Montana James and the Palace of Peril

Adventure awaits in the Palace of Peril! Split the class into two teams (or play as a single team against the dastardly Hans Von Greedy) in an exciting race to collect gems. Along the way, you’ll practice fluency in grammatical concepts or your own custom content, and avoid peril via cross-lateral movements shown to improve reading rates and comprehension!

How It Works

Montana James is a digital board game your class plays together. You can play as two teams or a single team vs a computer opponent. To play, you move around the gameboard and collect gems. Each space on the gameboard assigns a movement to the team, then presents a grammar question. When the question is answered correctly, the team earns a gem. The team that collects 10 gems wins! 

Note: Montana James is a GoNoodle Plus game and is only available you if have access to GoNoodle Plus!  Learn more about GoNoodle Plus.

Objectives

  • Incorporate cross-lateral movement that stimulates brain development and enhanced learning.
  • Practice fluency in grammatical concepts in a fun and memorable way.
  • Encourage healthy competition or whole-class teamwork in a game-based setting.

When to Play

  • Before, after, or during any ELA lesson -- especially when grammatical concepts are a focus.
  • Whenever students need a fun break or reward for performance.
  • After recess or lunch, as a way to transition back to academics.
Note: Montana James does not work on mobile devices or tablets at this time. This activity can only be played when using a desktop or laptop computer. 

Why This Matters

  • The cross-lateral movements in “Montana James and the Palace of Peril” stimulate both sides of the brain, which encourages neural development. See About the Cross-Lateral Movements in Montana James for more background
  • Practicing fluency in grammar improves reading comprehension and communication skills.
  • Getting practice with fun, low-stakes competition helps students become more resilient, improves classroom culture, and develops teamwork skills.

Quick Play Instructions

  1. Ensure the room is free of distraction, and that all students can hear the audio and see the screen.
  2. Select your grade level, and the grammatical categories you wish to incorporate
  3. Select to play as two teams or a single team vs the computer opponent.
  4. Follow along with the prompts! All students start by jogging. As the team(s) take turns and move around the game board, the game will demonstrate cross-lateral movements that the students should perform.
  5. Have your students answer ELA questions aloud. When the question ends, the current team goes back to jogging. When the team answers correctly, they earn a gem!
  6. The first team to 10 gems wins! You can choose to play a full game, or only play a portion at a time -- we’ll always save your game in progress.

Remember, you can play a full game of Montana James, or leave the game at any point. If you leave the game without having determined a winner, the game will automatically save your progress.

Playing Montana James with Custom Content

You can customize Montana James with your own custom question sets. Playing with custom content opens up the game to infinite options.

  1. On the game mode page, choose My Questions.
  2. Select your question set from the list of available sets. The game presents all sets currently available in your account. If you have more than 6 question sets, you can click the arrow buttons to see more.
  3. Click Play to begin the game.

The Create and Manage Question Sets article has more information.

The Cross-Lateral Movements in Montana James

The midline is an imaginary line that runs down the body, separating it in half vertically from head to toe. "Crossing the midline" refers to the ability to move a part of the body (e.g., a hand, foot, or eye) into the space of the other same part on the other side of the body. An example of crossing the midline is using your right hand to reach over your body and scratch your left elbow.
The two sides of the brain are connected by a fiber bridge known as the corpus callosum. When children do cross-lateral movements, the two sides of the brain are forced to communicate. This strengthens the nerve-cell pathways that link both sides of the brain through the corpus callosum.
Researchers and educators have discovered a positive link between cross lateral movement and academics such as reading. According to research conducted by Jochen Donczik, Ph.D., exercises that cross the midline visually and physically improve reading rates and comprehension in children by activating communication between both sides of the brain. 

The ELA Content in Montana James

Montana James is designed to help students practice fluency in grade-appropriate grammatical concepts. GoNoodle worked with ELA experts to create a bank of over 1500 questions focused on fluency in parts of speech, grammar, and language concepts.

Grade appropriateness is based on Common Core standards. Note that the content Categories and questions themselves vary depending on the grade selected. The adjust the “difficulty” of questions, you may wish to alter the grade selected for your game. See Resetting Your Game for more information.


The First Time You Play

Choose Your Grade Level

When you first play Montana James, you'll be asked to select your grade level which determines the grade-level of questions presented in the game. Once you've selected a grade level, you will not be asked again unless you reset your game.

View the Tutorial

The first time you play, you'll watch a short tutorial about how the game works. Click  Skip to skip it. You can always click the Question Mark icon on the main screen of the game to view it again later.

Playing Montana James and the Palace of Peril

Step 1: Resume a Game or Start a New One

When you open Montana James, you’ll have varying options depending on if you have a game in progress or not. If you have a game in progress, you can click Resume to pick up where you left off in that game. Click New to begin a new game. Beginning a new game will erase the game you previously had in progress.

Step 2: Select Your Category

Select a Category from the category select screen. Each time you start a new game of Montana James, you’re given the opportunity to select the grammatical categories included. Different categories are available at different grade levels, based on what Common Core standards indicate students should be fluent in at that grade level. You may wish to de-select categories your students have not yet covered. 

Step 3: Select Your Game Mode

Select your game mode for this session of play. You have two options:

  • 2 Teams: Pit two teams in your classroom against one another in a race for gems. You can divide your class however you wish: for example, one side of the room against another.
  • 1 Team: Hans Von Greedy is a computer opponent. In this mode, your whole class is on a single team. Hans Von Greedy plays “automatically”.

Step 4: Prepare for Gameplay and Start Jogging

Movement: Jog!
The game will prepare you based on your game mode. If you selected the 2 Teams option, you should clearly delineate the two teams at this time. We recommend each team occupy a shared space in the room to reduce confusion.
At the beginning of each game play session, both teams will start by jogging lightly in place, as instructed by the voiceover.

Step 5: Draw a Card and Move on the Game Board

Movement: Jog!

Both teams take turns in drawing cards. Drawing cards move the teams around the gameboard. Each turn begins with the drawing of a card. The card indicates the color of the space the team’s icon will move to. The icon moves on its own.

Both teams should be jogging in place whenever viewing the game board. 

Step 6: Exercise and Answer

Movement: Cross-Lateral Movement

Whenever a team moves to a new space on the game board, they are presented a cross-lateral movement to perform that corresponds to the “peril” in the space. The class should perform that action as shown on screen. 

Note that if you’re playing in Two Teams mode, only the team at turn should perform the cross-lateral movement. The other team should be jogging in place.

The team should continue that movement as the question is presented. Read the question aloud and have the students answer. You may wish to:

  • Have students answer aloud in unison.
  • Call on a student at random from that team to answer.
  • Have students raise their hand to answer.
Select the answer indicated from the multiple choice answers.

Step 7: Review Correct Answer

Movement: Cross-Lateral Movement
If the team answers correctly, they are awarded a gem. If the team answers incorrectly, they are shown the correct answer but do not earn a gem. 

Throughout the answer feedback, students should continue the cross-lateral movement and/or jogging as instructed.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 5 through 8

Movement: Jogging + Cross-Lateral Movement
The game ends when a team earns 10 gems. Steps 5 through 8 above will repeat. 

Note:
  • Some spaces on the game board are worth double or triple gems.
  • If playing in Class vs. Hans VonGreedy mode, the opponent moves automatically. The class is informed if Hans VonGreedy answers correctly or incorrectly.
  • You can play a full game, or leave the game at any point by clicking Close in the top left. Note that if you leave the game without having finished, the game will automatically save your progress.

Step 9: Winner + Summary Screen

When one team reaches 10 gems, they will be declared the winner. You can then review a Summary screen, which summarizes the number of gems earned by each team, as well as the number of questions answered correctly or incorrectly.

Saving a Game In-Progress

When you have a game session in progress, your progress will automatically save when you exit the game appropriately. In this way, you’ll be able to return to the game later if you were not able to finish. To save and exit the game, click Done to earn your minutes and go back to the main screen of GoNoodle. (Note: If you’re in fullscreen mode, click the ESC key on your keyboard first.)

Resetting Your Game

If you want to reset your progress and start over, click Reset on the main screen of the game. A message will ask you to confirm your decision.

Note: This cannot be undone. When you reset, you delete any game in progress and start the game as if you were playing for the first time.

Exiting Montana James and the Palace of Peril

If you're in fullscreen mode, click the ESC key on your keyboard or click the Exit Fullscreen button under the settings menu in the top right. Then, click Done to earn your minutes and go back to the main screen of GoNoodle.