[Week 5 Reflection] Playful Quotes


Choose a quote from this week’s reading or video that you find especially intriguing

  • What quote did you select?
  • Why did you pick this quote?
  • What actions does it inspire you to do?

This post is also available in Italiano, Português, Español, 日本語 (Japanese), עברית (Hebrew)

התבוננות שבוע 5 - ציטוטים משחקיים

“Not all kinds of play are created equal!” I like that quote because it corresponds well with my education and experience working with small children. Not alle kind of play equals learning or one could argue that different kinds of play equals different kinds of learning.
And one key issue in educating children is how do we make room for tinkering? And mental room?
Here in Denmark the educational system is actually very focused on projekt learning, the ideas of passion and peers are not foreign to most teachers (i think ;-)) but the idea of play and tinkering gets lost in produktion and learning that can be measured.
And it is interesting to debate this angle: how do we work with the playful attitude to learning within the school system?

A totally different angle could be: are all children capable of tinkering? and if not is it goal that they become creative thinkers?
(I think yes and yes ;-))


I was struck by playgrounds vs. playpens. As an Early Childhood Educator, I am constantly encouraging my students to let children play, but I’m not sure that it is always clear to them exactly what I mean. When I teach our practicum and see my students working in the field, I often see playpens that have been created for the children. Strict rules around play and confining spaces. I will actively work to be more specific about what I mean by play and my expectations for my students.


Tinkering is at intersection of making and playing.
Sometimes we put so much emphasis on planning over tinkering, cause we assess the situation.
TINKERING PROCESS IS MUCH MESSIER, start with a little idea, try something out, make adjustments, refine goals and plans.
I loved this video and reading! the concept of “playpens” made me realize I was giving my kids a restrictive environment and I will definetely change that.
Lets challenge ourselves, lets make our students understand how to improvise, how to adapt to new situations. :wink::bowing_man::raised_hands:


“But I see tinkering as an approach to making things, regardless of whether the things are physical or virtual. You can tinker when you’re writing a story or programming an animation. The key issue is your style of interaction, not the media or materials that you use.”

I love this quote because it reaffirms something I have struggled with accepting. I was encouraged to write from a very young age, but I put it away thinking it wasn’t something I could play with. There was no tinkering in the finality of pen meeting paper in my mind, partly because of the way I was assessed in school. Being repeatedly reminded that I have just one attempt at getting the right answer would reinforce the misconception that writing, speech and other mediums of expression can’t be experimented with. This inspires me to think about all the mediums of expression young children turn away from possibly because of reasons I mentioned and what could be done to help them explore these mediums in fear-free “playground-like” spaces.


“…scientists do a lot more tinkering than they describe in their papers.”

As a graduate student in the sciences, this quote really stood out to me as I learned how to conduct research. Many people perceive the work I do as a straightforward, tidy project that I present as a thesis or article, but there were many steps between conception of the project and presentation that are obscured in my final reports. Many ideas were pulled apart, different analyses were considered, and data was “sliced and diced” in every way possible to see if there is something there.


My favorite quote from this week is when Dr. Resnik says in the video that “A careful plan can lead to efficient results, but you generally can’t plan your way to creativity”. This quote resonates so much with me, for many reasons.

Over the past year I was fortunate to have many experiences working with kids and technology. In my career I’ve worked in technology for over 20 years, and have trained adults before but never had the opportunity to work with kids. In the beginning, I had thought that the best approach was to have a very well thought out session plan and to always try and stick to the plan and accomplish as much as possible (according to plan). Over time, however, I saw that having flexibility with the plan was really the better path for the kids as well as myself. As well, with every kid coming to the table with a slightly different angle, background and understanding of (or lack there of) technology it helps tremendously to throw out this rigid concept that there is one way to define a learning “success”.

This quote also inspires me to try and embrace it even more with parenting. I will look for more ways to incorporate playground style learning opportunities at home and when we’re out and about exploring.


“Some educators worry that tinkerers might succeed at creating things without fully understanding what they’re doing.”

I chose this quote because this is an issue I’ve thought a lot about. I teach coding fundamentals on Scratch and for the penultimate project I encourage students to make a project that ‘shows off’ what they can do. In other words, after 5 sessions trying out different projects, using different menus, learning about the platform, I ask them to tinker with the Scratch blocks without limitations or suggested projects. And it became clear that many were tinkering without fully understanding.

I decided that my teaching objectives were not to demand complete understandings, but to help my students stretch their understandings, which they were doing with excitement and frustration and discovery, by tinkering.


I like this quote because it’s about an important issue. But as an educator I don’t worry about creating things without fully understanding, since as a tinkerer I do that a lot myself! I use Scratch mainly for visualizing maths and it often happens that the result of my tinkering with a combination of mathematical formulas and Scratch code surprises me. The process of creating things raises questions and I find that helpful in the process of understanding both coding and mathematical concepts.


How lucky for me that you responded!
I have been wondering about how to use Scratch to visualize math, which is not my strong suit. Can you share your Scratch name? I would love to see (and follow) your projects.



dodekagonia is my Scratch name (hinting at my interest in maths; dodecagon means polygon with twelve corners, dodekagon with a ‘k’ is Swedish for the same). I don’t know what you’ll think about my projects, it’s an odd mixture of maths related pictures and animations. But one thing I’m very happy about: I can see from the comments that many who feel that they don’t understand maths still like this kind of stuff. So what I’m hoping is to be able to raise interest in the subject =)


Hallå dodekagonia - I love your visualization projects! Tack så mycket for pointing me toward them. Should you read my ‘tinkering’ project below, one of my fictional characters loves numbers and loves the rationality of math (again, not my strong suit, but I’m trying) and I’ve been hoping to find a Scratcher with math projects to explore as I build up this character. Your complex pattern visualizations are wonderful and amazing and tinkering-perfect.


Wow, thank you so much, dweis! I especially like that you use the lovely word ‘tinkering-perfect’, because one thing I’ve realized during this course is that my way of doing maths (especially since I started using Mathematica and more recently Scratch) is a kind of tinkering.


It could be the excess of coffee I have had today, but this quote sparked a total “aha!” moment for me: “Math and science courses, from elementary school through college, have traditionally been designed in ways that favor patterners over dramatists- just as they tend to favor planners over tinkerers. That’s a big reason why many kids get turned off by math and science.”

This quote instantly made me wonder: Is this why math and science aren’t my favorite subjects? Because I’m a total dramatist, and I’ve always felt turned off by the predictable, step-by-step math instruction I’ve received? If story was incorporated into the math and science classes I took growing up, would my perception of math and science be different? Would I feel more intrigued to explore these subjects?

As an elementary educator, I am now inspired to create math and science lessons that appeal not just to patterners, but to dramatists. I think that is the missing piece to getting many students engaged in these subjects. I’d love to learn more about how educators in this community are already doing this in their own lessons!!


I really like the message Mitch fosters " don’t see the failure but the new opportunities" a situation gives you! I think its a moto that everybody should follow in his life.
If we could see every problem that appears in our lives in this prespective , we would become happier. All people worry about their actions and when something goes wrong, most of us get depressed , anxious and feel desperate.
We could train ourselves to think that if something goes wrong, it is not the end of the world . We could create something different that it might not be our first plan but it doesn’t mean that it wont be good or even better than our fist goal.
I hope to follow this prespective or at least i will try to .


Nicky realized that he needed some way to amplify the motor vibrations. To do that, he drew upon some personal experiences. Nicky enjoyed riding a skateboard, and he remembered that swinging his arms gave him an extra push on the skateboard. He figured that a swinging arm might accentuate the vibrations of the motor as well

This is the quotation I pick this week. It reminded me something I read by Polya, when he says that facing a (new) problem, one has to recall a previous similar experience (that is: not the same, bur similar). This is the main difference, at least up to now, between a human and a machine, be it a robot or Scratch. A human can use heuristics, and think by analogy, just as Nicky did. This also reports to what I have said in another post about wide walls, namely that a wall can be useful as long as it can be bypassed.
Quote from Polya, How To Solve It, 2nd ed., p. 114:

human superiority consists in going around an obstacle that cannot be overcome directly, in devising some suitable auxiliary problem when the original one appears insoluble.
Could you imagine a more accessible related problem?


Использовать знакомые материалы в незнакомых способах.

Когда рассказывала Lily о самолетике, я сразу вспомнила свою маленькую дочурку. Она попросила сделать ей бумажный самолетик. Вспомнив как это делается (с детства я это не делал), через минут 10 у нас он летал по квартире. Но ребенок на этом не остановился, она взяла кисти и краски и стала его разрисовывать, объясняя тем что самолетик не красивый. Проведя параллель с собой(взрослым человеком) - я бы довольствовалась тем, что у меня есть самолет и пусть он белый. А ребенок пошел дальше: они видят и запоминают детали, их должны окружать яркие краски, новые герои, новые механизмы. В игре у детей развивается фантазия, им необходимо к знакомой игрушке (модели) добавить новый элемент, чтобы он выполнял ту или иную функцию)


With so many different types of play—playing games, playing with toys, playing in playpens,
playing on playgrounds—it’s surprising that we have just a single word for play. But that’s just a
limitation of English. My colleague Amos Blanton, who worked on the Scratch Team at MIT
before joining the LEGO Foundation in Denmark, was surprised to find that Danish has two
different words for play. The word spille is used to describe the types of play that have a defined
structure and sets of rules, like playing sports or playing a video game, whereas the word lege is
used to describe play that is imaginative and open-ended, without an explicit goal.

That’s a really good description of the important difference between play/spille/spela/pelata and play/lege/leka/leikkiä . I added two languages, Swedish and Finnish - but for Finnish I only told part of the story, for the first alternative it’s not always pelata, there are different words depending on what you play, e.g. playing music would be soittaa musiikkia. Not surprising that playful is lekfull in Swedish and leikkisä in Finnish, is it? I’d be interested to know about other languages: is English the only language with the same word for both uses?


Japanese have same word “asobu” for both uses.
And “asobu” means “being free”, too!


Two things remained in my mind:

  1. Planning vs Tinkering: I think the balance between both is very important, and the magical question is “How to find the balance between Planning and Tinkering”
  2. This is related with the Activity: When I start to learn or build something, sometimes I’m not secure of how to start, so I start to plan, but the core of learning happens when I start tinkering, but sometimes it is very difficult to start, so I like the phrase: “Just do it” :wink: