I began my journey in to games based learning about a year ago, and I often get asked “how does it work?”. I still don’t have a clear answer, but I do have interesting stories to tell about children’s interactions with games in the classroom.
I have recently partnered with European Electronique (@euroele) who are an ICT solutions company with an interest in promoting games based learning. This partnership has helped to define my ideas about games based learning, so this blog post offers another perspective on what games based learning could be.
In my previous post on games learning with the Kinect in a Foundation Stage setting I spoke about organising game play in smaller group situations and engaging children in activities related to game play. This idea remains the most effect use of gaming with children.
I introduced my class to Kinectimals as a whole class and we picked an animal together. Children watched the opening sequence of the game together and a few children had the opportunity to pet the animal. After this, the X Box was paused and it was the last time children engaged with gaming as a whole class – young children don’t like to wait their turn in a one player game!!
As part of a carousel of activities based around the racing car game in Kinectimals, children investigated cars and moving toys.
The gameplay focused children’s attention on cars and they were eager to design their own toy car for a Kinectimal to play with.
Children investigated how toy cars moved: remote controlled cars, wind up cars, push cars, electrical cars, programmable robots…
They built ramps for their cars to travel fast and slow, making ramps taller and shorter, steeper and longer.
Children also designed their own car on the iPads, helping to create a plan for a junk model car they might want to make themselves.
The game play acted as a stimulus for this investigative work, and so much speaking and listening came out of it.
As a teacher observing game play I was not necessarily interested in watching the graphics on screen, as that was the ‘wow factor’ for the children. My attention is on the physical skills the children display during game play. As the Kinect camera responds to gestures, and is controller-less, I am fascinated by the gross motor skills the children are practising without being told to do so by an adult. The children are stretching, reaching, jumping, crossing their hands over their mid-lines, rolling, balancing, standing on one leg. They make circular shapes with their arms and legs… The list is endless but is a great opportunity for some initial assessment of their physical literacy.
The gameplay helped to kick start a topic on Toys and was very effective in creating interest for our investigative work… And of course, the X Box is a new toy… What are old toys like…