Sorry, this post is a little late. I am currently on vacation in the mountains in Tennessee and our internet is spotty. We’ll be moving on from here tomorrow, so I will be on track. Any who, I can’t express how excited I am about this book study. I can’t wait to get into it more and hear all of your thoughts.
Play Isn’t A Luxury. It’s A Necessity.
This chapter starts off in a kindergarten classroom where there are children playing in different areas. There are children playing with Magna Tiles building, others playing in the kitchen area, and others making a haunted house with blocks. The teacher is observing her students playing together. Two girls in the kitchen area were having an argument over who would play mommy, since both children wanted to be mommy and another student stated that they both could be mommies. After observing for some time, the teacher determined that this was a teachable moment and that she needed to discuss the differences in families and what families are.
Why Choose Play? Answers to Common Questions About the Role of Play
We Follow the Common Core State Standards. How Does Play Fit with Meeting the Many Standards?
The Standards are our endpoint. They are what we need to accomplish with our students by the end of the year. How we choose to get there is not dictated. There is no set map. The authors state that play allows for multiple opportunities and modes to reach the various standards. For instance, a standard in Speaking and Listening states that children need to follow agreed-upon rules for conversations. By implementing play into our classrooms, students have the opportunity to engage in discussions with peers and develop problem solving skills while playing. This can be demonstrated by their communication in building structures with blocks and even cooking in the kitchen. Another standard that can be integrated is the standard for reading fiction that states that a student should retell texts with key details. Children often during play will re-enact their favorite stories or even stories that were just read.
How Can There Be Time for Play When There Is Such an Emphasis on Academic Rigor?
First off, the authors define what academic rigor means. According to Barbara Blackburn, author of Rigor Is Not a Four-Letter Word, “Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each students is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels” (2013, 13). The authors believe that play is one type of environment where children can be rigorous in their learning. Play is a natural environment for children which allows them to feel free to take risks. They will often use their imagination to explore their creativity and become flexible thinkers and build their communication skills.
But What About My Students Who Need Extra Support? Wouldn’t Their Time Be Better Spent Engaged in Small-Group Instruction?
In this section the authors discuss the importance of small group instruction. Yes, small group instruction is important, however, play should not be replaced by it. Some students who have difficulty in certain areas can benefit from play because it gives them access to content and higher level thinking in a variety of modes. Play gives them opportunities to express their thinking through multiple sign systems. Sign systems are the different ways of communication and can be done through art, music, drama, and language. (Short, Harste, and Burke, 1996). Children can also engage in choice time, which is another type of play. This gives them the opportunity to build with blocks, paint, and dramatic play. Choice time allows students to tap into their own strengths and gives them access to learning at higher levels.
How Much Time In the Day Do Children Really Need to Play? Can’t Children Just Play When They Are Finished with Their Work?
In the beginning, we often struggle to develop our students’ stamina in reading and writing. However, when our same students are playing either during recess or choice time we can often see the stamina last for a longer amount of time. With this, we need to look at play from a different point of view. Play is the work of children. While playing, our students are developing ideas, creating, discovering, taking on and assigning roles, collaborating, developing and negotiating rules, and being active listeners with each other. If play is there work, then how can we incorporate it across the curriculum.
After reading this chapter, it has gotten my brain into motion on how play is beneficial to all learners.
3 Take Aways
1. Students need play everyday to build on their strengths and develop key communication and social skills.
2. Play is natural for them.
3. Play can be incorporated into daily lessons to achieve goals.
What are your thoughts about this Chapter? My mind is in motion on how to put play back into my classroom. I can’t wait to share with you all and get your ideas.
Don’t forget to join me on my book study on play by reading Purposeful Play. Find it HERE.