Friday, July 15, 2016

Tapping into Students Interests and Adapting

Chapter 7
The Power of Tapping Into Student Interests
Learning what are student interests are helps us create a curriculum that drives instruction that allows them to keep learning playful.

Student Interests: An Exploration
When we get to know our students interests, helps us develop a positive relationship with them. It allows our students to feel comfortable taking risks. Many see play in the classroom as a waste of time or as cute, but when we establish a good understanding of our students interests we can see that a block castle took stamina and planning to build it. These are some essential skills that our students need to learn to succeed.

How Do I Gather Data on Student Interests?
Data is the dreaded word these days. We all collect data every day in our content areas of our classrooms. Well, how do we collect the data of our students interests. By watching our students play, you can see what they like and don’t like. For instance, while our students are playing you may see that your boys enjoy playing with cars and making roads. Well, those same boys may be reading below grade level or have difficulties adding in math. What better way than to incorporate their interests into our lessons. We can pull books on cars for them to read and capture their interests. In math, we may use those toy cars as manipulatives to count and add. This is helping them develop the skills they need without them thinking its work. Here are some ways in which we can collect data during play.

Observation is one way we can collect data. Just like we observe our students during content area, we can observe during play. We learn from our students every day. We learn what books they like. We learn if they like to build or draw. All of this can be determined through observation. Here are some questions to think about when you are observing:
-When given free time to draw, what objects or scenes does the child draw?
-When given free choice to write, what topics does the child write about?
-When given free range of the library, what books does the child settle with?
-What are the child’s most common play themes in free play?
-What does the child talk about with her peers during unstructured times?
-When given free choice, what is a child most drawn to: running around, talking with friends, or drawing?
-What tasks does the child seem most engaged in? Least engaged in?
-Does the child prefer large groups? Small? To be on his own?
-What part of the room is the child most drawn to? The rug? The tables?
-What materials is the child most drawn to? What about during recess?

When we have conversations with our students, we can answer a variety of questions. We can dig deeper into what they are creating. During the first few weeks it is often hard to engage in these conversations with our students as we are often assessing to determine our students needs. Here are some ways in which we can get to know them and keep data.
-Make informal notes. Divide a sheet into 2 columns: one side will be typical assessment notes and the other will be notes about students’ interests and activities they prefer.
-While observing during academics, ask students’ “What do they like to write or read about?”
-Keep a list of who you have conversations with so you can interact with all students.
-Incorporate share time or show and tell. This will also help develop their oral language skills.

How Do I Use Student Interests?

Adapting Classroom Libraries
Take a look at your classroom library. Do the topics in your classroom library match your students interests? Is it organized with your students in mind? Let’s all think about our classroom libraries. At the end of this school, I started reorganizing my library to make it easier on my students. (I will be posting about it once I get my new classroom setup and can take pictures.) I know I may not have books that interest my students, which is normal because their interests are always changing. Here are some ways we can get books for our classroom without breaking the bank.
-See if your school will buy books. At many schools, principals need to spend money or they will lose it. They usually have to spend it in the fall or in the spring right before the end of school or they loss the money. Just ask! It can’t hurt!
-Ask local libraries. Sometimes they may donate books. Teachers can check out unlimited amounts of books in some areas. You can check them out and then return them.
-Make your own books. Take pictures, illustrate, and write your own books. Students LOVE to see their own writing published and LOVE sharing it with each other.
-Ask, share, and borrow with co-workers. I personally have tons and tons of books. Shoot, I even have multiple copies of titles.
-Scholastic Book Clubs are also a great source. When parents buy books, you receive points. Then, you can get free books with those points. LOVE that!

Adapting Provided Materials
All curriculum comes with provided materials. You don’t always have to use them. Instead of using the alphabet chart that is provided with the curriculum have your students’ create one. Those math manipulatives that they provide, use other objects to count. Instead of connecting cubes, use shaped or themed erasers or even small toys like dinosaurs. Practicing letter writing, use shaving cream on the table or squirt some paint in a Ziploc bag, zip it up, and your students write letters on the bag. There are so many possibilities.

Finding More Choice for Children
One of the simplest ways to tap into our students interests is very simple. Give them choices. When we allow them to make choices, they will be more engaged. Here are some very simple ways to allow them to make choices:
-Seating: Allow for flexible seating- floor, table, carpet, by themselves, with a group
-Writing: pencil, skinny marker, pen, colored pencil
-Topic in writing
-Topics in reading

Sometimes after getting to know our students, we may have to rearrange our classrooms to better accommodate them. Remember to be flexible!

Teacher Mindset and Language
Remember we are the example for our students. If they see us being silly, telling jokes, dancing, they will feel more comfortable doing so. When we play with our students, they are able to see more of who we are and we in turn grow with them. Get down on the ground with them and play. So much can be learned while playing with them. You are modeling for them, you are observing, and engaging with them. When planning your instruction think of these things:
-Can I use a visual or story from a topic my class enjoys?
-Is there a prop, a tool, or a movement I can use to make this more engaging?
-Is there a way to incorporate other materials I know my students will enjoy?

What are some materials or ideas that we can use in our classrooms to make them more adaptable for our students?

Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading Purposeful Play. Find it  HERE. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Play and a Growth Mindset

Chapter 6
Play And A Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset: An Exploration
There are 2 mindsets- a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. When someone has a fixed mindset, one believes that intelligence is static. Most of our students have a fixed mindset. You know them. “I can’t do this.” “I’m not good at math.” “I don’t know how to read.” “I can’t write. I don’t know how to spell.” Let’s face it, we have all done this at some point in our life. A growth mindset is when we show effort in our work to become successful. We look for feedback to help us succeed. We show perseverance when things get difficult. Last year I did this lesson on perseverance at the beginning of each year. I got the idea from Tara West from “Little Minds AtWork”. You can watch the video here. 

It was the best decision I made to do with my little learners. By doing this lesson, it helped my students develop many growth mindset qualities, such as persistence, flexibility, metacognition, curiosity, and risk-taking. We discussed ways we show perseverance every day. Through play, we can see our students’ growth mindset. They show it when building with blocks. They may be building a huge city, but what happens when it falls over. Well, they rebuild it of course. How about when our students are on the playground and they are playing on the monkey bars? Of course, they may fall off, but you will see them get right back up and try it again. What are they doing this time? They are showing their growth mindset in a risk-free environment. Let’s think of how we can teach this to them during play.

Exploring Growth Mindsets in Play
There are very few places in which children feel comfortable taking risks. Not every child comes to school with play experiences. We may have to facilitate that in the beginning of the school year. It is critical to develop growth mindset through play.

Focus Area: Brains, Like Bodies, Can Grow and Change
First, we must understand that our brain is not fixed. It is flexible and can change. By developing growth mindset, we can foster certain characteristics, such as resilience, optimism, empathy, flexibility, and persistence. We can help our students develop these through storytelling, self-talk, reflection, and goal setting.

When children need:
Talking oneself through challenges
What we might teach:
-How to talk to yourself when things are hard

When children need:
Recovering from mistakes
What we might teach:
-Reflect on what happened, and generate options to make it work better the next time.
-Use self-talk to calm down and start again

When children need:
Trying something new
What we might teach:
-Set goals
-Make a step-by-step plan before you start

When children need:
Sticking with a challenge
What we might teach:
-Use self-talk to help you get through this
-Take a break and get back in

Curriculum Connections: Collaboration and Negotiation

The Promise of Yet: Thinkers Grow in Reading, Writing, Math, and the Content Areas

An important aspect of reading workshop is the sharing and reflection time. Often times, we select work to share because they have meet the standard. We can restructure this by having students share based on their strong work towards reaching that standard.

Similar to reading, rather than celebrate completed work, we can celebrate throughout the writing process. We can highlight the editing process, celebrate a student trying to spell a word of his/her own, and eventually reflect on their process to their final piece.

In Math, we can have them reflect on what they did when they faced a challenge. We can discuss trying one strategy and then another.

Social Studies
Our students get the opportunity to make sense of what they notice, wonder, and think about the community around them.

In assessment these days, we are forced to have a fixed mindset when assessing our students. We are often required to give a grade or even a 1, 2, 3,and 4 for benchmarks. A child who receives a 1 or a 2 is often seen as a failure. However if we think of this same child with a growth mindset, this same child may receive a “not yet” instead of a numerical number, which shows us hope that the child will meet the benchmark. It may take this child longer than others, but they will get there.

By expanding our thoughts on growth mindset and establishing this in our students through play we will see them learning the skills needed to succeed.

How can we show growth mindset in our classrooms through play?

Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading   Purposeful Play. Find it  HERE. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Today was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. I decided to close one chapter in my life and open the doors to a new one.

See I teach at a charter school. I have taught with this company for 9 year. Yup, 9 years! I have experienced so much in those 9 years. Recently, I have been facing the dreaded teacher burnout. I needed to make a change.

You see there are 3 different types of changes that a teacher can make when they face burnout. Change in grade level, change in career, or change in school. Well, I knew I didn’t want to change in grade level. My heart belongs with Kindergarten. I can’t see it any other way right now. Yeah, maybe in a few years I’ll want to change but right now it’s Kindergarten all the way! A career change isn’t something I wanted to do. I mean, I thought about it but I couldn’t see myself doing anything different. Well that left, a change in school. Yup, I thought about it. I thought about it a lot. Did I want to start over? Would I want to change schools? Would I want my daughter to change schools? What would it be like? There were so many questions running through my head.

Well, I decided to do it. I decided to take the plunge. After teaching for 12 years, 9 of which were with my current charter school company. I decided to make a change and move to a new school that is opening in my area. I will still be teaching Kindergarten. I will be a part of opening a new STEAM school. I am very excited for this new chapter. Sure, I’m going to miss a lot of the friends I have made at my old school. I’m going to miss all my friends that I have made within the company. I’m going to miss all the families that have been in my room over the years. There is so much I’m going to miss. I am however looking forward to all the new things that I will be experiencing. 

Collaborating While Playing

Chapter 5
Playing Together: Teaching Kids to Collaborate and Negotiate

Imagine sitting in training and everyone is sitting side by side and not saying a word. Imagine a classroom where children are playing with blocks and not saying a word to each other while playing. That would be working and playing with no collaboration. In order to be successful in life, we need to learn to collaborate. What better way to teach collaboration to our students than through play?

Collaboration: An Exploration
Common Core Standards state that students must be able to work and communicate with other people in an effective way. Collaboration enhances student learning.

Play Means Learning to Collaborate
In order to collaborate effectively, we need to develop interpersonal intelligence. Interpersonal skills can be developed over time and what better way than through play. Play is a natural way for children to solve problems, control their impulses, understand their emotions, see perspectives of others, understand differences, and learn to get along with others. There is no other way for children to learn these skills than through play. Self-chosen free play allows our students to make decisions and work collaborative to make those decisions. Organized sports activities do not allow students to make the decisions as adults usually determine what roles each child is playing.

Collaboration Means Learning to Self-Regulate
Collaborative play has many benefits. Children learn to balance their needs with their classmates. Our students are learning self-restraint when playing. They may want to play a certain game or play with a certain object yet their classmates may want to do something different. They will have to restrain their feelings and work together to play.

Collaboration Means Learning to Communicate
Another aspect of learning that is enhanced during play is language. As our students take on different roles, they are learning different language structures, such as persuasion. Our ELL students can benefit immensely through play. As they build, act, and draw they are talking in a risk free environment which will enhance their language skills.

Exploring Empathy Collaboration and Negotiation in Play
This section is to help us think of ways to focus on collaboration in the classroom.
Focus Area: Playing Together Means Working and Thinking Together
Within the first few minutes of the first day of school, we can easily determine what our students know about working together. We can determine this when we ask them to sit on the carpet. We can also see it when they have choices to make at recess, lunch, and free play. We just need to observe our students and what they know.
When children need:
Basic problem solving
What we might teach:
-Problems come in different sizes and need different solutions
-Using “I” messages
-Using a problem-solving chart
-Simple ways to solve disputes

When children need:
More sophisticated conversational skills (listening, clarifying, and disagreeing politely)
What we might teach:
-Rules of active listening
-Questions to get more information
-Sentence frames to agree/disagree/add on

When children need:
Help collaborating within a center
What we might teach:
-Making a to-do list for the jobs in a center
-Looking at books for story ideas and negotiating the roles from the book
-Varied planning sheets to problem solve ideas

Curriculum Connections: Collaboration and Negotiation

Group Brain Power
As we teach our students to collaborate in play, we a teaching them to listen, ask thoughtful questions, and value ideas. This enhances their brains to strengthen their ideas.

Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening are the foundational skills for our young readers and writers. It is also a fundamental skill in collaborating. When our students are talking to each other, they are asking questions, discussing topics, and processing what others are saying. Through play, we are teaching our students to listen and read body language, empathy, and hearing what others are saying.

One way to incorporate collaboration in reading is through working with partners. Students will be able to read, think, talk, explore, play, teach, and collaborate with each other while working on their reading skills.

In writing, our students can collaborate by listening to each other’s ideas, offer compliments, ask for help, read each other’s writing, and even coauthor together.

By providing math centers, our students learn in the same way to collaborate as in reading.

Social Studies
In Social Studies, our students will be able to explore a topic through reading, photos, videos, and discussion.

What are some ideas you have from this chapter?

Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading Purposeful Play. Find it  HERE. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Caring Kids in the Classroom

Chapter 4
Caring Kids: Teaching Empathy Through Play

Empathy: An Exploration

The Seeds of Empathy
Empathy is our ability to feel what another person is feeling. It is what helps us care about what happens to others and build relationships. Through play children build empathy. Students may be playing tag and one students begins to cry. The other student is understanding that what they think is fun is not always fun for another. Empathy can be developed through the social aspect of play.

Choosing Empathy Means Choosing Play
Children these days have become very dependent on electronics which has become to affect their social skills. Children often tune out when using electronic devices that they don’t socialize with others. Through imaginative play, children have the chance to show empathy through role playing. They can be a chef, a mom, etc. This gives them the chance to understand what it is like to be that person and what they experience. Through rough and tumble play, children have the chance to explore empathy while playing tag by learning to set boundaries, and give and take.

Exploring Empathy in Play

Focus Area One: Studying Faces and Bodies to Understand Emotions (My Own and Others)
Our children feel strongly each and every day.  Many children experience their feelings for the first time in school. They may get jealous of friends playing with others. They may feel frustrated when they are playing and things aren’t going their way. Our jobs as educators is to help them understand their emotions. Here are some ways we might teach the studying of faces and bodies to understand emotions.
When children need:
An understanding of a range of emotions
What we might teach:
-Feelings can go from big to small.
-Faces and bodies tell us how other people are feeling.
-Precise language helps us name and change our feelings.

When children need:
Help with calming down or changing feelings from negative to positive
What we might teach:
-Signs you are getting excited
-Strategies to calm your body
-Stop and think

When children need:
An ability to “read” and react to others’ faces and bodies when playing
What we might teach:
-Using words to get more information
-Sort photos of faces into categories

Focus Area Two: Taking on Roles to Build Perspective Taking
When learning empathy it also requires us to step into another’s role fully. By role playing, we lay the essential foundation for perspective taking. Here are ways we might teach this.
When children need:
Support talking like other characters in order to better understand their perspective
What we might teach:
-Common language of certain roles: family members, friends, waiters, cashiers, doctors, etc.
-Observing closely by watching videos, taking trips, and reading books.

When children need:
Help transforming their appearance to better understand another’s perspective
What we might teach:
-Different ways to manipulate art materials
-Studying photos bit by bit to get small details

When children need:
Help transforming their actions to better understand another’s perspective
What we might teach:
-Storytelling with fairy tales and fables and asking
-Acting activities

When children need:
Using perspective taking to better understand others
What we might teach:
-Reflection questions

Is It Done? Are We Empathic Yet?
Developing empathy is never done. It takes time. We will need to revisit it throughout the year as our children grow and change.

Curriculum Connections: Empathy
Empathy is often developed during choice time, but it does branch out into other aspects of our daily routine.

By developing a child’s empathy, they will have a better understanding of a character’s emotions. They will be able to understand how a character is feeling.


Students have a better understanding of how people act and feel, which will help them to move from summary writing to storytelling.

Social Studies
Students will be able to make real world connections about feelings when studying the community around us.

What are some ideas you have from this chapter?

Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading Purposeful Play. Find it  HERE. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Creating Playful Environments

Chapter 3
Creating Playful Environments

If You Build It, They Will Play

We often set up our classrooms for us. We careful choose our color schemes or themes. We place everything in the perfect location in the room. We have everything completely organized. Then, BAM! Within the first hour, everything has changed. Our carefully thought out classroom has been changed. Our students move things. They do what works for them. We like to think our classroom space belongs to our students, but in reality most of the time we create it for what works best for us. This section will talk about changing the classroom for our students, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have an influence. (Wink, wink)

Space: The First Frontier

Space in our classrooms is always a hot commodity. Us teachers are hoarders. We don’t want to give up any of that furniture, because let’s face it. Once it’s gone, IT’S GONE! Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve given up a table or bookshelf to another teacher and then needed it later on. But you know what, I survived. I made things work. Plus, if I had it in my room, it would have taken up space and made things more cluttered. Take the time and go through your room and really consider what you really need.

These are some things to consider when planning out your room:
-Leave Open Spaces for Children’s Creations
-The authors’ suggest to provide a space where children can leave their structures out for up to multiple days. I don’t know about you, but my room is often used by the aftercare children. This will be especially hard to do since they will more than likely touch the structures.  
-Use Furniture Flexibly
-Provide Different Kinds of Spaces Within the Classroom
-Ask Children How They Would Like to Use the Space in the Room
-The authors’ reference one teacher allowed her Second Grade students to design the classroom for learning. On the first day of school, she had here students help set up the classroom.

Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition
Here are some questions that the authors’ want you to think about when setting up your classroom:
-Do you have flexible seating options (standing, sitting, laying) and the items to support it?
-Can you repurpose furniture (e.g., make tables shorter or taller, replace a regular table with a sand table with cover) to vary the work space in the room?
-Do you have at least one largeish space where children can build and leave their buildings standing?
-Do you have at least one smallish, cozy spot for children to recenter and feel safe?
-Do you have a space in the classroom that allows for big movement?
-Do you have materials easily available for children?
-Do you have a permanent open space to store works in progress?
-Is this environment pleasing to the eye?

Materials for Powerful Play

When organizing your classroom, keep in mind that you will need the following items for the classroom. The authors’ suggest these items for play, as well as using them in the classroom as manipulatives. Here are some suggested items plus some that I have added:
-large, hollow blocks for building large structures
-Cardboard: boxes, rolls, cones, flat pieces
-Markers, crayons, colored pencils
-Pom poms
-Pipe Cleaners
-Tissue Paper
-Mini Shaped Erasers
-Foam Pieces
-Familiar objects from home/parents’ workplaces

Setting the Stage for Community and Caring: Building a Play-Friendly Emotional Environment

Create a Culture of Caring

The first thing that we need to do in order to create a classroom for play is establish a community. We need to set the following principles in our classroom to do so.
-Get to know each other. We need to provide opportunities to interact with each other. What better way than the first week of school? Allow your students to share their feelings, passions and ideas.
-Learn to solve problems by talking through them. Provide your students with opportunities and role play situations with them.
-Talk about self-control. What does it mean? What does it look like?
-Have class meetings to gather to share, reflect, and problem solve. Discuss situations together as a group.

Make Rules That Work

We need to establish rules that work in our classroom. Rules need to be in children’s language. Below are 3 principles to follow:

Rules Are Positive Statements
Rules Are Guidelines
Rules Mean Specific Action

Teaching with Independence in Mind: The Workshop Structure

Just like we teach writing, reading, and math in a workshop manner, we need to consider teaching “play” in this manner as well. Many of our students come into us with different levels of play. Some have only played organized games and sports, while others have played on iPads and other electronics. We also can’t assume that they can all play on the same maturity levels. By having a workshop, it will allow us to assist them in learning social skills and learning habits.

What Does Play Look Like in a Workshop Structure?

There are 2 different types of play workshops.

Choice Time Workshop
Choice Time occurs in the classroom. During Choice Time children choose to play with a variety of materials. Choice Time Workshop looks very familiar to a typical reading, writing, and math workshop. You choose a theme (1-2 minutes), have a focus lesson (3-5 minutes), plan (1-3 minutes), work or play time (30-35 minutes), and share (3-5 minutes). When modeling “choice time”, it will give your students an idea of how they should act and play during that time.


Many schools have a scheduled recess time into their day. By offering a recess workshop, it will allow those students unfamiliar with recess the opportunity to learn from the other students. A recess workshop is similar, but only has 3 parts: focus lesson (3-5 minutes), work or play time (20 minutes), and share (3-5 minutes).

*During work or play time for both workshops, the teacher is observing and offers tips to the students.

What are some ideas you have from this chapter?

Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading Purposeful Play. Find it  HERE. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Balanced Play

Chapter 2
Balanced Play: How It Makes Kids’ Lives Better

What Is Play?

Play is different for every age group. For an adult, play my be building or making something, like Joann from “Fixer Upper” decorates the houses her and her husband fix up. While for others, it may be participating in marathons. For children, play maybe taking all the pots and pans out of the cabinet like my daughter did when she was younger. While it may be play for her, it wasn’t so much for mommy and daddy. LOL! The challenge is defining play. Play can be almost anything as long as it fulfills certain characteristics. The authors of Play for a Change define play as, “what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas, in their own way and for their own reasons” (2008, 10).

Why Is Play Valuable?

Play is not limited to just humans. Go to a zoo or watch animals on a TV show and you will see them using things in their surroundings for play. I remember watching a gorilla at Animal Kingdom with my daughter playing with her food bucket. She would roll it around, place it on her head, and play peekaboo with us watching her. This was her form of play. Another gorilla in the area was picking leaves off of a tree and making things with them. This was their form of play. Play benefits us in many ways by shaping our brain. It helps us to be flexible, resilient, and allows us the ability to deal with complex situations. It allows helps develop stress-response. Think of children building a block tower together. They are working hard putting the pieces in the right spot. Their brain is learning to take risks. If they place a block in a certain place, will the tower fall over? Sometimes it does and they have to start all over. Or another students places a block in a different spot than they wanted it to be place? This is helping them with resilience and building their ability to adapt. As you can see, play is very valuable in helping children develop their minds. Children need to be able to play. We need to provide them with balanced play just as we do with balanced literacy.

Kinds of Play

There are many different kinds of play to be incorporated into balanced play for children. They are fantasy play, constructive play, games with rules, and rough-and-tumble play. Each one helps to enhance a child’s development.

Fantasy/Imaginative Play

Fantasy play is when children choose an imaginary scenario in which they act out roles and determine a set of rules for the roles. This is usually done when children play store. They assign different roles: cashier, shopper, stock person, etc. Each person has their own role and they determine the rules for each role. The stock person or cashier isn’t going to be the one buying the items. The same could be said for my students who loved to play kitchen during inside recess time. Several of them would be the cooks, while others would be the waiters/waitresses and customers. They would create menus and even write down orders on paper before serving the customers. Sometimes if they didn’t have an item they wanted, they would substitute another item for it. For example, one of my students used a block as a phone for taking take-out orders. This helped her develop her abstract thinking.

Constructive Play

Constructive play is an organized form of play that is goal/product oriented. Children use materials to create something. Most constructive play uses materials like blocks, playdough, art materials, and recycled materials. Children can use these materials in a variety of ways to meet standards. For instance, children can use the materials to make murals or costumes for characters to retell a story. By using straws, paper, beads, and other materials, children can create something,  examining,  exploring, sorting, and arranging the materials. This taps into the STEM/STEAM mindset. By incorporating this type of play, we are allowing them to problem solve, connect, deepen their understanding, an replicate their learning while keeping math, science, and engineering in the classroom.

Games with Rules

Games with rules helps children build important social skills such as cooperation. Think of your students playing hide and seek. Now think of them playing hide and seek, where the seeker isn’t covering their eyes. What would happen? For certain type of play, there are rules that need to be followed in order for the game to work. By allowing for this type of play, they are learning to  communicate   and develop healthy competition. They are understanding what it means to win and how it feels to lose. This is an essential part of building empathy. This type of play also helps them to develop their growth mindset by teaching them to learn and grow in a risk free environment for failure.

Rough-and-Tumble Play

Rough-and-tumble play is often known as play fighting or horseplay. We most commonly see this type of play on the playground. We see it in the form of running and chasing each other, playing tag, wrestling, and having sword fights. We often discourage this type of play because we often think that they will take it to far. This type of play is often controversial, but it is yet very critical to the development of children. Roughhousing is necessary to help social and  cognitive   development as well as physical development. According to Stuart Brown (2010), a “lack of experience with rough-and-tumble play hampers the normal give-and-take necessary for social mastery, and has been linked to poor control of violent impulses later in life” (89). When children engage in play fighting, they learn what it means to take it too far and build the rationale that their friends won’t want to play with them anymore. We do have to monitor this as teachers to help them determine when they have taken it too far at times.

Stages of Play

When children are playing, there are different stages in which children fall into based on their development of play. There are six stages of play:
-Unoccupied Behavior: Children will randomly observe anything that catches their interest. If nothing catches their interest, they will often fidget, spin in circles, or bang hands of table. This is the most immature form of play.
-Onlooker Behavior: This child chooses to observe others at play and will often ask them questions about their play but doesn’t play herself.
-Solitary Play: This child chooses to play alone. The child might play near another group, but will not join them.
-Parallel Play: This child will choose to play with the same materials alongside another child, but will create or build their own thing.
-Associative Play: Children who choose to play together in a group using the same materials or even play the same activity. For example, children may be playing with the blocks, but each one if building their own building to make a city.
-Cooperative Play: Children plan how they will play. They discuss and  negotiate   their roles. This is the most mature form of play.

3 Take Aways
1.    Each form of play has its benefits.
2.   During play, children are learning to create, innovate, explore, and develop.
3.   Rough-and-tumble play shouldn’t be discouraged and it is essential for them to build the rationale of “taking things too far”.
What are your 3 take aways?

Don’t forget to join me on my  book study on play by  reading    Purposeful Play.  Find it  HERE.