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Learn by playing

2011  |  

perla_juegosPlay, as an activity which is inherent in the human being, favours psychomotor, intellectual, affective and social development, preparing us for adult life. It is therefore not only a form of amusement but also a way of learning.  Although there is more and more evidence of the effectiveness of games in education, many teachers cannot find a way to integrate them as a methodology in the classroom. We show below some examples of play, as a didactic method at different levels of education, as well as with different degrees of involvement.

We begin with a sample from the classrooms where play is most common, Infants school. Following this line of work, in the projectGrandi quadri e piccoli pittori, Grandes cuadros y pequeños pintores, the participants of just five years of age, have got to know each other using a play activity: each Italian pupil draws a self portrait so that the Spanish partners can recognize him or her in the photograph of the whole class group. It is a fun exercise with which to begin a relationship and later favour collaboration among pupils.


All the pupils from an Infants and Primary School have participated in the project Make @ wiz. In this case it hasn’t been the methodology but the products created that have adopted a play character: cartoons created by the 6th year pupils of Primary education, using the scenes and figures that their companions from the 3rd and 4th years had devised withTuxpaint and Pívot. The final material is a bank of animated resources with which to show some of the problems found in schools, cities and even at the world level, and their possible solutions. You can see all these cartoons on the project page.


More than integrating play, the project Getting closer Getting closer has itself been a game. Its general idea consisted in a digital gymkhana in which mixed nationality teams have had to pass different tests to complete a virtual journey so that the members of each group could meet up in a European city. Proclaiming the first team to achieve this as the champions has given the project an enjoyable competitive element. Added to the online educational games platformwhich was used for some of the tests,Getting closer is, without doubt, an example of play learning in formal education.

Older pupils can also have fun while they learn, as is reflected in the projectAn ET (winning project) between us, with second year sixth form students. Their teachers have organizedactivities, as if they were dealing with authentic mysteries, to help the extra-terrestrial ET understand contemporary life using classical references. One of these mysteries for example, has been to look for trade marks and analyze their relationship with the classical world. The students have also set each other a multitude ofenigmas: the meaning of some medieval songs, the list of advertisements with classical references and searching for mythological figures and their significance in the cinema and in comics. The discovery and understanding of the classical world has undoubtedly been an unforgettable experience for these students.


There are many more examples; this is just a small sample of the infinite possibilities which play offers when it is adapted and contextualized to the subject, school, pupils, etc. Do you dare to play?

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