When I was a little girl, one of my favorite past-times was to get any kitchen utensils my mother would let me take, and head out to find the nearest mud puddle to become my latest restaurant. I would spend hours “cooking” up mud creations. Perhaps that is why the sensory table is a must in my classroom. The thought of kids touching, moving, squishing, rubbing, and manipulating raw materials is important to me. I know first hand the learning that is going on at that moment.
It is through play that young children make sense of the world in which they live — a time to learn, discover, and to be — spontaneous; a time to be active participants in their own learning.
In a school and/or homeschool settings, the benefits of play needs to be recognized before grabbing for that convenient worksheet. According to Professor Doris Fromberg,
We need to consider that young children learn in quite different ways [than adults]. They learn by comparing physical experiences, by interactions with other people and their own feelings. And they learn an enormous amount through their imagination.... Play is what pulls together the logical and creative parts of the brain.
In an academic setting, we need to take advantage of the natural way children learn and grow, and include play in our day! The easiest way to begin adding play into your day, is to bring in a sensory table, assemble a dramatic play station, and find a corner for a block center. These center areas are perfect to foster natural child play. In these areas, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.” (Fred Rogers). Another easy way to incorporate play into your day is by building a science center. Build it, and they will learn! Children love to explore, touch, discover, smell, and inquire at this center. Their natural curiosity and excitement for learning is about all you need to add as curriculum.
You might enjoy our podcasts on teaching using child’s play in mind. Here are a couple to get you started.
Many of our products are based on teaching through play.. We love to get play in our day!