Park Play: Sandbox-style Learning

Equipartioning is a walk in the park with NGPM! Children have the option of playing in a variety of scenes throughout the game, each scene reinforcing the same math skill. Feed the birds, hula hoop, share apples, and play with clouds in Park Play!

Note: We are currently in the Beta stages of building, but expect the games to be made available to the world soon!

Birthday Café: Fine Dining and Subitizing

In Next Gen Preschool Math, the Birthday Café is serving up orders of subitizing, fresh off of the conveyor belt.

See how seating and serving our cartoon friends allows children to identify and recognize how many objects are in a group without having to count. (That’s subitizing!)

Note: We are currently in the Beta stages of building, but expect the games to be made available to the world soon!

Play Testing Tip #2: Come with a protocol.

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Play Testing Tip #2: Come with a protocol.

Arriving at your testing session with a plan for what you want your testers to take for a spin and what questions you want to ask will help you make sure you get the most of each session. Start with what’s most important to you (is the child able to navigate the game? Does he or she learn what I want them to learn?) and then follow it up with some nice-to-knows (can the child beat the highest level? Does he or she like the background music?). That way, if your session is cut short, you’ll still walk away with the information you and your team need to move forward with your game.

And be sure to watch and listen for those unexpected moments of insight! If you notice something interesting happening, going off-script is A-OK!

Play Testing Tip #1: Watch and listen.

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Play Testing Tip #1: Watch and listen.

When you hand over your game to a child, your first instinct may be to explain to him or her how to play. But simply watching and listening allows you to see if your game is intuitive enough for the child to pick up on their own and, even more importantly, to learn the expectations of these young technology users and capture the thought process and solutions of each child. In this way, you’ll learn more from the child, and that’s true kid testing.

SRI blog features Next Gen Math!

Most of today’s tablet software falls short of delivering what preschool teachers and students need… Unfortunately, many children, especially those most at-risk for poor math performance, are not exposed to the relationships between these simple skills and their mathematical meanings.”

The groundbreaking work being done by the NGPM team was recently featured on the SRI International blog. SRI, under the leadership of blog author Phil Vahey, is one of our research partners in this monumental endeavor of ours, who along with EDC will soon be taking our games and activities out into classrooms across the country to test them out. We can’t wait to see what they find out!

This Week in Boston

It has been a long and painful week in Boston.  We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have irrevocably altered so many lives.  We offer our heartfelt condolences to all those who have suffered, and our profound gratitude to the law enforcement officers, firefighters, medical professionals, and ordinary citizens who risked their lives to save others and ensure the safety of our entire community.

We dedicate ourselves everyday to the work of helping young children understand their world, but sometimes the world is a scary place.  Thankfully, Boston institutions like WGBH and Harvard University have developed quality resources to help parents discuss tragedy and disaster with their children.  If you need them, they’re here (“Helping Our Children Feel Safe”, and “Discussing Tragedy with Children”).

As the city begins to recover, we will continue to do what we do best, creating media that encourages children to learn, play, collaborate, and help each other make a world that’s a little less scary.

All the best,

Next Generation Preschool Math

 

PBS Introduces “It All Adds Up”

In a recent blog post, we shared a USA Today article about the importance of exposing children to math ideas early. In her latest piece for the Huffington Post, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger describes how her grandfather taught her to see the math in her own world when she was a young child.

Kerger is hoping to give all parents and caretakers the tools to provide for their children what her grandfather provided for her. Following a survey of parents and their attitudes towards teaching math to their children, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are launching a new “It All Adds Up” initiative with the goal of pulling together math videos, games, activities, and tips.

Check out the PBS KIDS Lab website to see one (or one hundred!) of these great resources. Be sure to scroll all the way down to see the “Math Activity of the Day” and “Ideas To Go” sections, which include quick and easy suggestions for parents. We’re planning to have a similar section in our Teacher’s Guide where teachers can get quick ideas on how to get kids engaged in math, math talk, collaboration, and more!

Stay tuned for more updates on our Teacher’s Guide and our games and activities as we begin the summer work of moving from alpha builds to beta builds!

Thoughtful Design of Digital Toys

We recently came across some great “Tips for Choosing Digital Toys for Your Children” from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media.  How does Next Generation Preschool Math measure up?  Find out below.

“Don’t insert technology when the real-world experience is better.”

The NGPM team believes in the power of play – both on-screen and off. NGPM integrates read-aloud books, board games, playground activities, and snack time mini-lessons to support children’s learning. Digital games supplement these activities and provide experiences that children can’t get so easily in their everyday world, like playing with clouds!

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“The best screen media—and by extension, toy-media hybrids—don’t use every amazing technology available, but choose only those that best suit their goals.”

There are so many ways to use technology to teach math to preschoolers. We started NGPM with devices that are intuitive to preschoolers: iPads. By prototyping over 50 games, we then identified specific game mechanics that would best allow children to explore the math topics and also engage various types of learners. Each game is designed for the unique learning goals.

“Well-designed tech toys—like high-quality screen media—leave room for the child’s active contribution.”

We couldn’t agree more.  NGPM offers traditional self-leveling games, with an objective, scaffolding, and advancement only upon mastering the learning goal presented; “sandbox” games, where children can freely explore; collaborative games for children to contribute to each other’s learning; and opportunities for children to contribute their own content, like creating their own characters with pictures they take of themselves.

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