The Internet, apps and games provide so much access to information that it’s not hard to find something to stimulate kids’ curiosity, according to the organization Common Sense Media. However, it’s important that whatever technology they use be informative, age-appropriate and credible. Games that allow exploration, creation and multiple solutions to a problem (like Minecraft and Roblox) are also known boosters of innovative thinking.
Kids build courage when able to take risks in games, especially when playing with a group (usually that means in the same room, not across the Internet). Group game play also helps kids learn about peer pressure: what it takes to make choices as an individual instead of going along with the crowd. Kids also build kindness when games reward them for cooperating with a team
Compassion, which is an important component of kindness, can also be developed by talking with kids about technology when they aren’t using it. Discussion about what cyberbullying is and how to publicly support others who are bullied online, as well as how being anonymous online can affect people’s ability to be more or less compassionate is a good start.
At Camp EDMO™, Curriculum Manager Ryan Kochevar sees to it that our tech programs focus on developing all three of these character traits while building knowledge and skills. We start with our youngest campers (ages 4-5 in EDMO™ Jr.) and continue all the way through 8th grade (EDMO™ Pro).
Our Tiny Techies summer camp theme introduces kids as young as 4 to the idea of collaborative problem solving through coding, without the use of screens. Campers use Cubetto, a wooden cube shaped robot which is programmed using directional blocks (the real world kind). They learn basic coding concepts along with logic, planning and debugging. As they get older, all of these concepts transfer to more advanced levels.
Cartoon Coders is one theme in the next stage for campers in grades 1-2. They continue to strengthen their knowledge of coding concepts as they create fun cartoon scenes and skits. Using the ScratchJr. drag and drop programming language on tablet computers, they can include custom art and sound effects, too.
Campers in grades 3-4 proceed to using laptops for camp themes like Minecraft Code Masters, where they create customized mods and mini-games with Code Kingdoms, a more sophisticated drag-and-drop programming platform.
This progression eventually culminates with EDMO™ Robotics Club for 5th-8th grade campers, where robotics integrates hardware and software concepts. Campers continue to learn more complex coding concepts and upload them to a micro controller to see their software code manifest itself in the physical world.
In all of our technology programs campers improve upon similar skills as they “graduate” through each level, while also learning how to collaborate with a group to creatively solve problems. We are also careful not to exceed two hours of screen time a day, often there is even less. We fill their time with more physically active games and recreation. That’s how we integrate tech with our campers’ development of the three character traits we hold most dear: curiosity, courage and kindness!
Here are three Common Sense Media articles that address this in more detail:
How Can I Use Media To Foster My Kid’s Curiosity?
How Can I Use Media To Teach My Kid Courage?
How Can I Use Media To Teach My Kid Compassion?