This afternoon I (don't be surprised) watched a TED.com talk by Freeman Dyson on looking for life in the outer solar system. Before he dives into that topic he shares a few thoughts on history and then on biotechnology. He makes the statement, "As soon as computers became toys, when kids could come home and play with them, then the industry really took off." Freeman said only half jokingly that that's what they need to do with biotechnology.
I think it's key that Freeman didn't say that when schools started teaching computers they took off. When they became exciting and fun, maybe even a little off limits at times, computers took off.
Play is a powerful way to learn! I try to use playing as much as I can here at home with the kids. Melanie learned most of her math skills last year sitting next to me at the counter adding up 6 and 12 sided dice while I was working on something else. Carolyn learned all her letters in about the same way, sitting next to me at the counter where she had climbed up to talk or color while I was doing something, and I would ask, "Do you know what this letter is?" and draw it out for her. I would quit after just a few so she wouldn't get bored. After the first few were introduced, most letters were pointed out while we were cuddled up reading.
I helped Adam create a blog for himself because he wanted to write about baseball and whever else he felt like writing about. I jumped at the chance thinking, "Ah ha! Typing and writing practice!" He's had it for several months and hasn't written too much, but I just helped his friend create one too, so maybe that will get a little blog competition going.
Sammy has played with animating his Legos a bit using my camera to take the pictures then scrolling through them, but this week he went to town and has done some really cool things. To take that further, now I plan to learn about Stop-Motion Animation so we can take all these pictures from the camera and make something with them. He doesn't know that's the plan because I don't want to get him too excited until I know we can do it, but he asked about starting his own blog to show off some of his Lego creations and animations so we did it earlier today.
The kids are also teaching themselves to play the piano. Melanie used to tinker all the time on it, till one day she played a few notes and realized they were the same notes in a primary song. I helped her figure out the rest, then after she got that down, showed her some simple left hand notes to go with it. Now she plays parts of 4 or 5 songs, one that she figured out the left hand entirely on her own. Jamie got Sammy started on the Indiana Jones theme. Adam hasn't jumped on the bandwagon... yet.
Play is probably why I'm so excited to really get back to school this year. We just keep having more and more fun! Did I mention I plan on hiking the kids to Ensign Peak for the first day back to school?