Types of Play

March 24, 2010

Lazzaro’s 4 Types of Fun corresponds well to the constructivists’ theories of development (Piaget; Bruner) as well as the literature on play development (Singer & Singer; Garvey; Fein). The Y-axis here owes a lot to cognitive psychologist Robbie Case.

Model for the types of play based on two factors: symbolism and goals


Brian Crecente, a video game blogger, gentleman and scholar, wrote a column about how The Master herself, Maria Montessori influenced the design of Wil Wright‘s video games. (You may not know his name, but you probably are familiar with his masterpiece, Sim City).

The Great Sensei herself

The Great Sensei herself

Constructivist education practices are all over Sim City, the other Sim games, the digital dollhouse (and best-selling video game ever) The Sims, and the recent release Spore. Sim City is practically an object lesson in How It Is Done.

Just like a big box of wooden blocks, there is great pleasure to be gained from carefully balancing and building a city or anthill or human being up and then knocking it over (although Wright gives us tools such as meteors, earthquakes, tornadoes, and removing the ladders from swimming pools). There really is no way to win or lose a Sim game. In exploring, building and breaking, you learn a lot. Montessori would be delighted!

SimCity. Montessori would have loved this.

SimCity. Montessori would have loved this.

Free Range Kids

March 18, 2009

Here is a blog I have discovered recently and I have developed a tremendous amount of respect for.


I’m amazed that kids have less freedom to do things than when I was a kid.

I keep thinking that this “helicopter parenting” where children have an adult hovering over them all the time is itself a form of disability. Parents who think, “I know that he’ll probably be okay, but why take the risk?” are making the false assumption that parotecting kids from all harm isn’t harming them.

It all ties in to the Constructivist theory of development. We learn from mistakes and the natural consequences thereof. We learn from doing things by ourselves or by collaborating with our peers. Most importantly, we learn when our support structures are removed. Failure to remove the scaffolding places an artificial ceiling on the Zone of Proximal Development.

Just a thought: A kid with a disability who is allowed to play wiffle-ball in the empty lot down the street is a lot less disabled than the typical kid who isn’t allowed to because of ZOFG strangers!!!!

New York in Lego

February 3, 2009

Any New Yorkers reading this blog? (Pete?)
New York in Lego

a constructed sense of place

a constructed sense of place

Things to think about:

How we construct our understanding of the world out of the tools we are provided with.

What tools (cognitive/linguistic or material) are given to kids with significant disabilities for constructing?

How much of assistive technology does all of the work of constructing for the user and what are the long-term effects of that on learning?

Read the rest of this entry »


October 21, 2008

Jerome Bruner says that one foundation of cognition is the narrative.The mind structures its sense of reality in the form of a story. Abstract mental constructs are derived from these narratives. The basic storytelling structure of a narrative is culturally determined, therefore the mental model of reality that each person abstracts from the narrative varies by culture.

How to structure or design activities and assistive tech to allow for storytelling. How lack of expressive capacity to tell stories influences the cognitive structures of kids who grow up using AAC.