This may be a bit fragmented. Forgive me.
Play is important. Also, "failure" is important.
Students should be allowed, even prompted, to try things that probably won't work. If you're so afraid to fail, you'll never try anything except what's easy and/or has been done before.
Don't think I'm suggesting this at the expense of work. I understand work, I know it's value. I think most people do. Value becomes apparent when environments aren't artificially constructed. Work shouldn't be so severely divided from play. In an ideal situation, they aren't always that different.
And, as mentioned above, kids (and adults) should be encouraged to play constructively, in an open-ended fashion. They should be given toys without an absolute clear procedure. They'll figure out what to do with their toys, don't worry. You could give them toys like some of the ones these guys have.
These two aren't the most amazing orators, but they've got some good stuff to show.
You should check out the Art Center Design Conference "Serious Play". Worth a bit of your time.
And now, something completely different.
I was excited yesterday to constructively use one of the applications on my phone. I was at D.I., and they played a song I really like, had heard before, but didn't know the artist or song. The lyrics were indecipherable, except for "la la la". That's not really going to help in a Google search. So I pulled out the G1, and fired up Shazam.
Shazam listens to a song for about ten or fifteen seconds, analyzes it, compares it against a database, and tells you the song, album, artist, and gives you the option to watch the video on or download from Amazon. It was fantastic, technology making my life better. Couple that with Compare Everywhere and mobile access to things like eBay, craigslist, or KSL Classifieds, and I'm a smarter, better informed consumer.
P.S. The song was "La la la" by The Bird and the Bee. To listen, click here.