Game-based learning is simply the use of games to enhance the learning experience. Educators have been using games in the classroom for years but to really get the most out of game-based learning, it requires a modern look at education.
Engagement is often lacking in the traditional classroom setting where information is laid out and children are supposed to soak it up like sponges. The playground encourages something very different. During games, your students will get swept up in intense concentration, unconscious collaboration, and self-directed ambition toward accomplishing goals.
The heart of game-based learning is to channel the engagement seen on the playground in a way that allows students to encounter and overcome meaningful problems.
Games are great ways to develop perseverance, critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills, cooperation, and a growth mindset. Rather than traditional memorise-and-repeat exercises, games help improve a child’s:
●ability to analyse a situation and make smarter choices
With the higher levels of engagement from game-based learning, young students have a much more positive attitude to problem solving and personal development. These benefits carry over into the classroom as children are more focused after playing, providing a positive feedback loop for learning possibilities. When the playground is seen as an extension of the classroom, opportunities for learning are endless.
Learning through imagination
Pretend play allows children to let their imagination go wild! To kids, it’s not just a playground: it’s castle, or a jungle, or a battle field. Themed equipment adds another layer on top of that From adventure fantasies to car races, game-based learning can be carried out with even greater engagement when a child’s imagination is activated. This type of play is critical to cognitive growth and social development.
All of these experiences help children learn more about the world around them and their role in it. Pretend play often occurs in groups and adds an element of socialisation as children learn to overcome the challenges of group dynamics and joint decision-making.
Learning new skills with physical play
Free play alone can be a tremendous learning experience for children. As they navigate the different structures and features of the playground, they must learn how to share equipment and cooperate for success.
The different structures and features of a playground can also be creatively utilised during game-based learning activities set by teachers or parents.
For example, take a classic game like hopscotch and use it for game-based learning. Teach them the basics first and you can progress the game in complexity by adding a few creative twists:
Using chalk, students can practice drawing the shapes learnt in class and interact with their own creations.
If they land on a certain square they must sing a song learnt in music.
They can play around with the size of the gaps between squares and see how far they can jump.
You can put numbers in each square and reinforce the maths you’ve been teaching.
Another idea is a game known as ‘alphabet mash-up’. Find space in the playground where students can practice writing the alphabet out in a straight line. Once they’ve got the hang of this, get them to do it in reverse, with their non-dominant hand or write mirror images of each letter. This game and its variations all encourage visual and spatial development.
These examples barely scratch the surface of game-based learning possibilities in the playground. Games can be modified for different ability levels, interests and to reinforce what’s going on in the classroom. The key point to focus on when planning these activities is to encourage engagement that supports the physical, mental, and emotional development of your students.
At Growth Engineering, we want to make education and learning fun. Our solutions provide engaging content to children and adults alike. If you’d like to learn more, visit our website or call us on 01753 840331.