Play FreeRice - 5 Tips for Meaningful Gamification

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Play FreeRice - 5 Tips for Meaningful Gamification


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Play FreeRice - 5 Tips for Meaningful Gamification
Oct 22 · 6 min read
How Freerice supports global citizenship
Donate rice while learning a new skill or language. More than 95 billion grains of rice have been donated.
Simply go to, select a topic you’d like to improve your knowledge on, answer questions and donate rice. Read more below.

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to online quizzing games regardless of the topic or content. I get enthralled trying to outwit my Facebook friends and move up the leaderboards spending more hours than I’ll admit here trying to do so. I’m not the only one either. Millions of people share this same addiction, which got me to wondering: is there a way that teachers could tap into the quizzing craze, ideally using questions related to course content, to teach material and greater life lessons all at once?

Enter Freerice.

In Short
Whether you use Freerice as a fun intervention for vocabulary acquisition or to reinforce algebraic principles, the bottom line is that playing this game is addicting in the very best way. If you only have time to use Freerice as a reward game, or if you completely integrate Freerice into your curriculum, your students will love learning by answering quiz game style questions. What’s more, knowing that your class is actually fighting hunger and making a positive impact on the world will make you want to fill just one more bowl of rice before you quit, or maybe two more.

With banks of established questions in 7 topic areas to choose from, including math, science, humanities, languages, and more, Freerice tests student knowledge by asking increasingly difficult multiple-choice questions while simultaneously facilitating students giving back to the world community. With each correctly answered question students see 10 grains of rice fill a virtual bowl, which signifies actual food that will be donated by sponsors via the United Nations World Food Programme to the hungry populations of the world. Both Freerice itself and the Freerice community provide ample ways to help teachers utilize the app to fit specific curriculum or classroom needs. Freerice combines student learning and global citizenship; simply put, it’s a win-win for everyone.

As an educator it’s hard to find the time to learn a new app and figure out how to appropriately implement it while enhancing the classroom curriculum. To help you on your way, I’ve put together the following list, which identifies 5 ways to use Freerice to enhance student learning, starting with the least planning and implementation time up to the highest.

1. Supplemental Learning Game Reward
Utilize Freerice as a reward for early test finishers, or to fill the last 5 minutes before the bell rings with a fun activity that’s still contributing to the larger good. When you’re facilitating computer-based testing, or if you’re in a 1to1 classroom, simply allow your students to play this educational game to keep them occupied while the rest of the class finishes up. Speaking of keeping them occupied, when you’ve finished up your activities for the day and somehow there are still 5 minutes hanging on the clock, Freerice can be a fun, class-engaging activity that will keep them learning and more importantly keep them from asking to leave early. Just project your Freerice game up on the board and have students earn rice together as a class. This is a great way to sneak a fun challenge and some altruism into those “neither here nor there” minutes at the end of class or between gaps in activity.

2. Flipped Model Learning Activity
Another easy implementation is to direct your students to participate in Freerice on their own time as preparation for a particular lesson. This can be particularly powerful in a flipped classroom, as students can participate in a drill and practice on Freerice, and then bring their experiences with them to class to apply what they’ve learned. This could carried out effectively in many ways, but one example could be using the human anatomy topic in the science subject area to reinforce main ideas from an online lecture or content video as an introduction to a unit on the body or as an introduction to a research activity the next day in class.
Freerice excels in differentiating questions within a subject based on a difficulty level system. Students can choose 5 steps starting at easiest level up to hardest level. Challenge your students to answer progressively difficult questions, or instruct them to keep it on easy and use the session as a flash cards for review of a topic.

3. Gamification & Digital Badges
Use Freerice as a method to gamify your classroom and award digital badges. But, before you start handing out random badges, consider a simple implementation would be to allow students to earn points in class based on how many grains of rice they earn, or perhaps allow them to earn badges representing new levels of expertise in class. For example, 500 grains of rice = Good-Doer, or 3000 grains of rice = Humanitarian. This can be awarded on a per student basis or even in small groups. Badges could also be aligned to learning outcomes or Common Core Standards, so each badge earned is curriculum based and represents an area the student has mastered.

4. Lesson or Unit Plan
Developing an entire unit plan while implementing a new tool like Freerice can be quite the challenge. Fortunately there are a number of resources available with developed lesson plans for teachers. As the World Food Programme has teamed up with the popular movie, The Hunger Games, consider teaching about world hunger by creating a theme-based lesson. Teach your students about the impacts of hunger on millions throughout the world utilizing the WFP zero hunger resources. Then taking a page out of the book, so to speak, organize your students into small groups or “districts” to compete head-to-head on the World Hunger subject questions to see who can earn the most rice and become class “victors”. Many teachers have already integrating Freerice in their own classrooms in one way or another, so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Borrow from teachers’ experiences using Freerice reviews at With over 50 teachers providing their reviews and experiences with Freerice, you’re sure to find what will work best for you.

5. Complete Integration & Curriculum Enhancement
A complete integration will require significant time and effort building Freerice into lesson plans. First, consider how to align Free Rice to the Common Core and to your own curriculum map. This may seem daunting at first, but fortunately for you, other teachers on have completed half the work by identifying how Freerice aligns with Common Core (access under the “standards” section). Also, remember that using Freerice as an element of gamification in your class can spark student attention and ignite interest in engaging more in efforts toward WFP zero hunger. You’ll want to create a classroom group to keep student scores and to challenge them to continue earning more. Leaderboards are created automatically when you create a Freerice group, but keep in mind that this will require time up front to help students create accounts. I recommend only inviting students from your class into the group to protect the privacy of your students.
What else do I need to know?
a. Establishing groups is fairly easy in Freerice. Helping your students create accounts to get started is a good idea as well. There is a feature that is yet to be released in Freerice Beta that will be specifically designed for teachers to create groups for their students.
b. The Freerice game interface has been recently updated to match eye-popping graphics like some popular apps. The web-based interface is functional and easy to navigate, and there is also an app version available on Google Play, and now on the Apple App Store.
c. This game hits the mark with students of all ages. I have personally implemented Freerice with graduate-level college students and with high school students in various classes and students absolutely love it.
d. Nothing in life is Free: For most other sites, I recommend turning on some type of ad-blocker to shield your students from advertisers and malware. However, for Freerice I highly recommend turning off your ad-block software because the advertising dollars spent on the page are paying for the rice that is donated. Someone has to foot the bill for all that free rice, right? Learn more about how “free rice” gets paid for by sponsors.
Free Rice - feed the world - play for free
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