Play that Works
This was where the magic really started to come together. The Hopelab team shared key learnings from our own work with kids, classroom teachers, physical activity, and play-based interventions. We knew, for example, from our work on Zamzee, that to get kids more physically active, it was key to tap into intrinsic motivation and kid-driven fun. And from our time working directly with public elementary school teachers and classrooms in South Carolina, we knew: that in order to be successful, any approach must be part of the ecosystem for teachers so that it’s not thought of as an “add-on” but as something that fits into the existing SEL and curriculum goals the school already has. And, perhaps most importantly, it must solve problems for teachers, rather than create them. Which means, if teachers are looking for brief moments to help them make transitions, “get the wiggles out” before focusing a class on a math lesson, or creating opportunities to work together effectively, a successful classroom product needs to solve those, while delivering on its social, emotional, and academic skills goals. If the product can achieve those things, it will be a success. And it turns out that moments of thoughtfully-designed “play” can achieve all this and more. And Kid Power happened to have these moments squarely in mind.
As the Kid Power team shared more about the product and the idea that the physical activity videos could provide needed “brain breaks” during the school day, a lightbulb went off for the Hopelab team. We immediately saw the synergy with Brain Games, an intervention designed by Dr. Stephanie Jones at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to engage moments of play to build and practice executive function and self-regulation in the classroom. Brain Games are designed to be fun and easy-to-play games that teachers can do at interstitial moments in their day and can more easily fit into what are often packed schedules for teachers and students. Hopelab had worked with Dr. Jones on refining and studying Brain Games in 2015 and found that teachers did want “brain break” tools but that these needed to be very simple to implement and integrate into daily practice. We shared those learnings with the Kid Power team and validated their instincts that short, easy to use videos might be particularly appealing and useful to teachers.