HOW WE THINK ABOUT SKILLS AT SIMPLYFUN
At SimplyFun we focus on development of three types of skills, Academic Skills, Thinking Skills and Life Skills. Mastering these areas as kids equips us with the tools we need to succeed in our learning and in creating healthy social relationship throughout our lives.
Following is a description of each main category and the individual skills groups contained within the category.
The academic skills encompass three broad areas of STEM, Language Arts and Social Studies; a more expanded view than the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic focus of many curriculums. Developing these skills allows us to selectively choose our work life focus and prepares us for handling daily tasks requiring reading and math, or a knowledge of history, science or geography about how our world works.
- STEM: STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. With technology playing an increasingly important role in our adult lives, there has been more emphasis on developing this set of skills beginning at relatively early ages. At SimplyFun we support STEM related skills through our math games, but also through our spatial reasoning games and games with science related content.
- Language Arts: The language arts area includes early learning topics like learning the alphabet, sight words, spelling and sentence structure. It also includes areas such as creative thought and storytelling, vocabulary and reading. We rely on our language arts skills to communicate with those around us. It is the conduit for understanding what is happening in the world in which we live.
- Social Studies: History and geography, health & nutrition, economics & civics as well as cultural studies all make up the area more broadly know as social studies. Developing these skills helps us understand the interaction of the world around us and how that world impacts us by the choices we make.
THE THINKING SKILLS
Often people equate being “smart” with how much information someone knows.
Science tells us that intelligence is much more complex and varied than just memory. The thinking skills below capture the full range of underlying processes needed to master academic topics and use knowledge, plus support physical, emotional and mental health.
Note: There are actually 13 Thinking Skills that we use to evaluate our games, but for the sake of simplicity we have summarized them down to just the six shown here. If you are interested in the full list of Thinking Skills and how they relate to this shortened version, the details are included at the end of this page.
The six Thinking Skills are:
- Curiosity: Children are naturally curious … exploring the world around them, discovering something new, asking all types of questions, and trying out things to see what happens. Games can be a useful tool in sparking a child’s curiosity by introducing new concepts, skills and challenges.
- Memory: Children remember new information much better if it is associated with positive experiences like play. Games can be used to specifically test and build visual, language, physical and cognitive memory skills. Other games can create opportunities to learn about friends and family by recounting stories or sharing likes and dislikes with others.
- Problem Solving: Solving a problem involves critical logic and reasoning skills such as predicting outcomes, evaluating risk and reward, deciding on a goal or action, and reflecting on what worked and didn’t work in order to do better next time. Additionally, problem-solving requires building and executing a plan, adapting to new information, and creating resilience to overcome obstacles.
- Ability to Experiment: Experimenting is essential to exploring and testing ideas, assumptions and facts in school and in life. It is great skill to have for doing well in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related subjects. It is also supports endeavors where children act independently or together as they try options to determine what is helpful, desirable or successful.
- Ability to Demonstrate: The ability to demonstrate and explain is the final step in learning and mastery of a topic or skill. Studies show that mastery motivation is more predictive of success in life than IQ. Many of our games motivate children to grow through play as they strive, persist and ultimately accomplish goals and as a result acquire higher levels of skills and knowledge.
- Creativity: Creativity is the greatest human skill, encompassing the ability to imagine new ideas, stories, solutions and products as well as to make those new concepts real with a wide range of tools and materials. It is through playing with materials and ideas in a wide variety of experiences that we maximize our creative potential.
THE LIFE SKILLS
Cumulatively, life skills encompass the ability to function independently or cooperatively to set goals, organize plans, and accomplish necessary activities of daily life inside and outside of school. These skills help develop character, confidence, community, empathy and proficiency. All games support a basic level of life skills including taking turns, following directions, being a good sport and dealing well with setbacks.
The five Life Skills are:
- Focus and Self-Control: Many of life’s activities requires the ability to control emotions and behaviors, especially with setbacks; prioritize important information; and pay attention and stay on task. Games give children the opportunities to learn how to take turns, be patient and follow directions while they practice dealing with wins and losses.
- Good Decision-Making: Good decision-making is vital to strategic thinking as children try to understand an issue or opportunity, develop a set of options, evaluate them and then make the best choice they can. Games give children opportunities to develop and apply their good decision-making skills in a range of topics based on the content of the game. Topics can range from daily choices like good eating habits to strategic decisions to bring people to safety during inclement weather.
- Achieving Goals: Our games have a specific goal and, therefore, are great for teaching the fundamentals of this life skill. For younger children, the games support simple planning, organizing, and trial and error activities. Older children can select games that will challenge and develop their flexible thinking, resilience and persistence, and more complex planning, strategy and organizational abilities.
- Healthy Social Relationships: Play creates a safe space for children to test boundaries, build compassion and empathy, and learn teamwork. It is also the best way for children to learn to compete in a positive manner, resolve conflict without physical confrontation, and communicate verbally and non-verbally in an effort to understand the feelings and thoughts of others and to exchange information effectively.
- Physical Competence: The ABCs of physical health begin with agility, balance, coordination and move on to strength, stamina and speed. These abilities express themselves in gross motor play, i.e. activities that involve big movements and the whole body; and in fine motor play, i.e. activities that involve small movements with fingers, toes and even the face. Many games bring motor actions into the actual game play to build on these skills.
The Complete List of all Thinking Skills
The basic 6 Thinking Skills of Curiosity Memory, Ability to Experiment, Problem Solving, Ability to Demonstrate and Creativity actually represent a condensed view of the 13 total Thinking Skills. For those who would like to dig in deeper and learn more, here are all 13 Thinking Skills and how they relate to the condensed view:
- Explore: To inquire about or doubt the truth of something. What do I want to know or find out? To examine or study carefully. What is this? How does it work, sound, feel, move, etc.?
- Determine: To find out or conclude from combining information. What are the characteristics of this object, person, place, situation, etc., and how do they go together? Tell what was seen, heard, touched, etc. What can you tell us about what you discovered?
- Compare: To find similarities and differences, to relate, or associate. How is this similar or different from others? How does this relate to others?
- Curiosity is composed of Explore, Determine and Compare
- Remember: To recall or retain in the mind. What can I tell or do based on previous knowledge or experience?
- Memory is composed of Compare and Remember
- Predict: To expect or hypothesize what will happen. What are the consequences of actions or events?
- Plan: To design or think about how to reach a goal. What do I need to think about and do?
- Experiment: To test or try different approaches. What different ways can I try? Experiment includes shifting perspective, which is to look at something in a new way. How else can I look at this problem?
- Practice: To repeat numerous times to improve skills or knowledge. Can I repeat it so I can do it better?
- Ability to Experiment is composed of Plan, Experiment and Practice
- Solve: To find information or strategies that lead to new understanding or to a solution to a problem. How can I solve this problem? To infer from reasoning or guess based on evidence. What did I learn or what can I hypothesize?
- Problem-solving is composed of Predict, Plan, Experiment and Solve
- Review: To look back on something. What did I do?
- Demonstrate: To show, describe or illustrate. I can show or tell you what I learned, or I can help a peer learn?
- Ability to Demonstrate is composed of Review and Demonstrate
- Imagine: To envision unique or unusual ideas. What new ideas can I think of?
- Create: To produce, conceive, or invent. What innovative means can I use to express my ideas?
- Creativity is composed of Predict, Experiment, Imagine and Create