Saturday, March 18, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 18: Some Thoughts on Play.

Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life.  Join us!


A couple of summers ago I read this book.  Have you read it?  I'll wait...go ahead.

When I started a new position around the same time, the idea of 'Purposeful play' really resonated with me.  I was in a situation where I could structure a framework that allowed for play throughout the day.

And then, at least 3 weeks ago, my Godmother asked in an email, "How is that emphasis working for you this year?"  (Side bar:  My Godmother lives in Michigan.  She is a retired 2nd grade teacher, working as a volunteer librarian in a school setting.  She knows public education and Lutheran education-where I am now.  I figure she is the coolest lady on the planet...)

After considering this question, I had several things I was thinking about.  I'll address a few in this post.

Maker Space:

Play naturally occurs here.  Yes, the idea of creating, collaborating and engineering is at the forefront.  However, first graders will create an opportunity for play.  As an example, 2 students created some origami in Maker Space a few weeks ago.  From that, there was an impromptu puppet show.  It really showed itself as dramatic play.  From that, there was the idea that they could take their show on the road!  From that, there were signs inviting people to see their show.  (They weren't pleased with me when I did say their stage couldn't completely block our doorway.  Shoot!)

For one of the students involved, this opportunity offered some time to work on negotiation skills in play.  For the other student, it offered the opportunity to work on some flexibility in thinking when playing with others.  This organic environment allowed for me to coach and model these skills in a setting that allowed for the students to grow and improve with a positive mindset.

Free Play-Storytelling-Writing:

I participated in the Global Day of Play on February 1st.  The premise?  You simply let the kids play.  And they did.  This day, the class as a whole only wanted to participate in dramatic and fantasy play.


The next day, with a little encouragement, one student wrote out the story that they played the previous day.
As I continued to consider this, the idea of play in Writer's Workshop kept swirling in my head.  As I consider next year, I'm outlining and considering how to incorporate puppetry and storytelling in my Writer's Workshop.

Math Choice-Literacy Block:

At first, I didn't think there was play here.  Only choice-because I was directing more of what they could be engaged in.  However, upon further reflection, I was noticing that there is play!  Hooray!

In these instances, the kids are engaged in manipulative play and play with rules.  (Games)

What am I trying this week?
I'm thinking about Social Studies.   We are beginning a unit on the Marketplace-basic economic principles.  I'm planning on some dramatic play as an experience before we talk about how money moves through an economy.  We'll set up shop.  Come buy your goods from us!

What's my role as a teacher?

Observation.  Observation.  Observation.  You have to get right next to the play and watch.  Listen.  And then it's a balancing act.  When are you quiet?  When do you jump in and guide?  It' can't work if you are watching from afar.   You can also connect your play and learning to standards very easily.  That is another post for another day...

Who is using play?  What is next?



  1. It all sounds good to me, Kendra. One memory I have that connects to your final one is the constant play I did in pretending to have a grocery store. I would drag out all the goods in our pantry, line them up on a shelf (I used a table leaf and two chairs) and opened up! My grandfather had his own store so gave me an order pad (what a gift!) & it was such fun! My family came to buy, I practiced writing and adding, etc. as you might imagine. I made signs that some goods were on sale! There is much to learn when play happens!

  2. I love focusing on learning as PLAY! I really want to look more into Maker Space. I've heard so much about it. Kids certainly need more play in their lives. We seem to be driving them so hard. It's not good for their brains! It's wonderful that you're making it a priority.

  3. I am thinking now about how to incorporate this with my pre-teen kids and my middle school students. Creativity is a form of play, I think. When my kids were a bit younger, they loved the kind of "real life" play that Linda B describes above--having forms to fill out for the "vet clinic," putting prices on random household objects and having a "garage sale," etc.

  4. The whole play thing has been underrated at all ages! Glad to see you "playing" around with it!

  5. I feel like you and I need a weekend to talk! :) You free??? :)

  6. Play is so powerful for our students as it helps integrates concepts in a meaningful way. Kudos to you for being mindful on how to incorporate it throughout your teaching.

  7. Wouldn't it be fun to get together and chat bout this book?!

  8. *about

    Looking forward to reading more of your slices. xo