Why Begin The School Day With Inquiry and Play?

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” -Fred Rogers

Setting the tone for the school day in a play based way prepares students for a day of learning. Through play students develop self regulation, deepen social competence, increase oral language and vocabulary skills, explore, discover, create, negotiate, problem solve and much much more!

I love starting the school day with “Ready To Go” tasks. These tasks can simply be manipulatives on a table for free exploration or prepared task cards with the materials already gathered. No matter the configuration, the purpose is to provide play-based activities that students can immediately go to as they enter a classroom. Starting the day in such a way provides students with structure and routine. It also gives them the immediate feeling: “I am safe at school.”

Starting the day in this play-based way is a great way to deal with staggered entrance of students, teacher must-dos (such as attendance and lunch count) and helps decrease the anxiety levels of both students and teacher with the transition of home to school.


If you have table assignments, it is pretty easy to simply take pictures of areas around your classroom and lay a photo on the table so students know to go directly to that area, or simply sit the task activity on their table so they can start working immediately as they enter.

If students aren’t assigned a space, you can simply make a chart, as the one below, to get your kids going! This chart, if made with a lot of velcro, is very flexible to change student groupings and activities that meet their needs.


Find out more about great ways to start the school year off here by listening to our Podcasts. Here are a few with a back-to-school theme…

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