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Play to Learn Lab Diarys – Getting Started


 The Play to Learn Lab was our first laboratory set up at Masiphumelele Primary School in Khayelitsha. We wanted to create a space where we could experiment with digital games to see what effects they could have on children. What types of games would the children love? Can gaming improve Maths results? Would primary school children be able to build their own games? These are just some of the questions we are excited to learn the answers to.

I used this first week of the program to introduce the concept of the PLAYER PASSPORT to each of the 4 classes. This little booklet will be playing a key role during the afternoons at the lab, as well as providing us some key insights about each child. Below are are few page extracts from the passports:

Player Passport Pages


The first activity for the lesson was passport personalisation: each child coloured their passport in and created their unique avatar. At the back of each passport was a variety of hair, eyes, mouths and accessories to choose from. These were cut out and stuck in to create their “Hero Face”. It was really great to see kids getting creative. 

Ts & Cs

Next I asked the class to read through the rules and to be sure that they understood them. I had noticed before running multiple applications on the old XP computers would cause chaos so I needed to stress the importance of opening only 1 game at a time, and closing them properly afterwards! Upon agreeing with the Ts & Cs, kids signed their name under the rules. They also answered 10 questions which gives us some details about each child’s exposure to technology.


Once these activities were completed, the kids were left free to play any of the 27 games installed on the Game Stations. Most of these games are old DOS games as well as a few Flash games. Towards the end of the lesson I announced that I would be coming around to give each kid a star badge for attendance to glue into their player passport. I explained that each week they would be awarded an attendance badge if they came to class. I made sure to repeat the details to each kid personally as I awarded them a star to help reinforce this new concept. Rewarding kids for simple achievements works well to keep them motivated and a fun way to bring game-mechanics into the real world. Over the next few weeks more badges will be introduced.


At the end of the session I invited the class to record some of their thoughts about their time at the Lab in their passports. Their answers were really inspiring to read and I will be sharing some of them soon.

19 March 2014 Posted By : Michael Wolf 0 Comments
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