Creativity and Innovation through Play-Based Learning
What if we told you that play-based learning would help children develop positive cognitive and psychological changes that aid their all-round development? Although the sentence might be a mouthful, it isn't out of the realm of possibility. According to the findings of the researchers, play-based learning is highly beneficial in enhancing not only one's socio-emotional actions but also one's cognitive abilities by granting the brain access to its dormant sectors and assisting in their rewiring thereby allowing for diverse growth in an individual. A concept that hasn't been acknowledged or implemented by most academic or educational institutions and one that many educators are now slowly opening up to
Like all other muscles the brain too is in dire need of some form of exercise. Think of it as putting your brain through a high intensity workout to build muscle and cut fat. There's a scientific term for that- Neurogenesis -or the development of new neurons, which previously was thought to stop shortly after birth by early researchers. Their new findings states that Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, is the idea that the brain has the extraordinary ability to reorganize pathways, build new connections, and, in some cases, even create new neurons regardless of one's age all through play. It's not just the kids who are able to reap the benefits of this rewarding exercise but adults too!
We at Luma World, consider ourselves fortunate to have crossed paths with some of the pioneers in the field of academics, social welfare, psychology and medicine all of whom have readily collaborated and combined efforts so that we may learn from their personal and professional experiences. Please allow us to share the positive impact that innovative play-based learning has had around the world. Their inventiveness in using this new found medium to deliver holistic learning experiences without any gender, cultural, racial or socio-economic bias.Innovation through game therapy: Mital Salia, who identifies herself as a Parallel educator/Game Therapist has been at the forefront of changing the rudimentary methods of education in our country to the point of asking her 13 year old ward to discontinue schooling and divert his learning mediums from textbooks to actual life based learning experiences which centers more on experiential learning exercises.
In her professional pursuits she has successfully implemented play-based learning in corporate work environments to help working professionals improve their vocabulary or oratory skills, deal with speech impediment and the likes. The results were more than satisfactory, her colleagues had a change of opinion and had their perspectives altered when it comes to looking at play-based learning as something that's only beneficial to toddlers and school going children, their expectations were minimal and the results through their own introspection were too pronounced to ignore.
Shouldn't these skills have been imparted to them through their cumulative study at school, college and other academic institutions? Skill building is such an essential tool when it comes to handing life experiences, something the present day and younger generations are missing out on, instead they have resorted to seeking acknowledgement from online apps.
Search engines can help them provide the data to be reflected on their project, at the click of a button, thereby depriving themselves of self assessment, critical thinking, problem solving and resilience to take life head on. With the advent of a new digitised medium of education catching everyone's attention, it should be noted that they can only provide superficial improvements, and not in-depth improvements.
An example is that of remedial action that a mentor (parent or educator) needs to provide to a child. Online classes often rely on data accrual and reporting to ensure that gaps in learning ability or application are provided to the mentor as a summary long after the task has been attempted by the learner.
Often, the observation of the lacuna in knowledge and the subsequent rectification needs to be in real time, something that play achieves so seamlessly. If Mark struggles with counting wouldn’t it be easier to see him err, almost unknowingly, when trying to move places while playing snakes and ladders and explain what he is doing wrong than get a bar chart summarising how many hours of counting exercises he’s tackled on a screen?
Games value the intellectual challenge of making decisions, forming and reforming plans, exploring and experimenting with different strategies. They propagate the idea of social interaction, the experience of coming together with others around a table, with a shared objective to have fun and see an extension of their personality unfold in front of their very eyes.
Learn more how games work as great tools in our discussion with Ms Mital Salia
Innovation as a factor to channel social change : It would be remiss of us to not mention that play-based learning covers a wide array of media of which board games are an integral component. It has been a part of daily life since ancient times, so why have we chosen to exclude them from the list in the first place? It's no wonder that they've always managed to adjust to the changing times, from calling it a national pastime to now attributing it to being one of the biggest contributors in helping kids and adults minimise their screen time.
They've always managed to adapt to the constantly evolving world we live in and spark social change. It's possible that the most important board game about social change isn't what you think. In the early 1900s, an activist named Elizabeth Magie created The Landlord's Game, which became remarkably successful. The game became a cult classic, with families and college students making their own copies and playing it in schools and homes across the country, especially in the Northeast and Midwest America.
Magie's aim was to teach players a "practical demonstration of the current land-grabbing scheme with all of its normal outcomes and consequences." “Let the children see the gross injustice of our current land system, and when they grow up, if they are enabled to evolve naturally, the minds of a generation of people will be changed,” she wrote. The Landlord’s game is now more commonly known as MONOPOLY.
Mumbai is home to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Toybank which takes pride in operating on a similar ethos to Luma World They believe that the onus of learning is not bestowed upon teachers and academicians but on us, collectively, as a society. Learning demographic of kids is primarily plagued by students who skip education midway in their early to late teens to fend for their family. Kids from underprivileged backgrounds or economically challenged classes are more prone to show signs of at risk behaviour in the impressionable years of their life when left without proper educational guidance.
Toybank's innovative approach is to develop programs and initiatives which would help tackle the problem and in turn draw attention towards focusing on the behavioral and mental growth of at-risk children.
Toybank works with institutions in both urban and rural India to create Creative Play Centers within their premises, where they perform educational play sessions, team building activities, and other development workshops using morally sound Board Games and Toys. These are all centered around Anger Management & Habit Formation via thought inducing play activities.
Toybank’s ethos reads as such, ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ Toybank recognises that early investment in at-risk children's cognitive and behavioural growth means that they receive constructive stimulation and nurturing environment to flourish,some might call it innovative but for Toybank it's necessary.
Their organisation has been proactive in organising game championship at remote villages in Maharashtra thereby connecting with kids from the grassroots level. Their innovative and considerate approach in eradicating the educational bias towards the class system is more than commendable.They have been impacting 50,000 students and counting as of April 2021 through their 350 odd play centres spread across 10 districts in Maharashtra.
Feel free to visit their website to learn more.http://www.toybank.org/play
Innovation in learning : Books, journals, films, seminars, training, and presentations cannot reach people in the same way that games do. Doing is the most effective way for people to understand. When they are active participants, they become invested and interested in ideas. Play-based learning games encourage people to engage in concepts through curiosity and excitement while creating memorable moments in the process.
Some preschoolers were assigned to play “number line” board games—that is, games in which players pass game pieces along a series of sequentially numbered spaces—in two separate experiments. The children were given multiple math tasks before and after the intervention. Unlike the children in the control groups, who were not provided game-based learning techniques showed little to no change while the children who had played numerical board games had gained superior mathematical skills.
Educators and academicians are baffled at how well students performed through this small intervention wherein complex ideas, which when presented through textbooks and presentations seemed to have much lower reception as opposed to infusing the same elements through gameplay. The students show a marked improvement in learning and understanding the ideas and concepts and were able to improvise on several learning methods.
It was a welcoming experience when Luma World’s creative exploits were recognized in a thesis paper by Klara Keleuva for the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The aim of this study was to find out how teachers can use recreational mathematics to pique students' interest in math and contribute to the educational process. However, since math is a difficult topic, students tend to frequently lose interest as the subject becomes more abstract devoid of story, narrative and the likes.
This study demonstrates how recreational mathematics uses a number of creative ways to hold students' attention and cultivate intrinsic motivation for math learning. The most popular recreational mathematics examples that have already been introduced in the classroom are through board games and puzzles. A wide array of Luma World’s products were used as a precursor to illuminate on the guiding principles of play-based learning.
Perhaps, then, the solution is that merely playing a game isn't enough. Intellectual and emotional breakthroughs are equally important.
Read more about her article here: How can teachers use recreational mathematics to spark students’ interest in mathematics and contribute to the educational process?
Innovation in family time : Creating board games that try and stimulate multiple senses and multitude of age groups, is another aspect of game-based learning. Most adults discount the thought of board games being an educational tool not just for their kids but for themselves too, being unable to understand and grasp this aspect of the game just because it is targeted at kids.
Among the many emotional and mental health benefits provided by play-based learning systems, is that it also acts as a bonding tool for families of all shapes and sizes, spread across the globe. Board gaming cafes are on the rise, where these places have a wide patronage of not just school going children but also working professionals, where the latter wouldn't mind braving an hour of traffic if it means that they'd get be a part of an socially interactive playing experience, something that video games can’t provide. The sheer sense of accomplishment (and nostalgia) that one is rewarded with is hard to replicate through any other digital or paid medium.
Several families have made use of Covid lockdowns to make time and be an active part of their child’s learning experience. After a couple of game sessions, one of the most common admissions from parents are reduced stress levels, bouts of laughter with their child, for which they didn't have to make use of their set top box or tablet or mobile phone. STEM based learning games which incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math have evolved to STEAM with the inclusion of A standing for ART!
Like we said, play-based learning systems are gradually making their mark and are being recognised by universities on the other side of the Indo-acific ocean. University of New york would be one, Winchester university would be another, where they have included board game playing as a part of their academic curriculum not just for students but also for their staff. Suffice to say apart from the emotional and mental benefits, students felt all the more at ease in communicating with their teachers, almost like an extended family.
Innovation in production design : Games when produced effectively are known to pique the interest in kids and parents. By channeling a game with an effective story line, theme and engaging graphics which already starts the gameplay in the mind of the child, it fuels their creativity.
Several instances where kids innocently and curiously ended up asking more about the world of robots in Alpha Steel, something which never happens while they watch similar content on OTT platforms or video sharing apps. Social interaction induced through production design, weaving an engaging story on the board is one thing, but to see those stories take flight in the eyes of a child is invaluable.
Guess the Fence, another educational board game produced by our team at Luma World, is met with the prominent feedback from parents stating surprise as to how their kids’ newfound knowledge of vertices and sides had left them amazed. Sometimes these games are so enticing to a child, concepts which otherwise would have been deemed as too difficult to teach, are now being broken down effectively without a workbook.
Another interesting case in point is Fracto, where each card is designed to visually explain fractions in different notations because, well, fractions can be shown as text, numbers, pie charts, bar graphs, etc. Educators are simply in love with the fact that now they can hold up a fraction and through a single card show the different ways it can be represented. The game then builds on this aspect allowing for different kinds of learners to apply their knowledge and succeed in imbibing the conceptual knowledge.
What is important to note is that innovation and creativity does not just limit to games but to play-based learning as a whole. Even our flashcards use the Magic GlassTM where kids play the role of math detectives to spy on answers. Something as simple as a flashcard can be made into an adventure by simply adding a nuance! And the kids love it!
Innovation in game design holds the key in laying out the framework from which educational concepts could be addressed by all through the medium of story, graphics and some kid friendly components,
Imagination Gaming, a UK based organisation, have been providing transformative learning opportunities to a wide range of schools and institutions since 2007. The 'Learn to Play - Play to Learn' theory, which has been recognised as a pioneer in their field, has been inspiring students, classrooms, and community organisations to provide learning and social growth without barriers to a diverse set of audience and game players. The reason many including us consider them to be one of the front runners of this social and educational change, has to be their willingness to reach out and make use of existing game based learning products from the world over, including Luma World.
To conclude, at Luma world we strive to create innovative concepts of games centered on play-based learning without having to reinvent the wheel or making use of technologically advanced, digitized playsets.
One of the biggest challenges of so-called “digital form of education” is that teachers have to learn and unlearn, even when a day matters in the development of a child. A lot is expected out of a young child who is brimming with curiosity and excitement to learn and adapt new things.
Seldom do we question our own expectations and the resources the kids have at their disposal to acquire these skills. Conventional methods of teaching have taken a back seat, and are getting repeatedly challenged with newer and more interactive and effective ways of teaching.
Instead of instilling a fear of grades in our children, the way forward would be to use play-based learning that promotes the development of moral skills such as patience, empathy, and compassion for other players, which ruminate and stick in the minds of children and adults, infiltrating other facets of their personalities. Play occurs actively, eliciting a positive response from children, while learning occurs subliminally.
However, given that a good game player must learn to control their impulsive streak, obey the rules, and reflect, it's understandable that gaming experience could translate to improved results on academic tasks that require focus, concentration and self-control.
Let’s keep the goal in mind: to create a new generation of conscientious thinkers who can apply knowledge to solve a variety of real-world problems. Importantly, for them to create and innovate in the future, we must do it today! Play is the way!