Links and Resources:
- Harvard Magazine: Learning's Leading Edges
- New York Times Magazine: Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
- Dog Scouts of America: Teaching Left and Right
- Special Needs Families:
- Raising Children Network: Learning to Share
- Growing Creative Kids: Teaching Kids to Take Turns
- National Institute of Health: Embodiment of abstract concepts: good and bad in right-and-left-handers
- Science Daily: Right-Handed and Left-Handed People Do Not See The Same Bright Side of Things
- Common Core Standards: Kindergarten/ Grade 1
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” —Fred Rogers
Our games allow young learners to connect with big educational concepts from an early age. With Left-Right Pup, Mrs. Judd worked with the KBooM! design team to translate the favorite childhood activities of puppy pretend and outdoor hide-and-seek into an app which encourages children to enjoy the roles of leading and following while they teach themselves left/right directionality.
Here, we provide five real-world examples of why we chose this game as a teaching moment:
1. Teaching Common Core Standards. The skill-building opportunities in this app are linked to the Language portion of the Common Core Standards in the U.S. that begin as early as Kindergarten with sections that focus on Speaking and Listening and Vocabulary. In the Math Common Core Standards, terms that help describe position and direction also to be are taught early. (See K.G.1)
2. Translates the Beloved Childhood Activity of ‘Puppy Pretend’ Into An Educational Moment. In the words of one of our greatest inspirations, Fred Rogers, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Rogers was a big believer in the power of pretend play to teach fundamental real-world lessons for young children, and we are inclined to agree. In Mrs. Judd’s classroom, one childhood game that would recur nearly every year was “puppy and trainer,” in which students would take turns in the roles of pup and trainer and one would teach the other to sit, stay, etc. In Left Right Pup, children can teach themselves this challenging curricular skill while pretending to train our young pup.
3. Encourages the Development of Early Social Skills, Including Turn-Taking and Following Directions. There will be various points in the growth and development of children where they will be leaders or they will be followers, therefore, it is important to encourage children to enjoy and adapt to both roles. Teaching turn-taking, with fair exchange of leading and following, is important to any successful classroom and we hope you enjoy using our young pup and surfer as examples for your class. Many parents also ask teachers for guidance to find ways to encourage turn-taking in everyday life. In Left Right Pup, a pup and his young surfer friend take turns giving each other directions in a hide-and-seek exchange, with both finding fun and accomplishment in leader and follower roles, providing a model for children playing the game. The emphasis on clear directions and use of self-affirmation also model the importance and satisfaction of following directions. Even the pretend treats were chosen to foster an eager appetite for healthy fruit snacks.
Classroom Management: With respect to class management, the gameplay of this app has been designed for typical classroom turn-taking. Players can work for a short amount of time, or a long amount of time, and can have a fresh start (reset) for each new player.
4. Empowers Children to Navigate the Subjective Moments of ‘Left’ and ‘Right.’ Left Right Pup was designed with simplicity and clarity in language, direction and aesthetic to assist with this challenging curricular topic. In the social setting of classroom learning, those students who particularly struggle with left and right often do not get a chance to make their own decisions during left/right questioning, because quicker peers tend to model it so quickly. This game waits & repeats the left/right clues, giving all the time needed for a student to decide.
There may be greater variation in the way students perceive “left” and “right” than we tend to consider. As this New York Times report explains, language can have a significant impact on a person’s directional perception. For example, the reporter found that speakers of Guuguu Yimithirr, an Australian aboriginal language, view all directions as cardinal (north, south, east and west) as opposed to accounting for their own handedness and subjective direction.
Letting children work as a collaborative team to give their teacher left/right clues as a class navigates school hallways is a great way to teach directionality. Schools without multiple hallways can use Left Right Pup to teach this lesson.
The design team at Mrs. Judd’s Games was diligent to ensure that the pretend characters in Left Right Pup are aligned with the point of view of the player. When teaching directionality at school, one must maintain consistency from person to person. Take the “Hokey Pokey,” for instance. This beloved childhood dance does attempt to teach left from right, but all too often this activity confuses students who watch their peers facing a different direction from themselves. Children often have very particular preferences in terms of their left and right fields of vision, and Left Right Pup allows a player to be at the helm of their perceptual motor learning.
Keeping with our “puppy and trainer” theme, we looked to the Dog Scouts of America for inspiration and discovered the same holds true for the real act of training a puppy: the DSA tells us we must only refer to the dog’s “left” or “right”—neither pup nor child can be expected to switch point-of-view, so the pup’s POV in the game remains consistent. The DSA’s motto is “Let Us Learn New Things, That We May Become More Helpful,” and we hope our new app carries the same message.
5. Incorporates Rich, Textural Designs To Develop Sensory Awareness. In the 2012 symposium from the Harvard Initiative on Learning and Teaching, keynote speaker Drew Faust emphasized the importance of children having hands-on experiences to deepen relationships with the material.
Early childhood is a critical time for neurological development and development of important connections via vivid multi-sensory experiences. Many parents and teachers have concerns that the transition to more touch screen-based education leads to less time spent on sensory experiences and active physical play. So, at Mrs. Judd’s Games, we feel it is imperative for us to create games that can be easily incorporated into textural art experiences, sensory tables, and outdoor games. The collage textures throughout the game, which echo terry cloth, cork, denim, vinyl, weavings and tempera paintings, are inspired by childhood arts and crafts projects for a fun, familiar bridge to those classroom learning tasks in your own curriculum.