Busy Shapes by Edoki Academy is hands down, one of the coolest kid’s games I have played to date! I LOVE everything to do with Children’s Media and will often find myself just browsing kid’s games, books, apps, and tv shows. The other day, I came across this little game that didn’t look too exciting or familiar but I decided to check it out.
Hands Down, One of “The Greats”
What did I find?! One of THE best apps for kids that I’ve ever stumbled across; even I enjoyed playing this game. Not only was it incredibly fun, adorable and unique, but it is SO EDUCATIONAL. Busy Shapes has a Montessori approach to learning and is being called “The First Digital Playground” by one educational app review site.
Since playing this game, exploring the features, and doing my research, I have become passionate about all that this mobile application has to offer and I am excited to share what I’ve learned! I will explain how this game fits into the section of the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum that highlights innovation and problem solving. Through examples, I will demonstrate how Busy Shapes inspires innovation, how it explores problem solving and why every parent or adult who is working with children, will love it!
Learning through DIGITAL play: If Jean Piaget had an iPad
So many people think that for children, screen time is “bad”, that games are “addictive”, that digital media is “unsafe”. While it’s been proven that learning through play is the best way for young children to learn, why wouldn’t that include the digital playground? I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of children’s media, when it is used as intended. There is so much for children to learn through the increasing use of technology.
Turning classic animated kid stories into live-action films and TV shows is a trend that’s here to stay. From Beauty and the Beast to Riverdale, live-action retellings are a hit.
Partly, that’s a result of the technology available to filmmakers today. Live-action movies can rely on special effects and still look like real life. Just think of 2016’s The Jungle Book – watching the film it’s easy to believe that Mowgli, played by kid actor Neel Sethi, swims and converses with a bear named Baloo. The seamless combination of live-action and CGI in The Jungle Book would not have been possible 10 years ago. But the technology is just part of what drives the making of live-action adaptations.
In the clip above, Mowgli and Baloo sing together in a scene that looks convincingly real.
This adorable program airs on Treehouse for children aged 3 to 5 and follows the adventures of a little girl named Peg and her pet cat. Peg + Cat succeeds in making math fun and relevant by showing kids how math is present in their lives and can be used to solve a variety of problems, from giving her mom the proper number of birthday presents to saving baby chicks. Peg + Cat follows the Ontario Grade 1 math curriculum, making it a great tool to prepare kids who are going into Grade 1, or to reinforce their current learning.
Ontario’s Grade 1 math curriculum is designed to help children develop necessary skills such as: problem solving, reasoning, reflective thinking, connecting concepts to the world around them, representing mathematical ideas visually, and communicating their thinking clearly (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics, page 32 of 135). Peg + Cat helps to develop these types of thinking and behaviour very well. The content in each episode is repetitive as the creators take the time to teach it’s viewers in multiple ways. Whenever there is a problem to be solved, Peg verbally explains the problem while writing it down for viewers to see and then explains each step of the solution in the same manner. While Peg, Cat, and friends carry out her plans their, they all sing about what they are doing and why or what they learned. These problems are anchored in the real world to further emphasize that math is everywhere. As we see in “The Slop Problem”, Peg, Cat, and the teenagers need to catch and place the chickens back into their coup. Each person can carry up to five chickens, thanks to a smartphone app, and they learn about counting in fives.
Peg + Cat teaches more than critical thinking and communication, however, as the types of math taught can be linked directly to more specific goals in Ontario’s Grade 1 math curriculum. Read more >>
Many kid’s games on both mobile and desktop incorporate curriculum elements to advocate learning concepts. There’s a bit of a paralysis of choice right now – games that teach early literacy, mathematics, or science populate pretty much every app marketplace or game website. The question of their appropriateness or suitability to the curriculum is a big question. As it stands now, there’s a lot of discussion and debate surrounding how kid’s games should incorporate curriculum into their content.
One game that’s been at the forefront of curriculum-based content for teachers, parents, and kids especially, has been Prodigy Math Game. Let’s look at how:
How many times have you been driving with kids in the back seat, listening to a song you have heard 100 times or more, only to be struck by the true meaning of the song? Maybe it’s a great song, with a strong message that you want your kids to hear. Or maybe it’s a song with a more mature message than you are comfortable with, and you have never really listened to it until now, and you are shocked to hear that your kids know all the words without fully understanding what they are singing about. There is an easy way to avoid this upsetting realization that the radio DJ’s do not always have your children’s best interests in mind.
Play your own music.
You do not have to subject yourself to juvenile nursery rhymes to ensure that your children are listening to appropriate music. Nursery rhymes are great, don’t get me wrong, but don’t think that there is nothing else out there for your child to listen to.
As I’ve grown, I realized that there was no one like me in any of my recreational distractions. I’m and African American female who also happens to be completely deaf in one ear. Granted these may be setbacks that don’t outrageously affect my everyday life, but they are still part of who I am and I’d like to see that portrayed in the media. Once my difference became apparent to me I began a full-fledged examination on the shortage of characters with disabilities in the media. When entertainment doesn’t do its best to reflect real people and real-life experiences by diversifying its characters, we “real people” feel cheated. It affects the self-esteem of any child with a disability who can never relate to what they watch or read, and it creates a strain on children who haven’t learned how to properly approach other children who are disabled.
The problem is not only the matter of the lack of children’s media that feature characters with disabilities but also the way they portray them. There is a difference between media about a character with a disability and media that includes a disabled character. The latter could easily be ensnared by “secondary character syndrome”, i.e. creating this character that is different from the others in race, sexual orientation, or special needs and using them as a prop or a filler instead of a character the audience can actually relate to. They have no story, they barely have a voice, and by the end of it you probably won’t remember their name (if they are given one). More effort should be put into making those characters count and creating a storyline around them that develops their needs and lifestyle in a way that accurately portrays someone who is disabled.
Read more >>
As a child makes their way through their educational journey, one universal truth cannot be escaped. That is, one must learn how to write, and write well, in order to succeed. Essays, reports, emails, and tweets are at the mercy of their author. With such an explosion of digital media and the social media revolution, the written word is more important than ever before. The main ingredient for great writing, like all forms of expression, is a great idea.
Across the Atlantic in merry old England resides the Ministry of Stories (Hoxton St., London). The Ministry is a creative writing playground with colourful tables and inspiring art on the walls. Founded by best-selling artist Nick Hornby, along with Ben Payne and Lucy Macnab, the Ministry runs workshops, writing clubs, and one-on-one mentoring, supporting young imaginations and encouraging children to express their inner authors and dreamers. Funding this venture, in part, is the wonderfully imaginative Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.
We need more shows like Little Lunch.
The Australian television series is set at recess. It features six kids who look and sound like kids you would find in any schoolyard. They experience the common highs and lows of being 10 years old.
There’s the episode when Melanie and Tamara explore friendship while battling for exclusive use of the monkey bars. The episode when Atticus learns to love the unfamiliar food prepared for him by his ya-ya (his grandma). And there’s the one when Battie doesn’t get over his fear of dogs.
Their stories aren’t extraordinary. There isn’t a neatly packaged lesson for them to learn every episode. The show features kids being kids. And as kids, their stories are witty, moving, and honest.
Dustin Hoffman’s eccentric portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in the 1988 classic Rain Man popularized the autistic individual on an unprecedented scale. Overnight, autism became associated with extraordinary savant skills (memory and math), and quirky behaviours – with the corresponding social difficulties and odd mannerisms.
Media portrayals of autism since Rain Man have often obscured autism rather than illuminated this complex condition. Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory is often described as a poster boy for Asperger’s syndrome, but he too is an exceptional case of savant traits (eidetic memory, extraordinarily high IQ), and verbal fluency that is non-existent for many on the Autism Spectrum.
Is it not time for popular media to address autism accurately in programming, given that approximately 1 in 68 children in North America are autistic?
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.