The other day, I had a conversation with Ken Anthony, our Director of PD and Research. Ken is an expert in after school program quality, and challenges us all to think more creatively about how to engage children in learning. One of his central messages is that we need to start from the interests of the kids, and build engaged, inquiry-based learning from there. This is a powerful theory that educators often have trouble putting into practice. So Ken told me about how he plays Minecraft with his son as a way of engaging and teaching.

I am all for child-guided learning, and have taught courses on enrichment in snack time or P.E., developing inquiry-based thematic curriculum, and even iPad games for STEM, literacy, and financial skills, but Minecraft has always been a complete mystery to me. I tried it once. Dug up a few blocks of earth, got killed by a spider. Dug up a few more blocks of earth, got killed by a zombie. I decided I wasn’t meant to be a Minecrafter. I must admit, I failed to see anything educational about it.

But after hearing Ken’s thoughts, I tried again, and he’s absolutely right. Anything can be a gateway into learning, and Minecraft is no exception. Check out this video:

Ken has turned me into a bit of a Minecraft addict. I can see its value, both because it’s a lot of fun, and also because it has a lot to teach. Interested in how video games can enrich your program? Check out this blogger, who writes about everything from behavioral systems where students earn experience points and level up, to application of video games in all areas of learning.

What creative ways do you engage kids in inquiry-based learning?  How do you build their loves and interests into your time with them?

If you’re interested in creative ways to mix learning and fun, check out our new Professional Development Catalog.  We’ve made a special effort to offer a wide variety of fun, creative ways for adults to learn, explore, connect, and get inspired!