What if your child’s curiosity, creativity, and imagination could be sparked by hands-on learning using a video game platform in the classroom? Today Nintendo announced Nintendo Labo Classroom Program, a partnership with Institute of Play that brings Nintendo Labo kits into elementary classrooms to teach basic principles of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). Through this partnership, Nintendo is providing Nintendo Labo: Variety Kits and Nintendo Switch systems to 100 participating classrooms to reinforce STEAM skills and foster communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. Curious how you can get Nintendo Labo in your school for free? Keep reading!
Parents: Before you groan and worry that your already screen-obsessed child will get even more screen time at school, I can personally attest to Labo being a great example of productive screen time that inspires curiosity, creativity, and imagination in all ages but it gets kids making, playing, and discovering that is essential to childhood and learning.
- If you’re excited about bringing Nintendo Labo Classroom Program to your child’s classroom, you can encourage your child’s teacher to apply here!
Teachers: Wondering how you can bring Nintendo Labo Classroom Program to your classroom?
- Public and private school teachers can apply before November 1 and keep reading for more information!
- If you don’t have students in those grade levels, stay tuned! Nintendo will be publishing their teachers guide for Labo as a free download later this fall!
Today I had the opportunity to speak with Cindy Gordon, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Nintendo and and Arana Shapiro from Institute of Play about this groundbreaking partnership that came to life after Institute of Play experienced Nintendo Labo at a pre-launch preview event. Cindy said the Institute of Play shared enthusiastic feedback about Nintendo Labo as a classroom tool to foster communication, creativity, creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.
Leticia Barr, TechSavvyMama.com: How did this partnership start?
Cindy Gordon, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Nintendo: “Institute of Play is the perfect partner because they’re a nonprofit committed to transforming education via play-based experiences and there’s been this organic evolution. The teachers and kids are imaginative and Labo lets them tinker, explore, problem solve and get excited about design and tech while having fun. It’s a natural fit for a classroom setting. Kids are making amazing creations.”
Leticia: Was it easy to sell teachers on the idea of Nintendo Labo Classroom Program?
Arana Shapiro from Institute of Play: “Teachers were really excited. There was lots of interest in trying it and the teachers involved tend to be the early adopters. They’re tech teachers and STEM/STEAM teachers who like bringing new things into their classroom. We’ve had a wide range of teachers interested!”
LB: What does the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program lessons look like?
Arana from Institute of Play: “The lessons follow Labo’s make, play, discover model. The first session is with the remote control (RC) car. Kids built the RC car in pairs then groups engaged in challenges like a relay race, and jousting. Students were introduced to basic programming using input and output through ToyCon Garage where they change one thing to make something else happen. The lessons are scaffolded and begin at basic and move to a deeper understanding around programming concepts and complex topics.
Once teachers see kids being creative, they get really excited. We see kids in a safe space being able to practice 21st century skills where they are communicating, thinking creatively, exercising creativity, problem solving, and collaborating.
I’ve been working directly with teachers in 11 classrooms in the Tri-State area to develop the teacher’s guide that will be available to download for free this fall. Lessons can take anywhere between 45 minutes-2 hours but we want to give teachers pedagogical strategies and the flexibility to let kids tinker, explore, problem solve and get excited about design and tech while having fun. We want to make the teacher’s guide as usable as possible, regardless of constraints.
Leticia: At a time when parents are trying too hard to limit screen time, did teachers face resistance to using Nintendo Switch and Labo as part of the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program?
Arana from Institute of Play: “We’ve been interacting with principals and teachers but what I would say to parents is Labo brings together the physical and digital. The kinds of skills kids are allowed to practice happen because these things are coming together. I’d draw attention to the tenacity that goes along with the kind of building and making and creating that are research backed. When you have an experience that requires you to think critically and problem solve, these translate into academic spaces too.
[As we develop the teacher’s guide] we’ve been gathering information like how to use ToyCon Garage and scaffold experiences to the little things. Because students are in a classroom and in groups, they’re using the Switch for building instructions. You could tell them to take turns but that doesn’t teach them to collaborate and work as a team. We’ve learned that if we have 3 kids, they need to have different roles- one kid builds, one drives the Switch controllers, and the other does quality control make sure build is done right, keep track of the time left in class, etc. Kids can switch roles- everyone has something to do- but this teaches them how to work together as a team.”
Cindy from Nintendo: “The Nintendo Labo is a building platform. Nintendo Labo is powered by the Nintendo Switch and kids are learning how things work and bringing them to life through the Nintendo Switch. What we’re seeing is kids connecting through something they love- games- and engaging in learning that doesn’t feel like learning.”
Through the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program, Nintendo is providing Nintendo Labo: Variety Kits and Nintendo Switch systems to participating classrooms to reinforce skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking. The program aims to reach approximately 2,000 students ages 8 to 11 during the 2018-2019 school year. Nintendo Labo kits provide the tools to make DIY creations called Toy-Con, including a Fishing Rod, Piano and RC Car, among others; play games with these Toy-Con creations through a mix of physical and digital experiences; and discover how Nintendo Switch technology brings it all to life.
For more information or to apply, visit the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program site.
No compensation was received for this post but Amazon affiliate links are included. Images from Nintendo Partners with Institute of Play to Bring Nintendo Labo to schools, at Lake Hiawatha Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Lake Hiawatha, N.J. (Charles Sykes/AP Images for Nintendo)