“But When Do We Get To Play Ms. Purdin?”
This is a serious question I get asked most often by my students during the first part of our year together. As I spoke about at Open House in September, play is a child’s work. That is how they figure out the world around them. However, I must balance this with what is being asked of our students in a 21st century American classroom. I am prompted to write about this topic after reading this article in the Atlantic this week about American and Finnish Kindergartens. It helps that Ms. Purdin likes to play too, and I try my best with each lesson and activity to marry the ideas of academics and play together.
Last weekend, I attended Ed Camp Pentucket, which if you are unfamiliar with the Ed Camp concept, you can find more about it here: www.edcamp.org. Ed Camps are basically a place where educators can “play” with other educators, learn about things they are interested in and bring back ideas to their classroom. Last weekend, I attended a session called, “Teachers as Actors” and we talked for an hour about how we do this in our classrooms – through songs, stories and playfulness.
This week we had many examples of academic play. Our field trip was a wonderful experience for all the children. Think about all the skills they practiced: listening to directions, number sense (counting their apples), five senses (science), independence (self-help skills), and social skills. Our bus driver was a hoot, and she even used “play” when she told everyone to fasten their imaginary seatbelts to stay seated on the bus. She also told them about Louie the Llama, who we visited on the farm.
When I introduced a new math game this week, I didn’t call it “Match Up” as our math text said. I told the children how my favorite game when I was little was “Memory,” and today, I was going to teach them how to play this really fun game. We had an odd number, so a child had to pair up with me. After we played a few rounds he said, “I can tell this was your favorite game because you are good at it!”
Learning and play is all in how you approach it. We learned a sight word this week “the” but through poetry. We learned to speed up our clean up time through beating the clock. We engaged in science through art and retelling. We had our first phonics lesson taught by a puppet. I am always looking for new ways to enjoy what I do, in hopes my students will too.
Have a great LONG weekend “playing!”