Brainpop Webinar on Play, Gaming and Education

  • play is above the bare necessities of life
  • kittens deprived of opportunities to play –> hunt fine, but can’t interact with other cats and make decisions
  • playing with blocks builds up scaffolding for mathematical thinking
  • player’s motivations are entirely intrinsic and personal –> can’t be directed, needs exploration on part of kids
  • in games we willingly submit to arbitrary rules/structures to achieve mastery, but only if we are allowed to be playful
  • educational games aren’t always playful

4 freedoms present in play:

  • freedom to experiment
  • freedom to fail
  • freedom try try on identities
  • freedom of effort

spelling bee vs. game of Scrabble:

  • no conversations about word root, rhyming etc. in spelling bee
  • in Scrabble, personal competition, experimental, discussions/conversations, don’t need to have the biggest vocab
  • too often in school, we aren’t helping kids who aren’t good at something but simply rewarding those who are


  • not about memorization, but strategies/processes/habits of mind
  • learning that mistakes lead to the right answer
  • builds a scaffolding for future learning
  • recommendation for teachers: start your semester with a game (not too curriculum-related), use their experience with the game to launch into curriculum (e.g. algebra)

game structure:

  • multiple passages through challenges (tokens)
  • partial reward for partial success
  • emerging ideas
  • no brick walls – can play with another puzzle if stuck
  • no time pressure
  • not just one way to win
  • promotes conversation to verbalize thinking

biology: simulations are similar to games, may not be as motivating


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