Game on!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, Early Years | Posted on March 8, 2013

Today’s ICT session was about the use of gaming in teaching. This is an area some people may not be quite as open to. People believe that gaming has no educational value or that children spend enough time playing games without taking up valuable teaching time by using them in class.

I feel there are many benefits to using gaming in the classroom as long as it is something that is not relied upon all the time and is time limited. Many of the games consoles offer opportunities for children to develop their fine and gross motor skills. For example the Wii. This is a really effective tool to get children moving and improving gross motor skills. It may get children who are not particularly active up and moving their bodies, and due to the nature of some of the actions required to pay it may aid development of gross motor skills through throwing motions for example. It can also be of benefit to fine motor skills with having to grip the controller and press the buttons. The Wii could also be used to develop communication and team work skills. Some games allow children to work together in teams  to play the game. This would mean they would need to develop the communication skills to work together properly and this would also develop language and vocabulary skills. It would also reinforce the idea of working together to achieve, and turn taking. My only fault with the Wii, is that some f the instructions for playing the game may be a little complicated for some of the younger children, but this could be solved by adult support.

Bowling on the Wii

This is also applicable to the X Box which works on a similar concept of your body being the controller. Again this would offer opportunities to work on movement and physical skills. I however am not a huge fan of the  X Box. I found this quite difficult to control using body movements and found it quite hard to get the game to do what I wanted to and this could be an issue with young children.

Gaming on the X Box

Another piece of hardware we got to experience today was the Sony Playstation with the Rock Band game. This was great fun especially as nobody wanted to the the mic! No wonder none of us could win this game. This would be a great tool to use to get children working together and communicating. It was however quite a difficult game for younger children due to lots of instructions and the songs not being very well known to them. However this console could be used with other similar games where the songs are more familiar, such as Singstar and with adult support.

The last piece of hardware I tried out was the Nintendo DS. This was a great little device and I can really see how this could be used along side some of the more educational games such as Maths Trainer to help the children learn. This offers the opportunity for individual or shared work whilst learning about a subject that is very often taught through writing sums down.

Maths training on the Nintendo DS

Me trying out the Nintendo DS

With all these consoles and devices they may allow the child opportunities to try new experiences as some of the children we teach may not have access to games consoles at home. They can be used as a tool to support children with communication delay as they are very visual and may engage children in the learning if they enjoy being more hands on rather than sitting down writing. The gaming also offers children the chance to develop their self-esteem, for example by being able to achieve the highest score in the class or teaching another child how to play the game correctly. A child who struggles with conventional maths teaching, may be more stimulated and achieve better results through using the DS for example.

It is something I would consider including in my teaching, but generally I think it would be kept as more of a treat for the children. For example if doing a topic on the seaside, allow the children at the end of the week to have a go on the Wii sports resort beach based games.  It is something that would need a degree of adult support and supervision but I think there are definite positives to using gaming. I’m sure the teachers would have as much fun as the children too!

Another aspect of the session involved looking at some games based websites which provide gaming as a learning tool. My favourite of these is the CBeebies website which can be accessed at www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies. This website provides lots of learning games using characters that many young children are familiar with. It is packed with a variety of learning games and activities, songs and is bright and very colourful in appearance.

All of the gaming consoles and websites offer opportunities for learning and development in an engaging, exciting manner and I feel as long as they are used for educational purposes and the children are receiving learning from using them why not have some gaming in the classroom. Game on!