To begin our day every morning, Early Stage One have 20 minutes of purposeful play. I have previously written blogs on play and the impact it has on students learning although as term 2 comes to an end I stop to reflect on all the great things that have happened in the classroom and things that could be done even better.
During the 20 minutes of play, students have a large variety of toys to choose from although it is extremely interesting to see the various interest across the cohort. There are some students that LOVE the dramatic play areas and others that love the lego/duplo. The one interest which seems to have emerged as the term went on was something as simple as writing on the ‘whiteboard’ tables. To begin with I was shocked that students were even doing this during their ‘play’ time as it can be difficult to motivate students to write during ‘writing’ time especially the reluctant writers.
We talk about how important play is and how beneficial it is for students development but also how it promotes communication, collaboration, creativity and exploration. The question is why do we stop after the 20 minutes every morning and continue on with the rest of our daily timetable?
There have been many discussions with my team on how we can do this better and what it could look like in ES1. We quickly came to realise that play fits in with many KLA areas and can be incorporated in various ways.
During literacy groups, students can often lose interest very quickly and become unsettled and off task. We decided to try creating relevant experiences for students where they would have the opportunity to learn through ‘play’ during literacy time.
After trialling 4 different play experiences incorporated into the literacy block, I can definitely say how much of an improvement the students have made and the improved effort they are now applying to their learning. Students in the class who are reluctant writers are engaged in the experience and are enthusiastic about their learning whilst the more capable thinkers are beginning to independently extend themselves.
Below are 4 examples of play experiences that have been incorporated in the last few weeks of term 2.
Duplo Animal enclosure
- Students chose an animal of their choice and given a 5-minute timer to create an enclosure. Students share their thoughts and ideas with their group. Once the timer has finished, students given a clip board and paper to write about their creation.
- Students take on different roles as part of a restaurant dramatic play experience. Students have been creating their own menus, order lists, pay checks etc
- Students create their own patient forms to be kept on file at the doctors! They use the environmental print to support their learning.
- Students take on different roles to then act out a Doctors surgery (see my blog on … for more information on this)
- This play area links to our science unit ‘weather in our world’ and has been a great tool to support the learning in both literacy and science.
- Students use the environmental print to support them in creating their own weather report. Students then take on different roles acting out a ‘weather report’. Students have been working on their oral language skills and have been recording themselves report on the different seasons and the change in weather conditions. They have also been reporting on the types of clothing that needs to be worn.
This is only the beginning of something very exciting and I am really looking forward to incorporating more play in other areas of our day and sharing the journey with you all!