An integral part of our development process is taking our games out to preschools to test with kids. The kids show us how they use the iPads, which inspires us to think about what’s still needed. Check out some of the highlights from the testing of our games!
As we delve further into this project, we’re finding out that there’s no one-size-fits-all game or type of game that can meet all the needs of preschoolers as they’re learning math. This video provides a peek at the various learning experiences we’re designing through our different types of games:
Several of our games are self-leveling, which means that they respond to a player’s performance, increasing in difficulty when the player is succeeding, or adding more scaffolding and support when the player is struggling. These games are particularly useful for teachers to see how well a preschooler knows the material, so we’re also working on providing a way for teachers to track their students’ progress.
Some of our games are collaborative, which means that they can be played by more than one person. While this type of game isn’t optimal for tracking how a particular student is doing, it’s great for learning from one another and developing the skills needed to work together and share. Our prototype testing at our preschool partner sites has allowed us to observe all kinds of collaborative play happening, and we’re very excited by what we’ve seen.
(Based on what we’ve seen, we think collaborative learning games will be the centerpiece of any impactful technology supplement in the classroom. While there aren’t a lot of examples out there today, we’re keeping an eye out. Check out this Tigerface Games app and let us know what you think!)
Our last set of games are sandbox activities. Like a real sandbox, which has no single purpose or goal, our sandbox games are designed for free play and exploration. We’re still exploring how to best use this type of game for math learning, but we know that the freedom to wonder and discover is crucial for math learning, and a free-play environment can foster that in the classroom. (Check out this video to learn more about a sandbox prototype we’ve been working on.)
Interest is high: are kids learning from iPads or are they novelty items? Will iPads be the norm in future classrooms? Are they the norm in present classrooms? Although many are skeptical, a new study finds that iPads in the classroom boost test scores. These questions directly relate to the NGPM project — how can children learn with tablets and what is the right blend of digital and non-digital activities?
WeetWoo! is a great app for the preschool market. Basically, it’s YouTube for young children. The videos on the app have all been reviewed and handpicked by parents and are deemed safe and appropriate for the age group. The layout of the app is really easy to use and the video content ranges with clips from Sesame Street, Caillou, Blue’s Clues, and many others.
As we all know, it’s often difficult to comb through the myriad of blogs, webpages, review sites, and research reports that reflect the current findings and trends in children’s media. PlayScience is a company that specializes in collecting field data as well as writing blogs about childhood technology, media, and play. However, my favorite offering from PlayScience is the Lab Notes; a weekly e-newsletter. Every week, the LabNotes bring together that week’s biggest articles, videos, and posts about anything dealing with childhood, technology, and media. Some of the topics from recent Lab Notes newsletters include:
- Sesame Workshop’s Best Practices for Preschool App Development
- The ways in which roughhousing and fantasy play promote development
- Preschool Kids are Taking to iPads with Ease
PlayScience is a fantastic way to stay updated on recent findings in childhood play and education without having to spend a lot of time investigating.
Thanks to the NGPM team for including my classroom in your project. The children, who otherwise might not have access to this technology and quality content, are always so happy to play with you and your cool tools!
The iLearn II report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Good stuff in here to support our initiative, especially around collaborative play, classroom apps, and math apps.