My Games

As product development director of Aristoplay, I created more than a dozen board games from concept to prototype to store shelf. Mars 2020 was a classic (16 years in print!) and a well-reviewed bestseller. Here are a few other favorite titles.

The Play's the Thing Learn Shakespeare while you play the game and perform short scenes. Review:
My family and I really enjoy playing it. There are a few levels of play that allow you memorize quotes, recognize characters and their motives, and order the scenes.... After watching Hamlet my children were able to "perform" the play in the game perfectly. It really makes the play come alive. What a wonderful way to introduce Shakespeare to children.—Jennifer Duval

In the Land of Egypt: Storytelling Card Games

Who's at Home in the Animal Habitats?

NOVA True Science (licensed product with 900 science questions!)

Top Dog: Live the Life of Rover in 6 Canine Adventures (a top seller in Finland!)

A Time for Native Americans (biographical card game that doubles as a timeline and map)

Feeding Frenzy: A Population Balance Game (based on the tragedy of the commons)

Book + Toy

MUMMY: Yes, this is the one your kids will fight over. Yes, it is every bit as cool as it looks from this listing. Yes, every time you turn the page, another layer of the mummy peels off and you get a closer look. Yes, you will be so glad you got this book. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. —M Heiss

Looking for a well-seasoned writer of nonfiction or fiction? I'd love to hear from you.

Just a Joke

Q. What's the easiest way to learn astronomy?
A. By cosmosis.

Q. Why did the jumbo jet go on the Atkins diet?
A. It had a belly full of cargo-hydrates.

Q. What would Shakespeare say to a faulty computer?
A. "Now is the winter of our disconnect . . ."

Q. Why was Shakespeare nervous about performing at the Globe theater?
A. It was his greatest sphere.

From Greg Kostikyan:

Q: How many game designers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: We don't change light bulbs. We create incentives for our players to change light bulbs.

Q: How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The light bulb isn't critical path, so don't expect it before beta.

Q: How many art directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Does it have to be a light bulb?

Q: How many artists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to model the light bulb, one to texture the light bulb, and one to rig and animate the light bulb changing. But we don't have the bandwidth for that right now.

Q: How many product managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Our metrics indicate that changing the light bulb will not impact any of our KPIs.

Q: How many Q/​A (quality assurance) people does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Your submitted branch does not change the light bulb and is rejected.

Q: How many executives does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Changing the light bulb is not a contractual obligation for our next milestone. Forget the light bulb.

Q: How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Light bulbs aren't on the task list for the current sprint, but we hacked in some LEDs.

Q. How many game writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. That depends on what it needs and desires to change into.

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My Creations

Games, apps, animations, live video, and activities to get kids jazzed about exploring science and nature outdoors.

Alice in Kalimantan, an interactive travel and language journal.

Alice Field is an aspiring game designer and animator, an only child, who grew up traveling the world with her parents and sharing her adventures online.

I adopted the voice of Alice on Everloop, a social media site for tweens, writing digital journals, activities, games, and a steady stream of live, real-time posts.

I conceived, proposed, and created five interactive travel journals, with 22 embedded language games, told in the voice of Alice as she travels to Indonesia and Japan during her Gap Year.

In Episode 6: The Last Gas Station, I joined the creative team as narrative designer and created a 40+-page story bible for the fictional world and characters, along with the episode six design doc.

Players chase down the elusive Ladrone, a looter of ancient artifacts, while learning about ancient Mayan culture.

I'm a writer and narrative designer of video games, developing character profiles and back stories, designing the narrative arc and interactives, and integrating story with game play.

Throughout his life, Chief Joseph of the Wallowa band of Nez Perce struggled to keep his people's land in northeastern Oregon and to solve conflicts with white settlers.

His skillful efforts failed when the government allowed the white murderers of his friend to go free and soldiers ordered the entire Nez Perce population to move to a tiny reservation. A handful of vengeful warriors murdered 18 settlers, sparking the War of 1877.

To avoid bloodshed and certain defeat against a powerful force, more than 700 Nez Perce men, women, and children—many of them elderly and wounded—traveled 1,500 miles across several states, pursued by five units of U.S. soldiers.

Chief Joseph is best known for the famous vow, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

Read his tragic story in my children's biography Chief Joseph: The Voice for Peace.

Forensic anthropologist Diane France is a scientist who's leading a life of crime. That is, she's a bone detective who solves murder mysteries (and other mysteries) by finding and identifying human skeletons.

In her Colorado lab and traveling around the world, she has also "met" the bones of famous people in history, from Russian royalty to American outlaws and Civil War soldiers. Click on the title for more details.

Adriana Ocampo is a planetary geologist who has worked for NASA, the U.S. space agency, since she was a teenager. Her story begins in South America, where she grew up, but a passion for rocks and craters has led her all around the world. She explores Earth's past on foot, by leading field expeditions to seek out rocks that were blasted, melted, vaporized, and otherwise tortured by the explosive crash of an asteroid or comet.

Meanwhile, she investigates the fascinating features of Mars, Jupiter, and other planets through the electronic eyes of NASA's robotic spacecraft.

ESL/Language publishers: I have dozens of well-tested games and prototypes. What are you looking for?

I've been teaching English to immigrants for more than a decade and developed Letter Perfect English as a simple but flexible teaching tool. My learners have played 100 games and activities with this unique picture card deck, for beginners to advanced students, suited for use with teens and adults. The games develop vocabulary, speaking, listening, grammar, storytelling, and writing skills.

Crime Scene Investigation (ages 9 to 14, Lexile level 690, Accelerated Reader Quiz #112861) is the true story of the science, technology, and thinking skills behind collecting evidence at a crime scene. The book features interviews with crime scene investigators and real crime cases, including an art theft report that young sleuths can read for clues to "who dunnit."

Autopsies/The Body as Evidence (ages 9 to 14, Lexile level 690, Accelerated Reader Quiz #112860) explores how medical examiners treat corpses like a crime scene--searching every bit, inside and out, for evidence of how and when the person died. The last chapter features excerpts from an actual autopsy report and challenges readers to apply what they've learned to uncover a "smoking gun" clue to a murder.

Review by Booklist:
Young CSI fans will be engrossed by this title in the Crime Scene Science series. The well-balanced mix of case studies, scientific explanations, and descriptions of fieldwork offers a dynamic, behind-the-scenes look at crime-scene investigations. Hopping doesn't sensationalize; she focuses on facts: "a rotting corpse releases about 400 chemicals into the air." Even so, the graphic details and color photos may disturb some young people. A resource section of books and Web sites encourages further exploration.

Today's Weather Is . . . A Book of Experiments
Short features about wind power, making water from fog, city heat islands, and other topics motivate young children to explore weather with related hands-on activities. Accelerated Reader Quiz #43209.

My top selling game book includes complete, highly motivating games for kids who like—and don't like—math. Grades 3-6.

I also write 101 Brain–Boosting Math Puzzlers and Ready, Set, Roll! Math Dice Games.

Wild Weather! Wild Earth!
Wild Weather titles
Hurricanes! (available in Spanish)
Lightning! (available in Spanish)

Wild Earth titles

These true tales of natural disasters, including the adventures of scientists who study them and the personal experiences of survivors, will engage young readers (ages 6 to 9, Lexile levels 530-670, Accelerated Reader levels 3.8-4.1 with quizzes available). Where and when do natural disasters strike? Why and how do these dangerous events happen? How can you stay safe?

Some titles are currently available in used editions only.

Noun Hounds and Other Grammar Games
Turn a dull subject into learning games that kids actually ask to play. For grades 3–6. This was my bestselling language arts book. It is currently available only in used editions.

Best-Ever Vocabulary Games
These classroom-tested games motivate kids to expand their vocabulary the smart way—with word roots, patterns, and a meaningful context. For grades 4-8.

First Dictionary Activity Book
Children's Dictionary Activity Book
Two activity books, one for primary grades (1–3) and one for upper elementary (4–6), teach users of the Scholastic Children's Dictionaries basic reference skills.

Yes You Can! Teach Shakespeare (available in used editions only)
PUBLISHERS: Contact me if you're interested in middle school activities, simulations, and hands-on projects for almost any Shakespeare play. This creative material would make a dynamite kid's book!

Great American History Games
A classroom-tested collection of motivating games cover important history topics. Grades 5 to 8.

15 Primary Source Activities: American History
Plays, readings, reenactments, simulations, and other activities based on primary source text and photos. Grades 5 to 8.

MARS 2020
This fun family board game received rave reviews from customers at, a positive review and rating at, and numerous awards in the toy industry. It's endorsed by astronaut Jack Lousma.

All the material on this website is copyright © 2000-2018 by Hopping Fun Creations unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to visitors to download, print, and use the "Freebie" reproducibles free of charge for educational use only. Reproduction, reposting, or distribution in any form or media is prohibited without the written permission of Hopping Fun Creations.

Stories & Games

Born-Digital Products
Science and nature games, activities, animations, and more for ages 6-9.
A digital story told in narrated episodes, interactive journals, and social media.
Mayan Mysteries (Dig-It Games) is a narrative video game about archaeological adventures, with puzzles to solve and mini-games to play.
Children's Books
Read the sad, moving tale of a peace-loving leader who lost his land, many of his people, and his life-long fight to keep the peace.
The true science adventures of Diane France, forensic anthropologist. NSTA Selector's Choice, AAAS/SB&F Subaru finalist, starred reviews!
Adriana Ocampo found her path to science adventure through space-traveling robots and crashing asteroids! (FREEBIE science quizzes.)
The Body as Evidence (Autopsies) and Crime Scene Investigation!
Outdoor fun for 6 to 8 year olds.
Tornadoes! and Hurricanes! are my two best-selling books with 1.6 million sold!
A must-have card game set for English language (ESL/EFL) and language arts teachers and tutors. (FREEBIE ESL materials.)
My top selling game book!
Lively games and activities about grammar, vocabulary, and dictionary skills.
Great American History Games, 15 Primary Source Activities (plays, games, readings, and more) and more!
Race from Earth to Mars, an orbiting target, by fixing malfunctions and answering intriguing science questions. Endorsed by astronaut Jack Lousma.