With just over 10 weeks to go until Christmas and the first toy catalogues hitting the letterboxes already many keen kids have already started making their wish lists. If your child is one of them there is a big chance the brand spanking new Disney Infinity 2.0 Starter Pack, which is said to be one of the top gifts for under the tree this year, is proudly parked on the no.1 spot:
Featuring hugely popular Marvel Superheroes characters from The Avengers, Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy this new Disney Infinity release has already gained a large fan base around the globe. As we all know technology constantly changes so Disney has taken the best of the original Disney Infinity 1.0 and combined it with a range of other exciting features to create Disney Infinity 2.0 (for compatibility between the two releases click here). With more than 20 new characters, amazing new worlds and missions and of course the never ending possibilities of the Disney Infinity Toy Box Disney Infinity 2.0 really offers play without limits.
On one hand we’ve all heard the warnings about kids and computer games and the effects too much screen time can have on children, at the same time it is getting harder and harder to avoid computer and TV screens completely so it’s all about going with the times and finding the right balance. Obviously I am not an expert in this field but Daniel Donahoo most certainly is and he is happy to share his knowledge with parents, teachers and kids who are keen to get the most out of their screen time.
As an established author, researcher and speaker Daniel knows all about digital technology, learning, games, play and community, he is also a father of four who wants the best for his children. He has years of experience under his belt working across the child and family sector in government, private and research roles and is widely recognised for the development of new ideas and insights, delivery of innovative early childhood programs, policies and research in Australia and overseas.
Daniel is currently working with schools and students to research the role of pop culture and established characters on students’ storytelling capacity and literacy development. Daniel’s exciting new initiative called Infinity Learning explores the use of the Disney Infinity platform as a tool for teaching game design and facilitating game-based learning in schools. I guess we can safely say he knows all the ins and outs of Disney Infinity!
Here are Daniel’s best tips for turning your child’s screen time from lazy leisure into a valuable learning experience:
How can parents support learning through games?
- Make time to play games with your children. It is important that you venture into your children’s world and understand what they play and why. The best way to do this is play with them.
- Ask your children questions while they play. It only takes 5 minutes to ask your child, “What are you doing now?” while they play a compter game. But, this question means they have to critically think about what they are doing and explain it back to you which offers a short, but deep learning experience.
- Buy a diverse range of games. When buying games as gifts, don’t always default to the popular first person shooters. Consider games like Disney Infinity 2.0, Minecraft, Little Big Planet or Portal 2 that offer game environments that promote creativity and problem solving.
- Encourage Play Beyond the Screen. Disney Infinity 2.0 makes this easy with physical versions of characters to play with, but once screentime ends you can encourage children to tell stories, make stop motion animations or create a non-digital game based on their favorite console game or Disney character, for example.
- Recognise children are always learning. Even older children learn through play. Play and experiences are how we all learn and by parents realizing that the digital games our children play are more than just fun, helps us see how we can build and strengthen learning out of the games our children play.
Screentime Tips for the Home
- Not all screens are equal. Watching a TV show is different to playing a computer game where you build your own world. And, watching a nature documentary is different to watching reality television. It is not enough to just limit access to screens, consider how you create “active” screentime where children engage with the screen, rather than “passive” screen time where they are just watching.
- Don’t feel guilty. Everything in moderation. Parents are made to feel that using screens as babysitters is a bad thing. However, we need to be aware that sometimes we need the space to make dinner or get something done. That is ok, but we need to make sure we don’t do it all the time. Even kids need some down time to just play a game or watch their show, just don’t do it all weekend.
- Share the screen with your child. You don’t have to do it always, but watch a TV show with your child and talk about what you are watching. If you give them your phone, sometimes play a game with them or take turns on your favourite smartphone game. By making screentime a shared experience it is a different and more beneficial one for children.
What can I use Disney Infinity 2.0 for?
- Design your own game. You can create any type of game from a platformer to a pinball game or an 3D adventure game full of mazes, traps and enemies. Disney Infinity 2.0 makes it easier than ever to build amazing games.
- Learn to code. When making games, you will learn to code. To make games you need to learn logic programming and Disney Infinity 2.0 makes this a very simple process, so rather than wasting time on typing and cutting and pasting text, you are clicking and connecting items to make them do amazing things in your game.
- Make your own animated story. You can use the characters you know from your favorite movies to make your own stories and tales. Use the built in cameras that come in the Toy Box to create small movies and scenes where the Avengers rescue Donald Duck or, where Donald Duck rescues the Avengers.
- The Toy Box in Disney Infinity 2.0 is an amazing space for exploration and experimentation in a digital world. You can play around and see what toys can be programmed and connected to what other toys to create new and different results.
- Create your school project. Ask your teacher if you can do your next school project in Disney Infinity. You could use the real world physics aspects of the Toy Box to demonstrate a physics problem, you could create a game that shows you understand fractions or design a world that helps you explain how different biomes work. There are simply no limits.