Type of Toy & Parent-Infant Communication

Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication
Anna V. Sosa, PhD
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(2):132-137.

Conclusions and Relevance:
Play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys.
To promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be a valuable alternative for parent-infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity.

journalistic version:


Science education: Spare me the lecture
Nature 425, 234-236 (18 September 2003)

Evidence of this failure is provided by assessments such as the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), a multiple-choice test designed to examine students’ understanding of Newton’s laws of mechanics.

Peer Instruction: Ten Years of Experience and Results.
Catherine H. Crouch and Eric Mazur.
Am. J. Phys., 69, 970-977 (2001).

sets of qualitative exam questions that rely on understanding a concept rather than simply using physical formulae. His methods have been adopted by physics teachers around the United States and have also been adapted for chemistry, astronomy, geology and mathematics courses.

Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, the PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder creates free interactive math and science simulations.

R. R. Hake Am. J. Phys. 66, 64–74; 1998

some newcomers to the field are in danger of wasting their enthusiasm on experimental teaching projects that largely repeat what has gone before. “Does someone need to test peer instruction again? No, we know it works and now we’ve moved on to more sophisticated things,”


Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations

Distributed cognition

The modern learning sciences have stressed the ways in which human thinking and learning go beyond the processes going on inside people’s heads. One way in which they have done this is to focus on “distributed cognition” or “distributed knowledge.”[26]
These terms are meant to describe the ways in which people can act smarter when they combine or integrate their own individual knowledge with knowledge that is built into tools, technologies, environments, or other people.
We have already seen in the discussion of SWAT4 how some video games can distribute intelligence between the player and artificially intelligent virtual characters.
p. 32

Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.

see also:

Cognitive Environments
accessed: November 1, 2015

Models and modeling are basic to human play

Models and modeling are basic to human play. They are basic to a great many other human enterprises as well, for example, science (a diagram of a cell), architecture (model buildings), engineering (model bridges), art (the clay figure the sculptor makes before making the real statue), video and film (storyboards), writing (outlines), cooking (recipes), travel (maps), and many more.
p. 28

why are models and modeling important to learning?
Because while people learn from their interpreted experiences—as we have argued above—models and modeling allow specific aspects of experience to be interrogated and used for problem solving in ways that lead from concreteness to abstraction.[21]
p. 30

Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.

What can be modeled in Scratch?
(from the Science STAAR April 2015)

mirrors and image on an object

electric circuit
July 18, 2013
the user builds a circuit by placing the parts on the wires

electric circuit
by asnewbrain
Mar 1, 2015
electron movement is simulated

electric circuit
by Dan102
Feb 16, 2013


simple electric circuit

Nov 2010
drag and drop the two wires, the battery …




Humans find learning pleasurable

humans and other primates find learning and mastery deeply, even biologically, pleasurable under the right conditions, though often not the ones they face in school.[13]
p. 24

13. Deborah Blum, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection (Cambridge, MA: Perseus,

Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.


Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
N Engl J Med 2003; 348:670-671February 13, 2003
Harlow showed that monkeys could learn to disassemble a complex puzzle without the reward of food as easily as they could with the reward — a result inconsistent with the commonly assumed primacy of drive reduction in learning.

‘Love at Goon Park’: The Science of Love
February 2, 2003
The phrase ”contact comfort” was made famous through Harry Harlow’s experiments with baby rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Communities of practice (affiliation groups)

When today’s learning scientists talk about the mind, it sometimes seems as if they are talking about video games.
… people learn best from their experiences when they get immediate feedback during those experiences so that they can recognize and assess their errors and see where their expectations have failed.
… learners need ample opportunities to apply their previous experiences—as interpreted—to similar new situations, so they can “debug” and improve their interpretations of these experiences, gradually generalizing them beyond specific contexts.
p. 21

Modern learning theory tends to stress the social and cultural more than …
the elements of good learning experiences—namely goals, interpretations, practice, explanations, debriefing, and feedback—have to come from someplace.
In fact, they usually flow from participation in, or apprenticeship to, a social group, or what are sometimes called “communities of practice”[9] or affiliation groups.[10]
For instance, I am a bird-watcher and I have lots of experience looking for birds. But my experiences in this domain have been greatly shaped by other people and institutions devoted to birds and bird watching.
What we might call a “social identity” is crucial for learning.
p. 22

content—knowledge—in a domain like science or art is much less connected to identities, goals, and values. However, ethnographic accounts of scientists learning and doing science, for instance, show this is not true.[17] And,…
p. 28


8. John S. Brown, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid, Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning,
Educational Researcher 18 (1989): 32–42; Gee, Situated Language and Learning; Edward Hutchins, Cognition
in the Wild (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995); Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, Situated Learning:
Legitimate Peripheral Participation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991); and Michael Tomasello,
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

9. Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press, 1998); and Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder, Cultivating
Communities of Practice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002).

10. Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us; idem., Situated Language and Learning.

Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.

Activity and Imagined Activity

Activity and Imagined Activity Can Enhance Young Children’s Reading Comprehension
Arthur M. Glenberg, et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology 96 (2004): 424–36.

This study describes an experiment in which young children read a passage and manipulate plastic figures so that they can portray the actions and relationships in the passage. By manipulating the figures, the children get a structured, embodied experience with a clear goal (portray the action in the text). After some practice doing this, the children were asked to simply imagine manipulating the figures. This is a request to engage in simulation in their heads. As a posttest, the children read a final passage without any prompting.

Children who completed the sequence of embodied experience then simulation were better at remembering and drawing inferences about the new passage, as compared to children who received no training. They were better as well, compared to children who were instructed to only imagine the passage.
And, most interestingly, they were better compared to children who manipulated the figures without the intermediate instructions to imagine manipulating.
Encouraging simulation through the initial use of physical enactment helped the children learn a new reading comprehension strategy, namely a strategy whereby they called on their experiences in the world to build simulations for understanding a text in specific ways.

cited by:
Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.
The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 21–40.