Love Teaching

Tonight in my college class we talked about different themes that would be interesting for young children. We talked about how they’re interested in what is going on around them. Right now is a good time to have a lesson regarding the important role fire jumpers and wild land fire fighters. Who knows, as early childhood teachers we might inspire a child who will someday grow up and creates better more successful ways to fight fires.

Scholarly Critiques #5 – Math plus Literature

Developing Math Games Based on Children’s Literature

By K. Cutler, D. Gilkerson, S. Parrott, and M. Browne

Maybe it is because Pi Day was just a couple of days ago or the impending doom of the calendar numbers reaching 4/15/2016, I have been drawn to another article about math and games. This brings in another subject, literature, which is considering I am needed to create a new syllabus for a literature class we are offering at the college this fall. Another reason that I choose this article is that this is another subject area that, in general, we continue to see a widening in the learning disparity. Children with limited access or may be from a low income family are struggling to keep up with their peers. Helping student teachers to find meaningful ways to demonstrate that learning is fun and all subjects are connected, is something that I try to focus on each semester.

The authors cite several different research papers regarding learning activities for young children and how this learning needs to be meaningful and come from the real world (in other words give the copier a break no more ditto sheets). The idea of using literature as a tool for expanded learning opportunities which involved all eleven of the different subject areas as well as the four different domains of: social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. Most of the paper discussed how simple board games with dice/spinners can help children with number recognition. Combine this with a board that follows a books storyline it also encourages the children to sequence and learn to use recall tools.

Socialization, turn taking, and understanding how to control emotions are a key factor to the games that were suggested. Though my experience with young children and games it is recommended to pair children who are newer to playing games with more experienced peers. This encourages socialization as well as the more experienced child gets to take on the role of the leader.

All games shown were material games so the children would have hands on experiences. Though there are books that have online/app games that children can play as well. I would be helpful if there were some simple programs that teachers could use to create games by inserting pictures and words from books in order to make a game that children could play on the computer or app. This would allow for a greater diversity of games for the teacher to offer. Also if the program was simple enough older children could help with creating the games and rewards (points) system.

I appreciated that the authors provided a variety of different game styles and examples for teachers to build off of. Though each game would be limited in its own way because it would be directly tied to a book, it is also very flexible in the fact that the teacher can select which type of game format they would use: from simple board to a board with different path choices, to creating a fish through the role of the die. This type of choice also allows for the teacher to recognize the different levels of learning that happen in the classroom in order to create a game that most children can be successful playing.

This article was easy to read with great ideas for teachers. I am going to add it to my online classroom for my student teachers to read because I think it will be helpful when we discuss creating games for children.

Retrieved March 18, 2016:

Play Journal (Extra) – Clue

Fun evening playing Clue with my hubby and son (25). My hubby commented on how he liked the traditional game better. That it was easier to follow who was where and how to reason out who was the killer. Interestingly my hubby never enjoyed Scooby-Doo as a child. Thus my assumption is that my son and I enjoyed it because we both enjoyed Scooby-Doo as a children and could relate to the characters and weapons where as my hubby could not. I wonder if they have a Clue game based on  John Wayne westerns.


Play Journal – Uno

Uno is one of those games that my family just loves. It was easy to learn when the boys were little and you can tweak the rules here and there to meet your own needs. We enjoyed a rousting game between 3 of us this Sunday night which was a great end to a busy day of working around the yard (thanks to my son Derek for stopping by with his chainsaw).

Uno is a simple card game with number cards from 1-9, special cards (reverse, draw two, skip) all in 1 of 4 colors. Then there are two different types of wild cards – regular and a draw 4. You start out with the typical hand (7 cards), the deck to draw from, and 1 card face up. You need to either match the cards face or the color in order to lay down a card from your hand or you can use a wild card. The object is to get rid of all the cards in your hand to win. Then you tally up the points of the cards for the other people and that is your score. Simple enough.

One of the difficulties is that the deck is huge that we have making it challenging to shuffle.The surprise always comes from how people decide to play. Will they just be keeping others from getting to Uno or will they be trying to win for themselves. Tonight my first plan was to win. BUT my son’s goal tonight was just to see how many cards he could get us to draw and keep his dad and I from getting Uno. He was quite successful in annoying his father for the first several rounds but then the cards seemed to change with Mark finally winning the game by reaching 200 points (that was the limit we set for the night because we were all tired).

Personally I love the games simple design because it is a game that families can learn to play together when the children are still young. There is a simple level of strategy involved. As children get older they will be able to decide if they want to play or hold onto a wild card when they can not match the face card. The flip side is that it is pretty limiting because of the format. Though creative players could add a depth and variety to the game. At one point in time my boys had decided that the different numbers did different things. This game the 8 was wild also. Maybe every red card counted for double points in scoring. Etc.

This game links me back to the paper that I had read earlier regarding games with exclusions and young children. This is a great game because no matter how many hands you loose you still get to play (unlike the Exploding Kittens where you had to wait for a winner before getting back in the game). It is important that all people feel involved.


Scholarly Critiques #3

Teaching the Relevance of Game-Based Learning to Preschool and
Primary Teachers

The first quote is what drew me into the article, “Game-based learning has been found to promote a positive attitude towards learning and develop memory skills, along with its potential to connect learners and help them build self-constructed learning”. In higher educations we talk often about students views regarding learning. I teach a couple of 100 entry level courses and I see student coming into the beginning of class as if learning is a struggle and they would rather be anywhere else but here. Views of what learning is, especially if they are negative views, can and do affect the way that students perform in the classroom and on the different tasks assigned to them. It is easy to confirm this in our culture, just stand on a street corner and ask people their views on math and how they would feel if they had to take a math class to keep their jobs. Negative views would abound.

Cojocariu and Boghian quote Prensky (2001) when discussing how games meet the needs for learning in part through enjoyment, passionate involvement, structure, motivation, ego gratification, adrenaline, creativity, social interactions, and emotions. At first the ego gratification threw me off but as I thought about it more, students do receive an ego boost when they do well on an assignment just like they do from achieving a new level on a game. Unfortunately our currently educational view held by some teachers is that learning should be individual instead of social. But when you look at the working world they will be entering there are few if any truly independent jobs. People are always in contact with others for a variety of different reasons in order to complete their tasks.

This article focused on the importance of helping preschool and primary teachers to understand how to use games as a learning tool within the classroom. Socially these games would encourage students to interact in a positive way to resolve a variety of different challenges. The authors gave 8 different stages that would be completed by the teachers.

  1. Introduction
  2. Title and aim of the game
  3. Presenting materials
  4. Explaining rules and giving examples
  5. Demonstrating the game by have a trial game
  6. Performing the game
  7. Complicating the game through adding versions (new rules, etc)
  8. Ending the game and Evaluating it

These steps gave teachers a clear guide on how to incorporate a game successfully into a classroom so that students would be engaged. The last step is key as through evaluation the teacher would be able to assess both the students learning and quantify if the game is worth playing again or if there needs to be modifications.

By giving constraints to the game in the beginning this allows children who are not familiar with that game genre to catch up to their peers without feeling left behind. The teacher would need to be aware of how each student is doing before complicating the game. When a game becomes too complicated then players tend to tune out or refuse to play.

The authors recognized the disadvantages of having game play in the classroom – time, teacher control, classroom interactions but then balanced them with the benefits  – students being able to develop several skills at the same time, creating a social connection, self-confidence, learning becoming pleasant and fun, discovery, and more. I agree that one of the challenges is that it is not easy to find ways to assess learning through games without having to add an additional task for each student. We know from standardized testing that both states and the federal government want to see specific data that supports the idea that students are learning and retaining information. They advocate for a need for standardization and regulation regarding the use of games in teaching-learning-evaluating.

To this idea my question is how can we as forward thinking instructors help our unfortunately test happy government to realize that this is a better way to assess then bubble tests.




Cojocariu, V and Boghian, I. ( 2014 ). Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences.Teaching the Relevance of Game-Based Learning to Preschool and Primary Teachers.  142. 640 – 646. Retrieved on Feb. 25, 2016.