SAIIER 2019:Aurogames

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SAIIER 2018-19
Aurogames
Research, Development and Implementation


by Paula C.


The aims of this project were:

  • To utilize games created by Auroculture; conduct active research in the form of game sessions and develop the games further.
  • To get a better understanding to see if these games could become tools for the implementation of integral education.

Description of project:

My research is centered on game sessions with people aged 3 to 80+. The games made by Auroculture do not have any instructions. Therefore, one looks inside a box and creatively imagines how to use the game. A graphic artist (to date, 3 different volunteers) reproduced the games digitally. Then they were printed in Pondicherry, and finally produced into a game at home. Once copies of the game were made, I would guide people in the play. I also encouraged free exploration with the material to see how people chose to play with it. Some of the expansions to the “Kaleidoscope” game have been from the feedback of people working with the material (i.e. “Pattern Building Challenge”, and “Paint and Create Your Own Pattern Building Game”).

The wheel below illustrates the circular fashion of the research. This research in play guides the researcher to be flexible. The observations of play lead to the development of the game itself and how it can be played. It is not molding people to adapt to rigid rules. Playing the game should lead towards what it was intended to develop (e.g. focus, cooperation, memory, creativity, etc.). When it doesn’t, this becomes an opportunity to take a step back, be open to ideas and make adaptations to the rules or the game itself.  Then have more sessions and observe the play.


Aurogames 2019 wheel diagram.png


For example, two friends were working cooperatively on pattern building. Though they were focused in the play, I observed moments of disharmony and subtle competition while grabbing cards. I did not interfere. After they completed the pattern I asked if they wanted to build another one, only differently. The test was to build a different pattern in silence. They agreed to the challenge. I witnessed a shift in behavior. They supported each other in complete harmony.

Auroculture’s games are all visually appealing. They work at developing the faculty of sight. What makes them more appealing are the countless possibilities to test the development of other areas of thinking and awareness that may improve through exploration in play. For example, I adapted the rules of a memory game to shift the play from competition to cooperation while working on memory, focus and teamwork. Thereby the aim of any game/activity is to target and develop faculties like concentration, problem solving, perseverance, imagination, intuition, creativity, cooperation, harmony, etc. through play.


Aurogames 2019 pattern match game.jpg


This year I had regular sessions with children at the Kindergarten summer program (4 weeks), a kindergarten class at Isai Ambalam school (weekly), and people at Thamarai Learning Centre aged 6 to young adults (weekly until end of January 2019). I also had children and adults come to my house to play by invitation and request.

Over time I saw a pattern of success when I was able to meet the individual needs of a student. Most of the time this meant that I worked one-on-one with a child. They were learning through play. This engaged their curiosity, individuality (how they chose to play with the materials), creativity, while developing perseverance and focus. As I video recorded portions of the sessions I was able to confirm that young children at Isai Ambalam school had moments of selective focused attention (i.e. attending to the activity to the exclusion of all other sensory inputs). Game sessions took place in a small room with no door, off a large hall. There were times when a group of children would have a class in the hall. Though there was a lot of talking and noise, sometimes other children looking into the space we were using, the child remained poised, engrossed in the activity. It was extraordinary to witness.

Outcomes:

Auroculture’s “Kaleidoscope” game was developed into 7 different activities (pattern match and mirror mirage, pattern building, pattern building challenge, cooperative memory game, paint and create your own pattern building game {utilized by children at Thamarai}, colour and create your own pattern match game {utilized by children at the Kindergarten summer program and all children in the upper kindergarten at Isai Ambalam}, and Colour Me Mandala).

All people that had an opportunity to engage in the games benefited from a session. Everyone enjoyed playing.

The following was published in the December Newsletter for Isai Ambalam school:

Aurogame sessions by Paula Caesar
“Paula Caesar has been coming to Isai Ambalam once a week to work with the KG children on patterns and games. As teachers of KG we have noticed after attending Paula's class, Sairam has developed an interest to create many designs on his own in his class. He created some designs with wooden blocks and has a good perception and his structures have increased in complexity. He is willing to help others when they are doing the activities in the class-room. He speaks more about Paula's mirror activity (how a pattern looks when you have two mirrors) at home. From the last month after attending Paula’s class Varathan shows increased creativity. He involves himself into many activities including reading. With any material he comes across on the ground like sticks, leaves, pebbles he likes to create some designs. Before attending Paula’s class Loshika didn’t involve in any activities enthusiastically. Now she is able to create some designs and shapes by using the pieces of paper in indoor activities. After attending Paula's class, we have seen Rithika is gradually improving in her memory. She is now able to concentrate from the beginning of the activities. Earlier she only observed the activities, but now she is involving herself and enjoys all the new activities in Paula's class.”

Reflections:

In the original project I had planned to have someone working with me full time. This did not work out and in December I took over all game sessions for this and the “FACES – A Cooperative Memory Game” project (see separate report). This meant a lot of time and work. However, I learned a lot in the process. For instance, I wanted to support more children in play. I started to take more than one child per session. Very quickly it became clear that this strategy did not work. Usually I was unable to meet the needs of these children. In March, Arpana joined me. What we noticed: children would call out our names to get our attention when our focus was on another child. When we worked one on one, we were mostly silent observers. Our quiet focus on the child supported them in their exploration. A few children still wanted acknowledgment at each step, yet if this was met with a smile and quiet presence, they quickly reengaged in the game.

Another great learning opportunity was at Thamarai Learning Centre. Though I enjoyed working with the kids and team it was very challenging. I did not have a separate space to have the sessions and children all came at different times. What normally happened, children would be engaged in an activity and another child would come and talk to them. It was all in goodwill, yet this made it impossible to use the games to develop attention. This difficulty gave me further clarity in the need for a separate space to have sessions.

Conclusion:

Based on my explorations with Aurogames this year, I want to continue in this research. My experience with the games indicate that they are helpful in the development of attention. With the support of SAIIER, I plan to investigate this possibility with more rigorous research tools and methods.


Video documentation:


See also