Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable. -Carl Jung
Play is an essential part of Early Childhood Education. It stimulates cognitive, motor, and social skills. Children are playful by nature and interact with their environment through play. It reduces stress and promotes well-being. Even now, in this time of high expectations and educational rigor, we still play. Our class has learning centers for literacy, math, science, art, blocks, reading, Legos, housekeeping and iPads. The children spend time in each of the centers every day. The structure of our day lends itself to creativity and self-directed learning; yet, it is still structured and the learning environment is carefully planned. If you ask the children what they did all day, they will say, “I played.”
In the mornings, we have Reading Workshop, guided reading and literacy center rotations. After lunch and recess, we have a whole group time where we have our shared reading, our read aloud and our word-work. We also have discussion on whatever thematic unit we are on before going into Writing Workshop and more center rotations. Throughout the day, students are rotating in and out of small group instruction and center time. The iPads serve as a tool in our classroom to facilitate differentiation of instruction. Even as Parker Jane and Dontay played in the housekeeping center (see picture above), they decided they needed to make a grocery list on their iPads. They collaborated together to create a list in the Notes app. I didn’t have to suggest that…they came up with the idea and moved to a table with an iPad to create a list of about 8 or so items, then they pretended to go shopping. One read the grocery list, while the other shopped. As they are creating their own learning, they are problem solving, analyzing and synthesizing new information.
Play is all about exploring possibilities. In our world today, exploring possibilities is a valuable skill.
Our classroom is a busy hub all day as students collaborate, learn, share, explore, inquire, and yes…play.
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