not as much for us adults, but for children, an image based practical teaching approach is often recommended.
One of the more recommended places to search out images is Flickr. The large number of images that are hosted by Flickr are a virtual visual treasure.
Flickr makes all the public images easy to mine by providing the Flickr API (Application Programming Interface) for non-commercial use. Of course, that’s not for us, the common folk. What we are more interested in are what the developers have done with all that code.
Some of it has been turned into better ways to browse for images. And some into games. Call them picture games, photo puzzles or time-wasters, Flickr-based games are brief enough to be played in a trice and easy enough for kids and grandparents. The fact that they are very easy to play is what makes them appealing as teaching aids too.
Here are 10 Flickr based games that are wholesome fun. Stretch it a bit, and you could get a lot of visual learning out of it too.
Do you notice things around you? Noticings asks you to upload interesting photos to Flickr tagged with the word “˜noticings’. Users and their photos are given points on the basis of these uploads. The photos are imported from Flickr and geotagged. The rules of the picture game are very simple – for instance, you get points for being the first person to notice something in your neighborhood. Or for spotting a lost object somewhere.
Noticings is about noticing interesting things around us and having a bit of fun in the process. It’s almost as if the game tells us to pause in our every day and smell the roses.
Flickr Sudoku [No Longer Available]
Some of Sudoku’s popularity should rub off on this Flickr inspired avatar. Just like the original Sudoku game, you get a 9×9 grid. Instead of numbers, you get to use 9 unique images from a column on the left. The rules of Sudoku still apply.
You can get new images from a particular user’s photo stream or from pictures with particular tags, or a combination of both. Also customizable is the image size, and also the difficulty level of the puzzles. But Sudoku sometimes takes time; so hit the save my game button to come back to it later using a bookmarked link.
And if you miss the numbers, check out its namesake – Flickr Sudoku which uses number pictures instead of digits.
Thirty photos arranged in a grid in this picture game and you have to munch your way through the ones which are matched with the keyword on the top. Navigation is using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Get seven right and you move up a level. Munch one wrong and you use up a life.
The site says that your fun play adds to the visual relevance ranking system which contributes to image searching algorithms on the web.
Question Pile [Broken Link Removed]
Question Pile includes a collection of games based on Flickr but hosted on Facebook. Of particular note is Where Is This (You see a geo-tagged Flickr picture and you answer where the picture is from) and One Doesn’t Belong (Pick the dissimilar Flickr image from a set of four, based on tags).
Another is the Sliding Puzzle where you have to solve a photo puzzle which is very similar to the Sliding Tiles toy puzzle.
Inspired from the classic Hangman game, here you have to guess four letters of the tag at a time and get the four Flickr photos.
Each time you put in an incorrect letter, a part will be added to the hangman. When you guess a correct letter, that blank will be filled in. The picture game ends when the Hangman is complete or you manage to get the four letters of the tag.
A player is shown ten successive images and the whole point is to guess a common tag that ties all these images together. The game gets its name from the pace set by the game – the faster you guess the correct tag, the more points you get.
Choose to play it as a guest or register with a nickname. Registered players can save their games and their high scores. You can also choose to play it alone or within a group.
Memry [No Longer Available]
Quite simply, Memry is a memory game that uses Flickr pictures as cards. Enter a tag in the field box and Memry loads the images in a 4×4 or 6×6 grid (as selected by you). The images are face down and you have to show them using mouse clicks. The objective is to match each photo with its identical counterpart.
When you match all the photos, you can choose to see the originals at Flickr. Using some parameters, you can play using a particular photostream and in an advanced mode.
>Phrasr [No Longer Available]
From the same guys comes this Flickr based picture game which takes a phrase that you type in and gives you images that go with it. The entire phrase is depicted is a series of images.
It’s basically a matching algorithm that treats each word in the phrase as a keyword and extracts corresponding images from Flickr. But the end result can be eye catching.
This game is from Big Huge Labs which has quite a lot of Flickr tools in its repertory. What you have is a Flickr photo, a hint of a few letters and a timer that’s on the run. Your job is to guess the title and enter it as fast as you can.
This game is fast paced and also lets you play against others that are online at that point in time.
Spell with Flickr
This is more for teaching your little one, how to spell and having some fun in the process. Spell out a word in the field box and the Spell with Flickr spouts out the spelling with picture letters from Flickr.
You can click on each letter to get a new letter picture in its place.
AlphaLearnr is another similar Flickr mashup that can be used to teach children alphabets in a very easy way. Click on the alphabets and you get Flickr photos for that letter.
Are there other neat Flickr based picture games out there? We would love it if you could add a few more to this list. Drop some names in the comments and let us know which ones you really like.