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The Transformative Power of Play

During this challenging time of social distancing, lockdown, and learning from home, many of us are learning what it means to adapt to change quickly, and finding that it takes time to adjust! There are good days, where we’re highly productive and in flow and there are days where we really find it hard to get going. According to Emotion Life Lab, this response is actually completely normal in adjusting to uncertainty, in what they refer to as The Corona Rollercoaster:

If adults are struggling to adapt to these changes and ‘big emotions’, how then, are our young people managing? Is it right to assume that young people are naturally more resilient, and just bounce back? Is it fair to expect them to be in an emotional and cognitive state that is ‘ready to learn’? Might, they too, be finding things difficult, trying to process isolation from their friends, and adjust to responding to big changes without the immediate support of their social networks?

At Immersive Minds, we don’t have all the answers, but we believe it’s healthy to ask the questions! In such uncertain times, our experience tells us that the best time to learn is when we feel safe, secure and supported. Kindness, empathy and compassion go a long way to creating a learning environment that invites students to participate and learn. The good news is these social and emotional capacities can be developed through play!

We know that play has the power to transform learning experiences. In our Game-Based Learning Guidebook we explore the research evidence for this:

Given that play can reduce anxiety and fear, increase calmness, adaptability and resilience to change, and can create positive emotions including a sense of well-being and joy, there may be no better time for us to play around with the idea of play in learning!

There are many ways into introduce playfulness into your learning activities, from guessing games and quizzes, to free play, or from imaginative play with dough, sock puppets, or Lego to hide and seek and physical adventure. If you find yourself looking for ways to do this at home, we have a range of freely available digital learning resources we’ve developed in Minecraft. We’ll be exploring these with you in the weeks to come. This week, we invite you to explore ecosystems and sustainability through play.

Why not take children on an adventure to a wild-life reserve in Africa, where they can learn about ecosystems, sustainability and the impacts on the animals that live there, such as elephants, rhino and pangolin? There are 5 adventure learning worlds, and each comes with its own lesson to guide you through the learning experiences. Students take on the role of a Wildlife Ranger, and undertake their duties, doing everything from observing and recording species numbers to investigating wildlife crime and stopping illegal trafficking!

These Minecraft worlds combine real-world learning with game-based learning, and invite children to learn through exploration, enquiry, research and play. You can download these for free from our website portfolio.

Acknowledgements: We Are the Rangers was developed through a creative collaboration between Adam Clark, Johan Kruger & Immersive Minds and funded by United for Wildlife and Microsoft. The Immersive Minds Game-Based Learning Guidebook is in the process of being published and will be available in Fall 2020.


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