If you spent your summer on a desert island, you may have missed the latest action based app, Pokemon Go! This app is a game for all ages that requires players to move around their community to catch Pokemon with their cellular device. If you have no idea what a Pokemon is, here is the definition from Pokemon.com:
Pokémon are creatures of all shapes and sizes who live in the wild or alongside humans. For the most part, Pokémon do not speak except to utter their names. Pokémon are raised and commanded by their owners (called “Trainers”). During their adventures, Pokémon grow and become more experienced and even, on occasion, evolve into stronger Pokémon. There are currently more than 700 creatures that inhabit the Pokémon universe.
Sound familiar?! As the teachers/trainers of our own little creatures, we provide children with experiences to help them grow and evolve into stronger, smarter, healthier human beings. I have 380 of my own little Pokemon at Southdown Primary. Therefore, to take advantage of the pop culture craze, I decided to merge the two worlds and use Pokemon to help our students set goals, evaluate their progress and evolve into physically literate creatures. I had no idea how powerful the analogy would become for some students.
Here is an example, using a conversation I had with a kindergarten student:
Teacher: Bobby, why are you sitting here?
Bobby: I can’t jump rope.
Teacher: How do you know? Look here, right now you are inside the Pokeball. You’re getting ready to learn. Once you start trying you will start evolving into a Caterpie.
Bobby: I want to become a Metapod!
Bobby jumped up and started trying. He quickly evolved into a Caterpie and soon became a Metapod. He continues to jump and strives to become a Butterfree.
The Pokemon concept has taken on a life of its own. As different scenarios arise, new Pokemon programs get implemented. We now have a Pokemon advisory board made up of a group of boys that were formerly off task and disruptive. They advise us on which Pokemon can be used to represent different skills. Our 4th graders have personal avatars and earn Pokemon as they accomplish tasks. We are currently working on a physical activity version of Pokemon Go to support vocabulary and will begin playing it with small groups of students during dismissal.
If you are currently using Pokemon as a theme in your gymnasium, please include me in your Tweets, Shares, and Pins! Let’s keep evolving!