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Unplugged activities in the classroom

LOGICO shop

In this blog post we are looking at how screen-free, ‘unplugged’ activities can help children learn in a classroom (or any other!) environment. I am probably the ‘odd one out’, as a teacher of IT and Computer Science, to believe not to give children a screen at a young age. There is plenty of time to learn how to do things and to properly learn how to use the computer, at an older age. Just because you start early, it doesn’t mean you will get good at it sooner. I believe, it is all about giving children the right learning tools, at the right age.

So, what do we mean by ‘unplugged’ activities?

‘Unplugged’ means unplugging the computer, turning off screens and engaging our children in activities without electronics. In some ways, this also means more meaningful learning and nevertheless a lot of engagement in the subject! Not to mention, unplugged activities can help children (or adults!) to retain a particular topic better, in the long-term memory. Unplugged activities mean that a lot of different type of learning is going on. Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. We can see and hear what we are doing and work collaboratively. Talk to one an other and conduct purposeful talk! Mainly, converse about the topic that we are learning about.

Why should we do this?

Has it ever happened to you that you tried to take a tablet off a child? What did you find? Did the child abandon the tablet straight-away? No doubt, he didn’t. In my experience, I have seen a lot of frustration in connection to games on screens. Stopping an on-screen activity can be really stressful for both parents and children. Children can get frustrated and emotional whilst playing. Not to mention that often these games operate at a fast pace, with vibrant colours and loud sound effects, affecting all the senses. Children, especially younger ones, can get fully immersed in such games and stopping the game can often result in anger and frustration.

So, why are we allowing this to happen?

I often think that parents choose to give children tablets and phones as they cannot think of an alternative. If you are out and about, a small screen seems the perfect solution, isn’t it? It is ‘easy’ for a while – but unfortunately, not long-term. In this article, the advice is to avoid using electronic devices at dinner. Screens do not replace talking and conversations. Ultimately, using screens is an independent activity.

The same applies to schools and classrooms. Should we invest huge sums in equipping our children (as some schools do, from the age of 4!) with tablets? Do we use them to their full extent? Are staff fully trained and immersed in technology so that they can enable children to learn the most they can, using tablets? Are screens the best way to communicate with children what we want them to learn? Is this the only way we can fully engage children in a meaningful way? I believe, the answer is ‘no’.

LOGICO classroom unplugged activities

Starting off with ‘unplugged’ activities

Switch off all computers and hide the tablets. Go off-line. Start thinking of the bigger picture. What would you like to teach children? How can you achieve that greater goal? Then start breaking it down into small parts. Finally, here comes the fun bit; you can find alternative ways to put the same message across to children. For instance, have you tried introducing ‘loops’ in programming by teaching children how to knit? Or using storytelling to teach sequencing in programming, following the foundational idea that programs run line by line, instruction by instruction? This great article offers ideas to teach programming through offline play.

The main message of using unplugged activities is that, to learn children need to see the bigger picture. Children need transferable skills, not skills limited to a small group of on-screen games. It’s all good with drag-and-drop activities, but how about when they actually have to do it? Can they transfer those skills to others?

Unplugged activity ideas include ‘make and build‘ or ‘make and do’, construction. Creative ideas, such as dressing up, acting out, puppets or dolls, cars are equally great. Logical games are fantastic to challenge individuals and they are a good foundation to introduce paired or group work to children. Don’t think of buying new things all the time, as often simple things make the best games. Just think of origami and kirigami, with very little resources.

Using LOGICO in the classroom unplugged activities

How to use LOGICO PRIMO in your classroom?

The current LOGICO PRIMO range for ages 3-6 comes with 11 different learning card sets. As each set contains 16 different cards, this gives you a huge variety! LOGICO PRIMO topics include counting, letter recognition, shapes and colours, foundations of geometry, concentration games, arts and crafts, learning about daily routines, matching, sorting and sequencing. Once you have an overview of each area, select the cards which are relevant to your current topic. Or you might just want to go by the illustrations and see where the activity takes you!

It is a very good idea to combine different learning areas, as it helps children create links between what they already know and the new. Furthermore, important areas, such as literacy or mathematics, are not ‘stand-alone’, they can be linked and work together really well!

For instance, children can be learning about different traditions (such as, Easter or Christmas) and this could then lead to learning about what sort of music is played during these festivals. Then, children can solve a LOGICO PRIMO activity showing different musical instruments. After this, children could listen to some music and try picking out all the different musical instruments playing . Finally, the class could come up with a special dance routine to fit the occasion.

Each learning card is beautifully illustrated which often leads to further conversations. Children are happy to talk about what they see as this helps them reinforce what they already know. Whilst learning, we want to categorise our world and learn about how things work. This helps us understand what surrounds us and help us fit in better. Children, especially younger ones, do this all the time through both observation and physical activities.

Finki LOGICO in education UNPLUGGED activities

Meet Finki

Finki, LOGICO’s favourite bird, appears on many of the learning card sets. Children can recognise Finki and they are happy to talk about what Finki is doing on the pictures. This also includes children’s daily routines! Children can relate to this and think of their own experiences. Essentially, talking and engaging children in a purposeful conversation about their own learning, helps them improve their literacy skills. LOGICO PRIMO is aimed at a younger age group of ages 3-6 and the illustrations suit this age group really well.

Indoors or outdoors?

A huge benefit of LOGICO frames is that they are durable. They are great for both indoor and outdoor use. Each card is laminated so they wipe clean and they last.

If you are only using LOGICO in the classroom, you might want to try..

  • introducing a ‘cosy corner’ where children can read or work quietly on an activity
  • one table = one challenge, by providing different activities in different parts/tables of the classroom, and where children can choose their own learning
  • paired activity. You can pair up children, according to their abilities, to solve LOGICO challenges. Alternatively, you might want to make use of learning partners and pair children with higher and lower abilities to coach and support each other.
  • whole class LOGICO challenge. This is, of course, if you have plenty of frames on your hand! (Did you know our SALE continues?)

Which time of the day?

LOGICO is great to use any time of the day, depending on your own classroom routine. Often, when children first come into the classroom, they need some guidance and direction to settle down. Providing a range of little activities is a good way to settle children. LOGICO can be used as part of this.

Winding down time or free time. Many teachers use the idea of ‘golden time’ or free time when children can engage in an activity of their choice. LOGICO can also be used as part of this.

After school or lunchtime clubs can also be a great time to use LOGICO. Children can wind down, work on their own or with a partner. A great benefit of the LOGICO frame is that the buttons stay in place so children can leave and come back to the game later on.

Variety means opportunity for unplugged activities

Using ‘unplugged’ also means being creative and resourceful. How can we broaden our children’s learning? How can we create variety, breadth and depth?

LOGICO classroom unplugged activities

So, try rotating toys and games, providing some variety will keep children engaged. Keep it simple and make sure that there is not too much choice and the activities are visually simple.

Knowing that tools, such as LOGICO, exist gives teachers and opportunity to create variety and engagement. Quality time above all and purposeful dialogues in the classroom.

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LOGICO has been featured on SENResources!

LOGICO in education UNPLUGGED

We are proud to announce that the Special Educational Needs Resources blog has reviewed LOGICO PRIMO! The review highlighted all the good things we love about LOGICO! So, its ease of use, its portability and the playful learning – all got a mention. Above all, LOGICO is used and tested by children, who enjoy playing with it. Nevertheless, with each and every activity, we are encouraging young learners to build their confidence in learning. LOGICO does exactly just that.

LOGICO in education

So, how does this fit in with teaching children with Special Educational Needs?

Enjoyability and building confidence – these are the key words to success with any learner. Moreover, LOGICO is easy to differentiate. There are 11 available card sets in the LOGICO PRIMO range. This spans over the age bracket of 3 to 6 years. Each learning card set has an age shown, for guidance. So, teachers can choose the most appropriate sets for their learners. Furthermore, learning cards in each set start with easier levels, progressing towards more difficult ones. So, the skills gained in each task build up towards the next one.
The blog post also highlighted that children do not need to speak, read or write to use LOGICO. It is indeed very special, giving children a chance to progress in learning new skills, regardless any of these abilities.

Teachers have achieved great results using LOGICO with children with Special Educational Needs. Patience is usually a key to learning. LOGICO encourages this by using bright, colourful buttons which children need to physically handle. Children slide the buttons next to the correct solution, without noticing that they are practising a pencil grasp!

Patience?

Teachers said that the children using LOGICO became more patient, over time. The LOGICO method contributes to this. First, an adult has to explain the task. This is followed by children selecting a colourful button and finding the corresponding coloured spot on the task area. After children worked out the solution, they need to look on the right-hand side of the task card. Then, move the button to the correct position. You can, of course, work ‘backwards’ and start by looking at the images on the right-hand side. Either way, there is a real method and challenge in the process. This gives that extra twist to encourage children’s logical thinking.

Being independent is so important! When children move all six buttons in their positions, they can easily check their answers by flipping the cards over. The solutions are on the back of each card. Children can see whether their answers are correct!

LOGICO in education

Tactile, screen-free and portable

LOGICO does not require batteries and it is screen-free. ‘Unplugged’, as they call it! It is portable and is easy to handle. LOGICO is durable and wipeable. Therefore, it can be used either either indoors or outdoors. LOGICO is portable, as it can be used on the move. For example, in the car, on the train, on the beach or any other outdoor setting. There are no loose parts at all. Another bonus is that the buttons, once slid into position, will stay where they are. This means, that children can always go back to to the task, where they left it.

Being screen-free is a huge bonus. Using screens has been controversial and it is still not clear what impact screens really have on us and our children. The illustrations and colours used in LOGICO are age-appropriate. Whilst gently stimulating children’s learning, the illustrations also engage them. Children can relate to the images as they often depict scenes from their daily lives. For example, what children do in different times of the day, such as at bedtime or playing with sand or particular toys and so on.

LOGICO is just a starting point

LOGICO perfectly complements teaching. The various topics fit in really well with children’s everyday learning in this age group. By doing so, each card can be a conversation or a start of something more or bigger. For example, if you counted shapes on a LOGICO card, why not practise drawing these shapes afterwards? Children are also happy to talk about the illustrations. This helps expand children’s vocabulary and later on, this can lead to practising sounds (phonics learning) or writing.

Would you like to find out more?

Drop us an e-mail via hello@logicotoys.co.uk or call us on + 330 133 1628.

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Easter special

HAPPY EASTER FROM LOGICO UK

Getting ready for Easter?

Celebrate Easter with spending quality time together, with your children! Are you looking for something fun and educational at the same time?

So, LOGICO has been specially designed by teachers, for children. Each and every activity is different and engaging. Learning card sets focus on the development of a certain set of skills, but each time using a different approach.

So, what sort of starter sets are available?

Do you own your LOGICO PRIMO frame already? You can, of course, buy individual card sets:

Booster packs on the go!

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Using LOGICO in the classroom – Teacher interviews

This is the summary of the second part of Andrea’s interview, where she asked her fellow colleagues to find out how they use LOGICO in their classroom teaching. 

Why do you use LOGICO in your classroom? What benefits and learning opportunities can you see in this learning resource?

‘It motivates students, thanks to the design and the easy handling of the learning material’ (i.e. LOGICO frame and learning cards)


‘It is possible to differentiate and to support individual students’


‘(LOGICO) makes it possible to provide students with specific and meaningful tasks’


‘With LOGICO’, students can work at their own pace. Students can check their own solutions and record the results by themselves’

How much do your students like working with LOGICO?

Fellow colleagues found that almost all children like working with LOGICO and for an extended period of time. Teachers often use LOGICO during ‘free learning’ phases, where children can choose their own learning activities.

Teachers reasoned as:

‘The (LOGICO) content and themes are child-oriented and appealing to children’


‘Children are given instant feedback with the possibility of self-checking’


‘Students are not required to write’


Are there any potential difficulties using LOGICO?

Teachers agreed that, just like using any other differentiated teaching materials, it requires longer preparation of the activity.

In conclusion, teachers have found that LOGICO is a useful classroom resource and it is very rewarding to work with. Once integrated in one’s classroom teaching, LOGICO provides an opportunity for teachers to encourage and challenge children through the tasks provided. LOGICO complements other teaching resources and materials really well. Teachers feel more confident at supporting students at their individual levels and provide a more tailored approach to differentiated tasks.