Play: Good and Bad

What does play have to do with embracing change and how does this impact you as a professional?

“Children use play and imagination as the primary mechanisms for making sense of their new, rapidly evolving world. In other words, as children encounter new places, people, things, and ideas, they use play and imagination to cope with the massive influx of information they receive.” (Thomas and Brown, 546 or 2399)

The importance of play is part of our development when we are young. “Play activities are essential to healthy development for children and adolescents. Research shows that 75% of brain development occurs after birth. The activities engaged in by children both stimulate and influence the pattern of the connections made between the nerve cells. This process influences the development of fine and gross motor skills, language, socialization, personal awareness, emotional well-being, creativity, problem solving and learning ability.  The most important role that play can have is to help children to be active, make choices and practice actions to mastery. They should have experience with a wide variety of content (art, music, language, science, math, social relations) because each is important for the development of a complex and integrated brain. Play that links sensori-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional experiences provides an ideal setting from brain development.” (Gerstein, 2013)

Up until today I had problems with the technology age of learning. I do not want my children spending all their time on computers, Ipads, Ipods, phones or playing video games. I want my children actually playing with their friends. Am I doing dis-serves to my children? I think not, but some articles and people say I am. I don’t care. After reading Gerstein’s blog (2013) I think that I can help my children with the technology age of learning by allowing certain programs and games and not others. My children will not play games that involve killing another person or monster/zombie. My children will not play a game that does not overall teach them something. My children love the just dance games for their Wii. I love the just dance game. We are up active and exercising yet having loads of fun. My sons love to hunt and so they play Cabelas hunting 2012. This is real for them because they go hunting as a part of our everyday lives. I do not believe in using technology as a babysitter.

“With touchscreens, simple programming languages, and other lowered barriers for human-computer interaction, kids are poised to gain a high level of technical proficiency. When you combine this access with the resources kids have—time, a highly plastic brain, and the freedom to experiment with new behaviors, interests, and ways of being—it is not hard to imagine a level of empowerment for kids never before seen in human history.” (Kidtech) We need to help our students and children understand the technology. Thomas and Brown say, the challenge is to find a way to marry structure and freedom to create something altogether new. (562 of 2399) As a parent and professional I am waiting to this to happen.

As a professional I play with technology to better understand it for my children and students. I do not always enjoy it but I give it a try. I am open to the idea of it helping me a teacher and helping my students. Currently I am playing with safari montage, khan academy and ABC mouse. I am engaged and learning but will my students be. To my surprise my health students were very engage in Mouse Party. They were learning how the brain reacts on certain drugs. The discussion to follow this activity was very engaging and informative.

Gerstein lists some simple suggestions to facilitate play with technology in educational settings:

  • Let learners bring in their devices (all types – mobile, gaming, robotics) for use in the classroom, to reinforce learning, and for show and tell.
  • Use some educational monies to purchase “fun” technologies – gaming systems, Lego robotics, iPad apps.
  • Give kids unstructured free time play using their and their peer’s devices.
  • Ask learners to teach you and the class about a technology he or she is using at home.
  • Give learners a choice how they want to demonstrate their content area learning – a video? a online game?  a board game?
  • Explore and integrate Maker Education as part of the curriculum.
  • Encourage and provide the time and tools for students to share their learning with a global audience – e.g. Skyping with another classroom, blogging, Tweeting, creating videos and newscast.


Enchantments and Curses. (2011- 11) http://www.iftf.org/our-work/people-technology/technology-horizons/the-magic-of-kidstech/

Gerstein, Jackie Ed.D. (2103-01-12) Let Children’s Play (with Technology) Be Their Work in Education. http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/let-childrens-play-with-technology-be-their-work-in-education/

Thomas, Douglas; Brown, John Seely (2011-03-12). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle Location 546). Create Space. Kindle Edition.



One thought on “Play: Good and Bad

  1. Alice, I have to agree with you about my kids’ spending time on technology. I, too, do not want my son to be playing his video games all the time. I encourage him to interact with others out of the technology realm. However, I have noticed that certain games has helped him become a better problem solver. He also is very creative in creating/building projects for his Lego team at school. His job is an engineer! I’m a little surprised because I thought gaming was just a waste of time. But, I am seeing that some, and I mean a very limited amount of time, is acceptable and beneficial.

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