How Mr. Rogers’ Pedagogy is Relevant to Educational iPad Games

November 12, 2019 / Parent Resources

Fred McFeely Rogers was one of the first television personalities to touch upon social-emotional learning on TV. The “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” show aired as an educational program for children, educating them using music, puppetry and workshops. Rogers believed that children’s development at the preschool age was essential to their success in the long run. In the show, he acts as a guide to children regarding various issue, delivering his ideas as helpful suggestions from a friendly mentor. He used to deliver clear messages to his early childhood audience in a sing-song manner along with music. The music is a clear and simple language to get through to preschoolers who usually don’t have a well-developed vocabulary at their age.

Mr. Rogers’ Learning Strategy used in present day educational games

Rogers had said play was serious learning and that it was the work of childhood. This meant that children fundamentally learn through play, and both free-form and planned play have a significant role in children’s development. 

The design of present day educational games for kids recognize that play is essentially how children learn and utilize game play to fulfill learning objectives. Educational iPad games use gamification in learning as Rogers did, to teach essential cognitive and social-emotional skills. Osmo learning systems include educational iPad games using hands-on play as a natural medium to develop cognitive and social-emotional skill sets in children.

There were several elements of the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” show that encourages children’s development: 

Hands-on Play

Rogers generally started off the show with hands-on activities such as workmanship or cooking. The range of activities would include putting together a three legged seat or making a pretzel from scratch. It also featured trips to the crayon factory or an automated pretzel making line serving as on-show field trips for children. The show always highlighted that hands-on play is essential to build hand-eye coordination and other fine motor skills required for everyday tasks. 

Pretend Play

The show also had a segment called the “Land of make-believe” which included a world of hand puppets and people who co-existed in harmony. He used a play sized version of a tram car called “The Neighbourhood Trolley” which served as a bridge between the real world and the world of puppets. This was to help children differentiate between pretend play and the real world. A majority of the hand puppet characters were voiced by Rogers himself, adding roleplay to the set of learning methods used on the show. Roleplay and pretend play are helpful in building children’s imagination and help children express themselves. 

Osmo brings together the virtue of hands-on play and digital engagement to get children learning while they play. Osmo Little Genius Costume Party game lets children have silly fun while playing dress-up with an online character. Children experience hands-on play with the physical game pieces to dress up the online character. They can also color the character using an online palette of colors. Children can learn color coordination here and just have fun without too many restrictions and rules. 

Social-Emotional Learning

Rogers used appropriate voice modulation while communicating with the audience to get his message across clearly. He spoke about the right way to handle emotions such as anger, sadness and anxiety. He believed in self-regulation – it was okay to feel anger, but it was not ok to act out in anger, such as harming others or breaking things. Coping mechanisms and self-regulation skills in today’s world are said to be as essential as cognitive skills, making this aspect of the show relevant today as well.

Osmo learning systems include fun iPad learning games which help children pick up essential cognitive and social emotional skills. Osmo Pizza Co. helps children develop real world math skills and also teaches them how to read social-emotional cues to know  when people are happy or annoyed. Children get to run a pizzeria and need to ensure that they get their order right and give the right change back. When playing, children will get on screen feedback as the customers express joy or annoyance at how their order is handled. The physical game pieces help children benefit from hands-on play while digital media on screen enhances engagement.

Rogers helped focus on the importance of customized education for preschoolers ranging from the content of what was said to the tone of voice used. Various aspects of the show were tailor made to help preschool children understand the world in which they lived. Educational learning games currently are designed around the same objectives of cognitive and social-emotional learning. If you want to give your children a headstart in social-emotional skills, get your child developmentally appropriate educational iPad games and watch the magic unfold!