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Active Play Makes Learning Fun

Kristi Houston, 3rd Grade Teacher
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As a third-grade teacher with 29 energetic students, I have first-hand experience on the importance of allowing time for play during the school day. However, active play has dropped by 50% over the last 40 years. Guidelines from the Department of Health & Human Services say that children should have at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity EACH day. But how do our students get that hour per day if they only have 30 minutes of recess a day and PE once a week? We can incorporate active play into our classroom.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that occupations in the STEM field are expected to grow 8% by 2029. This is one of the fastest-growing occupations worldwide. So how can we prepare our students and make sure they are also active? Thanks to Unruly Splats, we can combine coding and active play together!  

Whack a Mole

When my class was introduced to Unruly Splats, we first tried out one of the preloaded games called Whack a Mole! The students LOVED it!  They even challenged me to play!  After we all played, we analyzed the code together on the smartboard. Students were challenged in small groups to find ways to change the code in order to change the game. Once students shared their changes, we modified the game and played again.

Whack a Mole in action!

Adding Up

We next tried “Adding Up”, a math game that was co-created by educators in the Unruly Community! The goal of this game is to add the numbers shown on Splats 1-4 to total the number shown on Splat 6. For this game, we used the Virtual Splats on the smartboard and students took turns going up to the front while everyone else answered the question at their desks. The students had to use critical thinking to find the addends to equal the total. They didn’t know if they would need one, two, three, or more addends. It kept the students on their toes. Once again, when we finished the game, we analyzed the code to figure out what we could change before we played again. Students worked collaboratively to come up with suggestions and then presented them to the class. We made some of the changes and then played again. We even discussed how we could code our own game to practice multiplication and division. 

During all this coding talk, students started thinking of creative solutions on how they could collaboratively code these games even with the current COVID protocols in place. Even though these protocols made it more difficult, we have found ways to overcome these challenges so that students can be engaged in learning. Physical distancing does not mean they have to be socially distant! Students can map out their code on dry erase boards, then they can use my iPad to create the code while connecting to the smartboard so others can help them code. Then, they can test their code using the Unruly Splats. It’s a learning process for students and teachers! We found that we learn a lot from mistakes and sometimes our mistakes are what makes the process fun!

As a teacher who incorporates STEM into our Science block, I highly encourage teachers to use Unruly Splats in their classroom. You will marvel at the high level of collaborative learning and increased student engagement through active play in your own classroom!

Unruly Studios makers of Unruly Splats, programmable, stompable floor tiles that help kids learn fundamental coding skills through recess-style play. Best for elementary and middle school students from PE to science or coding class, a great addition to the classroom for active STEM coding and play!

Learn more about Unruly Splats: https://www.unrulysplats.com/
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