“The Book” as it was called at this year’s Dust or Magic in Lambertville, N.J. is an encyclopedic treatise on not only how to play and create play invitations that are developmentally appropriate but also how to sustain a child's interest. For as we all know, if kids aren’t interested, they are not going to engage…and what engagement you may have gotten is NOT going to stick. Mark Schlichting’s book, Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design - How to Create Games Children Love is not just for designers, app developers, or media specialists. Its content is drawn from over thirty years of his keen observation and experience with children and is truly a call to action for anyone who works with children - most notably teachers, researchers, and clinicians. It describes in detail how to set up play spaces so that children can initiate, explore, and learn at their own pace and in their own time. And that therein is the key to having meaningful and purposeful sessions or lesson plans. Make it relevant and fun…for then they will come and keep coming back. At Teachers with Apps, we have always said, "you don't know the magic of a learning tool until it is placed in a child's hands." Mark Schlichting now tells us why. Schlichting’s book brilliantly outlines how to begin by assessing a child's developmental level and having clearly defined goals or outcomes. By creating developmentally appropriate content, one meets the child at their level and is then able to provide the “just right challenge” for keeping kids engaged. He not only describes play patterns and how to create play invitations but also how to sustain engagement and the neuroscience behind it. Many of us – both clinicians and teachers have had extensive training in neuroscience and how the senses work in conjunction with each other to enhance learning but don’t quite know how to put it all together in a cohesive yet still playful manner. This book describes how the mind, body, and developmental stages work together to create that magical state of bliss that is known as play and thereby actively engages children in the process of learning. “Knowing your Audience, How Kid’s Learn, and Gender: Understanding Play Patterns of Boys and Girls” are just a few of the chapters to frequently reference when creating spaces for learning. It is clear that Mark Schlicting has an uncanny sense of a child’s point of view, and it is refreshing for us all to be reminded of who our client is and the considerations needed for enriching children's lives. He is able to direct where we need to be when interacting with kids of all ages, and that is his call to action – that as clinicians or others that work with children – that we are indeed considering the Whole Child and engaging in their world. It is through play, we are preparing them for the world they will live in and not necessarily our own view of what that world will be like. “The Book” - Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design - How to Create Games Children Love by Mark Schlichting is available on Amazon. Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing on Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps have been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.
Written by Jo Booth
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.