Sunday, February 21, 2016

Let's Play!

If you follow me on Facebook, I'm sure you are familiar with my opinion on the importance of play. I believe that play is a vital part of a child's development & needs to be included in everyone's daily schedule. My Kinders get to play for about 20 - 25 minutes each day (they also get two 20 minute recesses daily). Countless studies have shown the value of play. Kids practice social & verbal skills while playing, but the benefits don't end there. The "brain break" provided by play helps improve cognitive skills, thinking, behavior & attitude, focus, and (dare I say it) test scores. With the current fixation on testing & test scores, one would think that all students should be given plenty of time for kid-directed play.

As I said, my Kinders are lucky to be given ample time to play: large motor twice daily at recess & creatively at the end of each day. During our free play (called Developmental Centers) my kiddos get to do things such as color, create books (using a stapler ~ such fun!), play in the kitchen area, read, play board games, do puzzles, build with blocks, play with playdough, and make Lego creations. Of course, this is a partial list of the free-choice activities that are available.

But, one thing that is not available during play time is technology. Our Developmental Centers are unplugged! At first students asked to use the computers & tablets during play, but after being told "no" enough times they don't bother to ask any more. I decided to ban technology during play time because I felt that they get more than enough screen time outside of school, and far less than enough creative play outside of school. Playing on Mom's phone is quiet & simple. Making a race track with blocks and playing with playdough is noisy & messy. But, kids learn from noisy & messy. And, noisy & messy is more fun.

If your admin isn't convinced on the importance of play, here are a few pictures of "STEM-like" free play in my classroom. Just looking at them proves that "play is the highest form of research."

These little guys created this wall "to keep the girls out." While I didn't really approve of their reason, I am a fan of the construction. Look closely ~ they needed to piece together some of the wall. I dare anyone to tell me that they wasted their time!

Another awesome block creation. The above wall was all about fractions, this one speaks of symmetry. Hmm, looks like these kids are using higher levels of math than what's on the kindergarten CCSS! And, they look pretty happy about it, too.

Recently they have been playing with the dominoes. At first they made simple lines, but soon moved onto intricate patterns with swirls, levels, and multiple lines. They have changed locations and even included other objects within their domino runs.

It took a while, but they figured out how to get two lines to fall. I would say that this gave them lots of practice with problem solving & perseverance. 

Check out the arrangement of the dominoes these girls are trying. (They did learn that the top of our check in board wasn't the best spot for a domino run, but they figured this out on their own ~ I didn't tell them.)  Last week a group of boys used blocks as dominoes & made a pretty impressive run with the blocks going up a series of steps. Unfortunately I didn't grab my phone when they called me over to the block center. I told them that they would have to rebuild it so I can take a video of it in action.

I do try to take videos of their projects in action whenever possible. They love to see themselves, and I attach the pictures & videos to my newsletter for the parents to see the amazingness of their kids.

We have a little tub of these little linking things. (They were inherited, I'm not sure what they are called.) Anyway, the kids really like them. This little boy made a robot with them. I've seen a lot of airplanes and rockets made from them. Creativity at work!

I just realized that this post mostly featured boys. There are a couple reasons: I have mostly boys, and the girls don't seem to build as much as the boys. I'm not sure why, but because I let the kids pick what they do during Developmental Centers, I figure they are reaping the benefits of kid-driven play, too.  (I need to take some pictures & write another post on play. It won't be too hard, because it's something I really believe in...) Click HERE to read an earlier "Let's Play!" post. Get the poster below for free in my Teachers pay Teachers store HERE.

Get this poster for free HERE!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...