Critical Thinking Odyssey!

We all hear a lot about how important critical thinking is for our students. Employers are saying that problem solving and team work are two extremely important traits they look for in their work force and it’s something I look to develop in my class programme as much as possible.

This year I’ve stumbled on an interactive game (and I use the word with hesitancy because that word has a bad rap in education circles) that is probably as much of an ongoing narrative and visual ‘epic’ as it is a learning experience.

Samorost 2 is the story of a pyjama clad hero in search for his alien abducted dog. samorostYou are the hero in this space odyssey that has you searching, experimenting, questioning and defeating various levels, or scenes, on your way to the dog’s liberation.

The benefits I’ve seen from children playing this are increased conversation (coming up with strategies) and negotiation skills, knowledge of machinery and basic physics (if you push this it will move that and turn this off, etc) and the accumulation of experience and hindsight that comes as each scenario is conquered (using prior knowledge).

I haven’t yet thrust this at my class but trialed it on my own two daughters (six and eight) at home. The free trial you can play on-line is only the first chapter but held my girls attention (completely undivided) for a couple of hours which, despite their dad’s computer fixation, was unusual. It was fascinating to watch them problem solve their way through the challenges and even occasionally, by my own questioning, have some help at times.

I’d be really interested to see how this would fair with my class of 9 and 10 year olds and I’ll post their progress soon. I’d also love to read of any others who’ve used Samorost in a school setting. How easy would it be to justify it’s place inside the curriculum you’re working within?

FOLLOW UP –
I’ve wanted to find some links to classrooms who have used Samorost (thanks to twitter search) and stumbled on an example at Mr Sales Blog. His class used it to inspire some creative writing (a year 6 class) and, by all accounts, they loved it. The class were asked to watch the start and then describe what they could see, hear and touch. I liked his encouragement to add mystery and atmosphere to their writing. What a great use of this game! His blog is one I’ll be keeping an eye on.

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