The gamification of education
The world is changing and so is the classroom. And so the approach to teaching should change too. Children are constantly asking questions. Why does the sun rise? Why is the sky blue? How do cars work? What happens if I do this thing? This thing of course being any number of either completely insane or even just curious things.
Games truly engage kids on a different level and incorporating them into not only the classroom but into your family life can present so many wonderful learning opportunities.
I am a big advocate of this way of thinking and there are so many off the shelf games that you can use to steer a conversation or use as a learning moment.
And I hear the sceptics saying this is a bad idea. That kids might focus more on the game than the content you're trying to teach, but that's where you, as a teacher or parent, have to come in.
You should be playing these games with your kids!
We take a look at five games on the market today that have amazing learning potential.
Minecraft is one of those games where the possibilities are endless. It encourages creative exploration, but you can plan entire lessons around a theme and get your kids to build and create worlds around a specific historical time or event.
It's a virtual learning lab where kids can show mastery of a scientific concept, help with math and physics skills and it also fosters collaboration with others.
The new Minecraft Education Edition for schools is especially useful to teachers. It enables a teacher to create worlds with their students and to integrate the curriculum easier.
Teachers are able to download comprehensive lesson plans from the Minecraft Education Edition website for kids from as young as 3 years old, all the way up to high school, covering subjects like maths, science, history, languages, geography, religions, business and so much more.
Minecraft is available on PC, Playstation 3, 4 and Vita, XBOX One and 360, Android and iOS from R335.
Little Big Planet 3Like Minecraft, Little Big Planet is all about imagination, physics, creativity and world building. This game not only fosters creativity, but also logic and consequences. It teaches kids that you need to do one thing before another and also the concept of cause and effect.
Little Big Planet is available exclusively on PlayStation from R260.
Pandemic the board gameThis is a great way to teach kids about how diseases are spread. In Pandemic, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world. The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hot-spots while researching cures for each of the four plagues before they get out of hand.
It's a great co-op game for the family with kids from the age of 8 able to play along. It creates a great opportunity to speak about how diseases spread and the importance of hygiene!
Elegy for a Dead World
So often games focus on maths, physics or some other kind of strategy. In Elegy for a Dead World it's all about writing and storytelling - something that is so often thought to be a by-the-way subject. This game focuses on writing fiction, with writing prompts, and is especially great for kids who don't feel confident in their creative writing and comprehension.
Elegy for a Dead World is available on PC for R159
STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Portal is chock-a-block full of these things. The very simplified aim of the game is to escape a scientific research lab using a Portal gun, which opens two portals to travel from one place to another. The game challenges the player to use teleportation to navigate obstacle courses. Your momentum doesn't change when passing through the portal, converting the vertical momentum of the fall into horizontal momentum.
It's a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of problem solving.
Portal 2 is available on PC, PlayStation 3, XBOX 360 and One from R219.
While all these games have an educational component, you know your child best. When using them for educational purposes they should always be supervised so you are able to guide the learning. It's such an organic way to learn. It's also easy to cover a range of subjects in one go rather than one specific topic.
And always make sure you check a game's age rating before you let your child play.
What do you think of incorporating games into classroom time, granted it involves the curriculum content? Or do you prefer a more traditional method of learning? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letters. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please let us know.