I just finished reading Quinn Rollins’ book Play Like A Pirate: Engage Students with Toys, Games, and Comics and found more than a dozen ideas to bring into my classroom. As a huge fan of Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a Pirate, I knew this was going to be another resource filled with ideas to engage students and energize teaching.
In each chapter, Rollins takes on a toy, board game, and kid favorite by sharing ideas and examples how he has used them in his own classroom to promote learning and understanding. Whether it is action figures, Minecraft, or games like Monopoly and UNO, his teaching tools go beyond worksheets and textbooks to “playfully” teach his content material. Bringing in these games and toys does not only bring an element of fun into the classroom, but is also allows students to use their own critical thinking, creativity, and analytical skills. The chapter on Action Figures gave me many ideas for sidequest projects this upcoming school year.
As a parent to a future Lego engineer, the over flow of the Legos in my home has ended up in my classroom. Two years ago, I was able to get my son (then eight) to help me recreate scenes of Midsummer Night’s Dream for a slide show to share with my students and help with their understanding of Shakespeare.
Rollins’ book bolstered the idea to put the Lego work in my students hands. In small groups, students selected the most telling quotes from each Act in Midsummer Night’s Dream and then created a Lego scene to depict the quote.
The final products were great. I talked with the students’ about taking multiple shot types to help find the best angle to convey the scene.
Rollins offers additional ideas for using Legos in the classroom:
Design a Minifigure – Students could design the four most important characters in a novel or a historic archetype, or four leaders of a particular movement from history.
Design a Set – Students design a Lego set about a historical event. For example, a set for the Great Depression can include a Lego representation of the Okies on the Road to California or a Hooverville.
Lego Stop Motion – Legos is a great tool to make stop motion animation videos. YouTube offers lots of amazing examples to inspire students creativity.
As the late Jim Henson said, “Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”