Saturday, September 26, 2015

Keeping "Play" in Your Kindergarten Day + FREEBIES

Justifying the Importance of Play:

In these times of "Kindergarten Rigor" and test score mania, how do you justify the importance of "play" in your kindergarten classroom?
Kids love to play, so why not play with sight word meatballs?

Well, I was basically able to keep my “play based” kindergarten by providing excellent test scores at each of the trimester reporting periods. Achieving high test scores doesn't mean that you can't provide lots of opportunities for play. I understand the importance of accountability and measurable means to report student grown and drive my instruction and intervention, but I refused to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Where "play" fits in my day:

My kindergarten day consisted of engaging whole group lessons, meaningful independent work (required of all students), and differentiated small group guided reading and math instruction.  CLICK HERE so see a post about my typical day. 
From attendance check-in to just playing with numbers, these centers are just plain FUN!Click the image to see a post on how you can build your own Rekenrek. 
You can grab the FREE NUMBER CARDS by clicking HERE.

During the independent work time, I pulled my homogeneous small groups for specific skill work. If your independent work was done (and quickly checked by an adult, meaning me or a parent volunteer) and you weren’t meeting with me in a small group, you could use your time to choose ANY center and play.
Kids can "play" with letters and learn their names while having fun.

Why this formula is win-win for teachers, admins, & kids:

So basically, admins see kids engaged in powerful small group lessons, meaningful independent work, and educational play activities.  You can see great ways to keep "play" in your day by CLICKING HERE for part 1. Then, CLICK HERE for part 2. 
One more additional benefit: Happy Kids who are excited to learn!

Creating Centers That Foster Play:

So, how did I create play centers that were also educational? I started by looking at the standards I needed students to master. There are some samples of great centers throughout THIS BLOGPOST. CLICK HERE to see it.
The power of print should be everywhere in your classroom. 

I literally wrote the sight words on the train tracks with a Sharpy marker. Students were often heard saying, "Give me the piece that says like," as they were building their train track. 

I also labeled EVERYTHING! From the science center to the home center. This also provided opportunities for sorting as students sorted the forks and spoons or the fruits and vegetables according to the labels.
These "detectives" are exploring at the Science Center. No directions included, just explore & discover! 
I incorporated social studies and science in our centers. I set up outfits representing our community helpers in our home center and lots of science realia in our "Discovery Center" which also included math tools like rulers and balance scales.

And then there were the stores! My students loved my monthly stores were students could pretend to buy items with plastic coins. They were adding, subtracting, and problem solving as they had fun. 
We also created a coffee shop, a candy store, and a burger stand. The kids created the menus. 

They loved wearing the clerk aprons and making the parts for the stores. For our See's Candy Shop, they decided that the cube shaped candies were 1 cent while the cylinders were 2 cents. Then, they filled the empty heart shaped boxes with pretend candies (which our upper grade buddy class made with my free templates) and they added to come up with a total price for the box of candy. See's is happy to give you paper candy cups and little bags too. There is just so much you can learn from shopping!  You can grab the FREE candy template by CLICKING HERE.

Why I Wrote This Post:

I received an email from a teacher asking how I was able to justify "play" and when I put the question out to my FaceBook followers, I was directed to this article. CLICK HERE to see that article too.

I hope that this post helps you to bring "play" back into your day and justify its importance to your administrators. 

I'll be presenting on this topic at: 

Brea, CA:  Click Here  and CLICK HERE to see the brochure. 
Norman, Oklahoma:  Click Here and again Here
Austin Texas: Click Here and 
Pasadena, CA:  Click Here

And you might like:

Click on the image.
My students loved creating these at a craft center and wearing them home:


Post a Comment