No Series: The Work of Play

The Work of Play

Lesson Objective: Give students the opportunity to learn through play
Pre-K-1 / All Subjects / Play


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How can not allowing students to play affect their development?
  2. What do students learn during "work time?"
  3. How does play enhance students' language skills?


  • Private message to Kathy Eacrett

Children need play.  Engaging with others and developing problem solving helps them to be able to problem solve in other areas too.  They are able to use their words and thoughts to develop ideas and confidence.  This is important in everyday life as they grow.

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  • Private message to ELIZABETH CLEMENT

Children need play. It not only helps them in school but in the real world. It helps them learn to disagree but still get along. It helps with team work as well. 

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  • Private message to Mary Salmon

Allowing children to play enhance their languagel, cognitive, and fine and motor skills.  By not allowing them to learn through play is keeping them and taking away many opportunities to enhance these skills.  They learn through work time how to work with others and use communication and teamwork to accomplish a task.  They also learn and enhance their vocabulary by talking to others and use their words to express and share their ideas.  Great video to watch on how children can be very creative.  

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  • Private message to Michael Stires

Being able to set time aside to allow students to be themselves, be creative, and make their own decisions on how they will utilize their time is especially important for growth. Creating that environment for the students to communicate with others and allow each other to learn from one another. Have that time allows teachers to observe students and see who they really are among their peers. Being able to have the work of play with projects sparks developing skills to be expressed through their creativity and be able to put students in a setting where they will be able to develop problem solving skills. Growing up I was able to understand the concepts taught whenever I was able to be hands on with the task presented.

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  • Private message to Francis Lucia

The Work of Play----My Algebra 1 & 2 students get to play everyday.....It's the work that is always most difficult to receive as a product unless graded as a formative or summative.-----FLUCIA

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  • The Work of Play Transcript

    Speaker 1: Play is work for children. It is their creativity, it is their language, and

    The Work of Play Transcript

    Speaker 1: Play is work for children. It is their creativity, it is their language, and when you walk into a classroom where there's no play, then the invention that's theirs is not present as well.

    Speaker 2: There's lots of research that shows that depriving children of play is really stunting their development, so the question is not, "Aren't you taking away from learning by letting them play?" I think the question is, "Aren't you preventing their development by not allowing them to play?" You learn so much of how to navigate life, and without navigating life you can't navigate school.

    Speaker 3: If you're ready for work time, pick at least two choices. It's time to look at our work time chart and think about what area do we want to work in today, but we're going to pick more than one choice. Where do you want to work today?

    Student: I want to work in writing.

    Speaker 2: Kids have choice about what to read and choice about what to write, but the choice about what materials to use, where to work. "Gee, I have work time tomorrow, let's see, what am I going to do?"

    Speaker 3: Painting will be at table two, please get your table ready.

    Speaker 2: "I remember there was blocks and there was water play, and let me think, what would be my first choice? What would be my second choice?" This is planning for life.

    Speaker 3: I think this is going to be an interesting lesson in space, don't you?

    Speaker 1: Work time is materials exploration where children can use materials thoughtfully and bring their own ideas, they make their own choices, it's open-ended.

    Speaker 4: From the very beginning where we're asking children to make decisions about where they want to work, they're really thinking about a place where they're going to be engaged, which right away once a child is engaged naturally tons of language will flow from that.

    Student: You never hold a clapboard before?

    Student: I've held it a thousand times.

    Student: Okay, then you can't drop it, you have to catch it.

    Speaker 5: Sanai and Amanda sit next to him, because if he gets nervous he needs one of you to support him.

    Student: Can you let go of the vehicle for just one minute? How much?

    Student: Wait, actually one more, just one more game.

    Speaker 6: Work time gives them the opportunity in the school every day where they can have these conversation with their peers and really develop language, this is what they're going to be doing for the rest of their lives.

    Student: The Great White shark.

    Student: [inaudible 00:02:51]?

    Student: Yes.

    Student: Okay, it's funny, right?

    Student: Yeah.

    Speaker 1: Maybe a lesson that all of us can learn is learning that when we disagree with someone, we still have to be respectful and kind. It goes a lot further than saying, "You have to share."

    Student: Okay, back to work.

    Speaker 1: What's happening? Is it hard for you all to fit in the space?

    Anya: Yeah, because there's like people bumping around and there's ...

    Speaker 1: Anya, you might want to think about how there can be less people inside and how everybody gets a turn inside.

    Anya: Should be like outside and watching.

    Speaker 1: So, Anya's saying that if you're a presenter with this paper, then maybe you should be outside the structure and watch the show. How do you feel about that? You have five minutes to get this resolved if you want to do this today, or you have tomorrow to work on it too.

    That is one of the unique things about work time, the messy is celebrated. They have an idea, the children in the block area, that they've been trying to execute. They had a story in their mind that was harder to communicate.

    Student: Presenting-,

    Student: The show.

    Student: The show of [inaudible 00:04:05].

    Speaker 1: And they're not done, and it's not mine to solve for them.

    Let's take a time out, let's give you some feedback. You have your props, you have your setting, what you need is a script. Do you know what a script is?

    Anya: Yeah, it's like the words, what to say when you practice.

    Speaker 1: So you know what? You've got one more day to write a script and perform a play, yeah?

    Anya: Okay.

    Speaker 3: Even though we don't have a whole lot of pieces, the kids build really elaborate structures.

    Student: Maybe they could be like this.

    Speaker 3: And through that we're talking a lot about geometry, we're talking a lot about balance.

    Student: Oh my gosh.

    Speaker 3: They describe the shapes and that's geometry and math happening indirectly through their play. As adults we sort of develop into perfectionists in our own way, and children have this sense of not looking at the end product but just going with the flow. That is a really big piece to me that I would want them to walk away with.

    Student: Cookie, cookie! There's my cookie.

    Speaker 3: They started either a bakery or a restaurant and they took a class list, which we always have access to in the paper tray, so you could decide if you wanted sprinkles and they start to make tallies.

    Student: Sprinkled cookies or not?

    Student: No sprinkles.

    Speaker 3: So again math is happening in there, they're doing a lot of counting, figuring out who's going to make how many of this type and who's making the other. There's a lot of teamwork that goes into it.

    Student: This one.

    Speaker 4: There's many tools there for them to explore and bring to the water table. Tyler was really grappling with and thinking about sinking, and he didn't quite have the language for sink yet, and he first thought of it about pouring water onto it and he used the word power.

    Tyler: So much power.

    Speaker 4: Where does it get the power from?

    Tyler: From the water.

    Speaker 4: Valentino was exploring with different cups and then together the two of them engaged in different talks about what was happening.

    Student: We could always make more with this.

    Speaker 4: I feel very committed to having young people feel an excitement of what learning is and what work is.

    Student: He's going to get a cook, and no, no guy, you're too fast.

    Speaker 3: I would hope that every child at this age could feel so brave to try new things and to not be afraid to fail, that they could carry that on with them throughout their lives.

    Speaker 4: And that opportunity to be in a school and be able to use your mind to create, and then add to that the possibility to work with a friend or two friends and listen to each other and create together, is just amazing. We don't have much of that in life and if you start out in the early grades, imagine the possibilities.

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