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Noticing Learning Opportunities During Play

Friday, November 8, 2013

The more I explore play based learning, the more I see how the other parts of the curriculum can be covered during their play...not to mention the practice they get in developing the 21st Century Skills they need to be successful in life such as being a team player, problem solving, conflict resolution, collaboration, decision making, communication, and responsibility.  It makes me realize that when play is taken away, the opportunities to truly practice those life-long learning skills in real situations is also taken away!  Below I have many examples of how learning takes place during play!

They create plans during exploration time. They have been learning that to be successful, you need a plan, focus and persistence.  They are working toward creating plans that consist of a picture representation of what they will create, labels, lists of materials needed and directions to follow.  We have just started creating plans this week and I think they are off to a good start. Here are a few examples of their plans. 

They can also work together as a team on a plan. One child draws the plan as they discuss it. Another creates a list of materials needed. Another can write the directions. Below is a picture representation that a team of three worked on after a Lock Down Drill to create a castle using 3-D shapes.  They showed me after it was finished how it worked. They rolled a heavy wooden sphere off of the turret. It fell on an intruder that was trying to break in.  They collaborated and problem soved until it worked!  It worked brilliantly!

Here is a list of materials and a list of responsibilities one team created when planning to build a zoo.

I was amazed at how organized they were! They started out by collecting materials, including paper for the sky and a bright orange gourd to use as a sun.  They created trees, play areas for the animals using rocks, ramps for them to slide down...it is still a work in progress!  Below, you can see them collecting materials in one place and creating the trees for their zoo.

This picture shows them adding the sky and the sun. 

 I will add a picture of their zoo to this post after they finish it. 

They also used writing to show me they are loyal to my favorite college football team, the Michigan State Spartans!

I am amazed at how much writing and learning experiences happen during during play!  Here are some more examples of things that have been going on as we played!

We let our praying mantis go!  They loved how he blended in with his surroundings! A great example of camouflage that caused a great discussion as they observed it.


Our playground was taken over by thousands of ladybugs! They were all over our play equipment and us! When we came back inside I noticed a bunch of the kids had tightly closed fists so I brought out our insect viewer and had them put them in so we could observe them. 

I set them up with materials to help them explore them further if they choose. 

One small group opened up a book fair like the one our school had a few weeks ago!

Some researched things on their own that they were interested in.

One group opened up a restaurant. 

Some relaxed with a good book. 

Some documented what they noticed about pumpkins. 

They worked those fine motor skills creating sculptures with clay. I love the mermaid one friend created!

Some chose to practice Numeracy skills.  

I am having so much fun observing and taking part in the things that they are doing!  I love seeing their brains at work while they play and explore!  Our pumpkin exploration is still in progress! I will write about how our investigation is going next week!


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