Week 12, #Ed113

I think I’d like to make toys, or “manipulatives,” interactive toys, objects, games that instigate thought via tactility, etc. (Types of toys per category of “genius”) 

Take Away

From this excerpt from 1998:

In many educational settings, manipulative materials (such as Cuisenaire Rods and Pattern Blocks) play an important role in children’s learning, enabling children to explore mathematical and scientific concepts (such as number and shape) through direct manipulation of physical objects. Our group at the MIT Media Lab has developed a new generation of “digital manipulatives” — computationally-enhanced versions of traditional children’s toys. These new manipulatives enable children to explore a new set of concepts (in particular, “systems concepts” such as feedback and emergence) that have previously been considered “too advanced” for children to learn.”

Thinking about so many examples out there!

I’m really captivated by the realization that neural connections are happening in the background of your mind. These are vital to the strength of your working memory and perhaps a means of fostering this background activity would be essential to durable learning.BigBaby-VR_Ap12

I’m thinking about things to keep your hands busy. Sensate. Physical. Tactile. All kinesthetic-ly pleasing toys/tools/objects that a learner can handle, play with, perhaps solve a puzzle, or apply to another learning tool/experience. The idea could be it’s a function of “interleaving” in a larger experience.

Progress (See some images @ my Pathbrite)

I chatted with my PLN Partner, Michelle for awhile this Sunday! We talked a lot about our big idea and returning to that throughout your evolution. I need to do that. We both agreed that a lot of thinking goes on in the background of your mind-you can convince yourself that you are lazy or unproductive, but unfortunately, you can’t force creative production. The idea ultimately reveals itself through building and subtracting.


What about finger knitting? fingerknitt_Ap12So many benefits for kids- I hear from teachers it helps center the kids. From my own experience, I arm knitted technically, I felt to pleased at learning something and having this product afterwards. I think that’s a great feeling, especially for students (of all ages).

Readings: I bought some new books on memory and learning, thinking in systems, and the neural underpinnings of learning to read! It occurs to me that reading is lovely and fun, but is also a way to orbit an idea like a spare moon and not actually start “handling” the concepts and to make some low-fi wireframes!

New Reads:

Next Steps

My PLN partner don’t forget to actually play yourself! Let Vermodalen, FOMO, the “it has to be great!” pressures etc. roll by, but focusing on a single concept-choosing one (simpler than neuroanatomy)-and then playing with it in simple ways (abstract I know!) is the best way to dive into production. I’m really interested in interleaving as well. I think that concept is going to be helpful for designing manipulatives. Feedback would be a good topic to focus on-what do manipulatives do for us physically? How does tactility facilitate that learning happening behind the scenes or on autopilot? I also need to get some more info on toys, cognitive engagement, kinesthetic learning and tools, and to start wire framing something for the end of the semester is nigh!


  • “Knowing a child’s natural strengths can be very beneficial to a parent or a teacher in creating experiences of meaningful learning. Whether your goal becomes one of extending areas of inborn intelligence or stimulating growth in other intelligences, Fat Brain Toys will help you identify fun & meaningful toys they will play with again & again.”

Kinesthetic Intelligence (The Genius of the Body)

  • “Kinesthetic Intelligence refers to using the body to solve problems & the mind to control bodily movements. Children with strengths in Kinesthetic Intelligence are always busy with objects or on the move! They learn best through concrete activities that require hand & eye coordination, movement, drama, using their sense of touch, physical play, building models & field trips. They are often athletic. Children with Kinesthetic Intelligence often enjoy building experiences and/or pretend play that incorporates body movement. Experiences with toys for building, props for make believe, tactile learning materials, (things they can put their hands on), opportunities for play using large & small motor skills will benefit any child’s Kinesthetic Intelligence.”

Reads & References

Lifelong Kindergarten
• Yale, The Technology and Innovation Laboratory (TIL), (old site)
• Gwen Dewar, PhD, Can Lego bricks and other construction toys boost your child’s STEM skills?
• Pam McLaughlin, Yale Child Study Center lab looks to ‘toys’ to improve life on autism spectrum
• Gwen Dewar, PhD, Toy blocks and construction toys: A guide for the science-minded
• Gwen Dewar, PhD, WM capacity: How big is your child’s “mental workspace”?

Image my own. Water color pencil and marker on paper.