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Learning Science Concepts through Play
I have been thinking a lot about young children and how curious these children are. They are full of questions..some can be investigated, some can not. These children need to be involved in experiences. That is where the questions begin. I am reminded of a quote "Play is children's work."
I am going to attach an article that certainly might provoke some wondering for teachers of young children.
Why_Playful_Learning_Is_The_Key_To.docx (0.16 Mb)
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This is a very interesting concept to me. I just recently learned that learning through play is actually educational as well as beneficial for children.
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Thanks for sharing this link. It fits perfectly into a course I am teaching.
Your quote about "Play is children's work" led me to check out the quote on Google which led me to a great video with that title on YouTube. Here is the link...
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Thank you for sharing this link! This is a very interesting concept to me as well and adding science to their play is something worth looking into
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Thank you for sharing this, Kathy!
I have always thought that play is SO essential for children, and stifling that innate curiosity can inhibit students from becoming lifelong learners. With collaboration and fine motor skills, children are able to learn the skills that allow them to become lifelong learners and aid in their success of different walks of life. This article has definitely sparked a thought about young children and play, and I hope to incorporate this more in my classroom.
Do you teach young children? If so, how do you incorporate play into different subjects?
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Thank you for sharing this article. I found it very informative and agree wholeheartedly with the author that play should not be perceived as a luxury. I also agree that in this age, when we are most in need of the creativity of our youth, limiting their play to work in more drill for exams and standardized tests is hardly reasonable.
As a preservice teacher, I recently completed drafting a lesson plan based on the 5E model and what struck me was the emphasis of the model on direct inquiry, mirroring the 'hands-on, minds-on' approach advocated by the article.
I have also observed the truth of this in my mentor teacher's classroom. For example, one of the 3rd grade enrichment stations is Legos. Although it might seem odd to enrich students with experiences that involve playing with blocks, I find myself constantly surprised by the inventive and creative projects students complete. It has led me to realize that allowing students more time to freely play and discover will allow them to discover many educational concepts on their own and build upon their knowledge of existing concepts. With the recent emphasis on STEM, there are so many ideas of how to incorporate activities and play into the curriculum to encourage students to learn and think more critically and creatively. One of these many resources is http://www.fundamentallychildren.com/play-ideas/by-subject/science/
although countless more exist.
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Thank you so much for sharing this article. I find this to be very true in many aspects. The children in my second grade class that I am student teaching in, have a difficult time staying still for long periods of time. I really do think that play would be beneficial to not only them but also me as a teacher because they are learning without even realizing it if they get to play. I hear moans and groans all the time when it is time to do a subject thy dislike and I think that would change if they were exposed to a new way of teaching it. I really hope when I start my teaching career, I can incorporate some play without having my hands tied down with tons of tests and non-memorable experiences for these children.
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Hi Kathy! I love the article you attached! I completely agree with what they were saying, learning is “hands on, minds on!” I agree because that’s how I learn myself! I’m currently a preservice teacher at the University of Northern Iowa! This week we have been talking about whether or not we feel play is essential for students, we all agree that it is! We’ve also been reading other articles about how play is essential. (I have attached an article I found on my own about play.) I felt the article really hit it home when it stated that play is a necessity break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development! Children are more creative and understand the concept being taught, when they are allowed to explore and “do it” themselves.
When I think back to my days in elementary school I never realize how much my Kindergarten classroom was set up to maximize play. I didn’t realize this, about my own Kindergarten room, until we got to visit a classroom, on the UNI campus, that was set up like an actual and ideal classroom. In Kindergarten we had a water/sand table, blocks, kitchen you can actually cook in, and a worm habitat. I wish every child had that opportunity that I had, so it’s my goal, as a preservice teacher, to learn as much as I can about how to incorporate play into teaching.
The more I read, the more experiences I have, and the more conversations I have, really help and give me ideas on how to be the best teacher I can be! In the article, I attached, it says “Being able to tie the word scientist to a particular person may also help children understand the work of scientists. Invite a scientist into the classroom for a “play date.”” I had never thought of that idea before! I thought that was really interesting advice and wanted to share that with you and others reading this!
The Early Years: Inquiry at Play (Journal Article)
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Thank you for sharing this link it was a great read. Personally I believe children need to have fun and what a better way to have fun and learn at the same time. Sometimes we as adults forget that children are full of energy and sometimes is hard for them to stay focus for long periods of time, however, when hands on activities are involved, children stay busy engage and continue to learn while they also have fun.
Having fun games for children to learn more about science will also get them interested in the subject because they will think of it as fun instead of hard and boring.
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I'm studying to become an early childhood educator, so I thought your post was very interesting. I find it odd that with various amounts of studies/evidence available some people think that allowing children to play in a school setting is not beneficial. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, "[size=3][font="Times New Roman",serif][color=#ffffff][size=3][font="Times New Roman",serif][color=#000000]is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.” I like that there are high impact innovators who are working to bringing back play in a great way. Like the article mentions, the learning process should inspire children and "allow for constructive and productive disobedience." Hopefully by the time I graduate more schools support and implement this idea.
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Thank you, Kathleen. I know that if we do not tap into their innate curiosity, as they grow, we will cause them to lose interest in science. About 6 years ago, I was working with a group of 2nd graders on the concept of area. We had some wooden blocks and different geometric mats they were to fill in with the blocks. About 90% of the class could not place the blocks next to each other so that they touched to have the most blocks possible fill the shapes. As I walked around and asked the groups questions, it dawned on me that they had no experience playing with blocks! I changed gears and we put away the shape mats, got on the floor and just built whatever they wanted. As they built they told me if they were building the school, a house, or whatever. I asked them how often they played with blocks. As you can guess, this was the first time for many! This experience taught me that I have to give children a chance to explore materials before I ask them to apply them and I should not assume they know how to manipulate those materials.
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This reply is for Keaton Despard. I love what you shared about your experience with kindergarten, playing, and inviting a scientist for a play date. I usually have my parents complete a short survey at the beginning of the year with information about their child. I also ask if they have a talent or skill they would like to share with the class if there were an opportunity. I have been fortunate to have parents each year that are engineers-chemical-mechanical-electrical etc., dentists, farmers, singers, and so on. When we were learning about sound, yes, we invited the mom who sings and the dad who played the accordion. The dentist came to help us dissect owl pellets and identify the bones. The chemical engineer came each Friday for 30 minutes right before lunch and would model some of the elements, and helped us identify which elements we come in contact with daily. He even gave us a huge Periodic Table to hang on the wall. If you don't have access to a specific career person or scientist, contact your local university and ask if they have students who would be interested in coming to visit your class. Ask the professor if they will give their students extra credit for participating.
Kathy! Thank you for sharing this idea and the article attached to it. I really enjoyed reading about "hands on, minds on" in the article. I think it is very important to get students using their hands and thinking more abstractly than just doing worksheets. I have experienced teachers on both ends of the spectrum and I always feel like I learn more and am more engaged when we do some type of hands on activities. I will strive to be an an engaging teacher like the article describes.
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Thank you for sharing the article. I essentially believe that these are children and the only way they will get engaged is through play, or amazing experiments. At the children center that I work play is an essential to the children and we allow them to be exposed of a balance that inside and outside play. Inside we have plays, we dance and have a lot of activities. Overall, I believe that as a future teacher I will incorporate many of the suggestion that are made at the NSTA resources, very helpful and informative. This was helpful as well as an a eye opener, because some teachers just rely on paper and pencil which makes students loose interest in many subjects and topics.
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Hi Kathleen! Thank you for sharing the link with us. Adult sometimes forget that children can’t just stop moving and be expected to learn what you are saying. Or where I’ve seen is when the teacher is teaching, the students are expected to sit still and quietly on the carpet. Plus all students are different and learn in different ways. I recently taught my 5E lesson plan, for my engage I had the students run to give me a notecard and for the explore students were able to feel different materials...the students were having fun and engage the entire time. I believe it’s important for students to be involved with as much “hands-on” and “movement” activity as possibly to help the child learn!
In my Science in the Elementary School 1 class, our professor has us moving with a hands-on activity the entire time for 2 hours and I have learned so much. Every Thursday I am always excited for the class, ready to go to school...and I’m a senior in college.
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For more on science for young children, see Peggy Ashbrook's column in the Science & Children journal and her Early Years blog.
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Writings about children's play often educate me on the value of observing play to understand children's thinking and problem-solving. See these webpages and attached files for more on play. The NAEYC's "Play, Policy and Practice Interest Forum" is another valuable resource.
Videatives Views blog--http://videatives.com/blog/2014/04/issue-184-a-one-year-old-child-finds-mutiple-bowls-irresistible/
Reclaiming Play: Helping Children Learn and Thrive in School--http://www.nancycarlssonpaige.org/articles10.html
A Conversation with Vivian Gussin Paley--http://www.naeyc.org/content/conversation-vivian-gussin-paley
Childrens-right-to-play-An-examination-of-the-importance-of-play-in-the-lives-of.pdf (2.17 Mb)
Imaginative_Play_During_Childhood--_Required_for_Reaching_Full_Potential_by_Kare.pdf (0.16 Mb)
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Those are some great resources!! I think that it is a great idea for kids to learn science through play.
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These are all great resources! I love the idea of play allowing children to thrive in school. I've worked with 2nd grade students who were struggling in the core subject areas such as math and reading but when I put a set of STEM ramps and blocks in front of them, they felt the freedom to try new things and to spend time creating. I watched as they stacked their blocks and set up ramps that no one else had thought to do yet, and when they failed, I watched as they used problem solving skills to modify their design. They got to be experts and they experienced the feeling of success when they got their marbles to roll down their ramps held by the block structures they created. It was the freedom of play that allowed them to expand their thinking and to try something new, and this led to a new kind of opportunity that allowed my students to succeed.
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Thank you, Peggy, for all those great resources. I plan to share them with my preservice teachers!
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At the preschool I work in the children are required to play for at least half of the program length. We try to make this playtime educational without the children knowing. We encourage the play by putting out math manipulatives (dinosaurs, teddy bears, and sea creatures in water), art, and science discovery center.
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The policy sounds like an awesome one! We need to create multiple opportunities for ALL our children to play. I was wondering ..do the children in the preschool go outside for a set period of time for free play? If yes, what does that look like?
Thanks for sharing.
I teach in a pre- k and our program is a learn through play program. While we do some traditional work, majority of our work is hands on like rolling letters out of play dough, making playdough for science, eating apples to graph and see what type is favored, carving pumpkins to group, sort and count seeds etc.... the children are able to play for 1.5 hrs throuogh out the day at centers and then we have 1.5 hrs of out side do what ever you want on the play ground time. We have park like toys out there as well as sand boxes with castle building equipment, play houses, play cars, doll houses and coordination toys. There is plenty of activities for the children to get their creative juices flowing and move their muscles.
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Thank you all for your ideas about learning science concepts through play. This reminds me of the Forest Kindergarten video trailer David Sobel showed at his NSTA conference presentation.
I must admit that I cringed watching young children using matches and knives but was interested to hear the parents reactions. Sadly I also thought of the deer tick epidemic we having in Maine right now and many parents are concerned about their children playing outside near fields and forested areas.
Here in midcoast Maine a Forest Kindergarten is forming. Any thoughts about Forest Kindergarten and learning through play experiences.
School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten (a film by Lisa Molomot and Rona Richter)
This documentary trailer emphasizes the rich lessons very young children may draw from experiential education in a forest setting.
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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I understand the need to play to learn but it can also be used with higher grades as well. I once gave my high school physics class a bunch of batteries, bulbs and wires and told them to just play to see what they could learn from their play. First of all, they said they were never were given these tools to play with. Secondly, as older students they were able to glean a great deal of information that was later explained by theory.
Isn't the same as the 5E method where exploration is just a fancier way to play and learn.
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I so agree with you. I think I will start this conversation in the elementaryforums because I certainly included play as part of my 5/6 science instruction.
thanks for bringing this to my attention.
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I completely agree with you! We should start learn through play young but don't abandon it once they get older. A classmate and I recently played with batteries, bulbs, wires, and other various objects, and through our playing we asked authentic questions that we genuinely mattered to us. If we allow older students to also learn through play, it becomes student inquiry driven. Students are more motivated because it their original questions are guiding them. They are able to be real scientist who have a question and will experiment with various methods to come to a conclusion.
Additionally, play to learn allows students to maintain their divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. Here is a link to a snippet of a video from Ken Robinson. In this video he explains what divergent thinking is and how students' ability to maintain their divergent thinking diminishes over the years.
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As a special education teacher I have to teach my students how to play. Whenever possible I incorporate play as part of the lesson plan, particularly at the onset of the lesson as I determine prior knowledge or work to build knowledge. Working with this population I wholeheartedly recommend the ability to incorporate play as part of an inclusion setting, sometimes that is the easiest (least anxiety ridden) way for my students to engage in an inclusion setting.
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What a wonderful way to include play in an inclusive setting. Play does help with those kinds of concerns about ability. Best, Arlene
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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I also teach children K-5 with special needs. I have found they typically can learn more playing 30 minutes of fun, curriculum-aligned games that they would during 100 hours of lecturing or reading!
All the best,
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I had the pleasure of co-teaching a week of camp with museum educator Sarah Erdman. I read her blog posts at Cabinet of Curiosities, including this one on play.
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Thank you for sharing this resource. I am hoping many educators do a close read of this blog and think about the ideas offered as they embark on this new year of learning.
I am sharing it in hopes the message gets out to many, many educators.
Play is the work of a child.
Here is another resource about the value of children's play, from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, in the form of memos from ECE to other stakeholders:
http://www.naeyc.org/yc/files/yc/file/201407/Play_Memos_YC0514.pdf" target="_blank">Defining and Advocating for Play
[i]Knowing that there are numerous definitions of play and its role in young children's
development and learning, NAEYC invited several early childhood educators to write
their own definitions. These pieces are published in the May 2014 issue of [i]Young
Children[/i], which focuses on play in the early childhood years. We hope these thoughts inspire you to consider how you might define the role of play in early childhood. [/i]
As a teacher in training, I always found, and believe in, play to be an integral part of learning for young children. When I foster play in the classroom I see young students who are engaged, motivated, and learning without even realizing that I am teaching them exactly what I want them to learn. This article mentions that play is children's work and I couldn't agree more. There are many concepts that can be taught through play as well as many motor functions that can be mastered. More over play helps get rid of some of the energy that youth seems to have infinitely. I have experienced teachers take recess away from children for discipline and half of the students didn't want to go out to recess anyway, for whatever reason...doesn't sound like much of a discipline if that is what the student wanted anyway. I think it is also important to note that when a child is playing, to not interrupt their play and let the children play the way they want/created. I see a teacher all too often approach a student and explain the "right" way they should be playing because they were not bouncing the ball, when the idea of play is to be creative and come up with your own rules of the game you just created.
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Thank you for the post and the great article. I am student teaching in 3rd grade, but being hands on is still crucial at this age too, so I am looking forward to creating some engaging hands on activities for my students. Can't wait to look through all the sites and articles everyone suggested!
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I really enjoyed the information covered. Play is children's work. Often as we age we stop playing and I always wonder why? Very interesting topic.
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Briana! I also enjoyed some of the resources that have been posted. I am a huge advocate for children to be hands on and have the option to learn through play! I am currently a perspective teacher at the University of Northern Iowa and I am in My Phase II Practicum for Special Education. I am placed in a Kindergarten room and from the school district that this school is in, they have taken learning through play completely out of all classrooms. Meaning that the students don't have center time at all. This make me very worried because all children learn through play! I also just got to visit and learn about how children do learn through play in my Science Methods class. We actually got to be young students and play in a sensory type classroom at our University. It was so cool because we learned that some students are able to play with water tubs, they are able to cook, color, play with legos etc. Children whom get to have these experiences learn so much about themselves and the real world. So I think it is very important to keep centers for children and give all students the opportunity to learn through play.
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Thanks so much for posting uploading the information about children play. I am a firm believer that children should learn by playing, especially our preschoolers and elementary age students/children. Its very hands on and fun. Its like an informal assessment.
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If the Finland understands Students must play to ask questions, imagine, create & Finland performs well, is it time for the United States to follow?
Play is Learning in Finland
Thank you for sharing that article!
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Thanks for Sharing. This gave me some good ideas!
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One of the things that comes to mind when I think of learning science through play is sorting objects. You may mix plastic tolls with plastic foods in a center and watch how children sort them even if you don't ask them to.
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Even more wonderful than that is being able to observe how students from different cultures and backgrounds sort objects. Students organize and place items differently based on their life experiences and what items may be used for at home (in their countries or here). So an answer can be totally correct "back home" and totally incorrect in school here...and completely confusing to a student.
It is something to keep in mind and be cognizant of when offering "ability" testing to students of diverse cultures. Plenty of research suggests that ability tests do not always cross cultures. This has implications on tasks as simple as a primary student sorting objects. Here's a journal articles on ability assessments:
You can't take it with you: Why ability assessments don't cross cultures.
Greenfield, Patricia M.
American Psychologist, Vol 52(10), Oct 1997, 1115-1124. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.52.10.1115
What about setting up science exploration opportunities for students during recess? Things like pinwheels, thermometers and barometers, etc.
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I love this idea! I recently visited the Birch Aquarium in San Diego which has an outdoor exhibit all about energy. This exhibit, called Boundless Energy, was essentially a giant playground for kids of all ages that explored the science behind alternative energy sources--wind, solar, waves--in a very interactive way.
This post reminds me of Finland's educational system, known to be one of the best in the world. Students are in school for a lot less time, they are given very little homework, they take long recess breaks,...they get to be children playing freely and are some of the highest-achieving students in the world. I wonder how we can incorporate this into American public school education?
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Thanks for posting!
I definitely think that as educators we should be more conscious of how significant play really is in a child's success to learning. Especially in current times, where free play is getting reduced to such a little amount, and is even non existent in some classrooms.
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Great article, thanks for sharing!
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This article is very interesting! As an advocate for learning through play, I definitely agree with the ideas presented here. Children most definitely learn through hands on interaction and play.
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I think A LOT of science concepts can be taught through play! A lot of the experiments done with children, they will think it is playing. Children are so much more engaged in activities like this instead of just sitting in lecturing to young children. Learning through play is even beneficial for older students!
One experiment that I did with second graders that they really liked was "Cloud in a Cup". In this experiment, the children really liked putting the shaving cream on top of the water, adding food coloring and watching the food coloring collect and eventually fall like rain.
This link talks about different experiments that children can do that are basically playing!
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In the last couple of years, I have learned just how important play is to students. Play is just as important in the elementary grades, as it is for students preschool and below. I have learned that allowing students to play through STEM activities, allows them to work out their problem solving skills, monitor their emotions, and enhance their social skills. I believe that as teachers we need to remember that we can't hover. We need to allow our students to have play time. They need this time to enhance their skills in multiple different areas. One of my favorite play activities that students can do is through clay. I have seen so many different students play with clay, but I have never seen the same creation from a different student. This play can be as simple as having clay on the table and letting them create whatever they want, or it can be as complex as asking them to create different structures to hold something or withhold wind or water.
I really like the link that you added! I believe that it is so important to allow students to learn and socialize through play as well as different experiments, and these different experiments would be great in the classroom.
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Thank you for sharing your article! I truly believe that science concepts are taught through play; especially with younger students. It is an essential part of children development and keeps students engaged. I hope to incorporate play more in my classroom as long as I can keep it aligned to not only science, but all lessons!
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Piaget was one of the greatest advocates for children learning through play, and he has been one of my all time favorites. It is very important that students learn through play, and I have been working with pre-schoolers this semester to contest to that. Thank you for the wonderful resources! I think all the children (not just pre-schoolers) should be learning through play, particularly science!
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This article was great!!! Thank You for sharing these amazing resources . I believe that it is a great idea for kids to learn science through play. This is a great method to encourage an inquiring mind. The ingredients of play are precisely the ones that fuel learning, in addition to promoting a state of low anxiety, play provides opportunities for novel experiences, active engagement, and learning from peers and adults. I believe that teaching students in an early age science will help students think critically and at the end students will love science. These resources are great and I will definitely use them in my future science class.
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I found an interesting article that talks about why children are so attracted to water, and the value of water play. I've seen a lot of different water tables put together in the preschool classroom where I assist at, and they always have so much fun with them! I've attached the article below.
Science_Concepts_Young_Children_Learn_Through_Water_Play_Carol_M_Gross.pdf (0.76 Mb)
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Mikaela, I love that article and find Carol Gross's ideas very effective! Thanks for sharing.
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This is a very interesting topic to me, as I recently took a human development course in which we talked about the best ways children learn depending on what developmental stages they are in. In that class, I learned that as you mentioned young children are very curious. Due to their curiosity, they experiment. By doing so, they learn from experience. That is why as I learned in class, play in the classroom and in general has a big impact on the learning of young children. They are having an enjoyable experience when it is incorporated into their learning and they are actually learning, it is an overall positive event. That is why I believe it should be seen as an effective method of learning, and should be incorporated in the classroom more often.
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I have always been real big in children being able to do hands on activities. I believe we should incorporate more play during a lesson to help students understand the concepts of certain materials. Students will be having fun while they are learning at the same time. Students will be more eager to learn something new and they will most likely remember what they did that day if play was involved in the lesson.
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I found the article very interesting. I am currently studying Early Childhood education, and in many classes I've been taught that through play children can learn on their own through discovery. After the discovery, as teachers we can facilitate and guide their new formed knowledge. Thank you for sharing this great article!
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Thank you for sharing this article. I agree playful learning is essential to help with the growth of of the minds of the youth. I am in my first semester of student teaching, and I am seeing more worksheets being taught in classrooms. I feel with without playful learning, the students creativity is constantly stifled. When we push worksheet after worksheet we stop the thinking of the children. I feel the worksheets do not allow the students to think on their own. I will keep this article in mind when I become a teacher.
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I love the language-choice used in this article. Specifically, I agree when the author challenges educators to raise students up to be "purposeful creators." Creativity is nourished during play time because it challenges young learners to improvise, discover, dream, and challenge each other. Discovering a topic through play will give the students a much higher sense of independence and self-sufficiency than when they simply just fill in the blanks, and someone else is doing the thinking for them. Learning through play will guide the students through a process, and one question will raise another question, and another, and another, until they reach the discovery they are trying to find or prove. The article mentions "Playworks" in schools as one of the tools used to promote learning through play. I have seen this in my current school where I student teach and have found that the students are highly engaged and grow in their prosocial skills when they engage in active play. Again, the author of this article did a great job at linking play with creativity. In a world of high-technology and constant improvements, it is essential for students to be innovators. Innovation only comes through increasing creativity and being unafraid to try new things, even after failing several times. I aspire to incorporate play into my methodology of teaching as it will improve my classroom management, will promote students to critically think for themselves, and will also help build healthy relationships within the classroom.
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I agree that play is children's work! Play gives them a chance to experience trial and error. For example, if they are trying to build a course for a marble to go through, they will experiment to see which types of set ups allows the marble to continue moving. If the marble stops before reaching the end of the course the children will need to figure out what they can change about the course to keep the marble moving. This can also help you as teacher see the students thought process. Something you could not see on a multiple choice test. While the students are playing you can ask them why they are doing what they are doing to have them explain their thinking. Along with having the students explain their thinking to each other. Students are usually willing and excited to share things that they have worked so hard on.
I was able to visit a early childhood STEM classroom during one of my preservice teacher courses. In this classroom there were so many great centers to incorporate in the classroom to encourage both play and learning. There were blocks, where students can build courses like I mentioned earlier. Water tables, where students could build water fountains. Also a white sheet and flashlights where students could learn all about shadows. With my experience in classrooms I have seen that students love Lego's as well. They are able to learn how to build, how to use space, and how to be creative. All of these centers would be intriguing to students, and they think they are just playing, but you as a teacher know that they are actually learning!
Check out this great article for more information about science and also literacy centers!
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I am a preservice teacher at the University of Northern Iowa. In my class, we are talking about early childhood learning, which happens to be the lower elementary ages kindergarten - 3rd grade. In my class, we have talked a lot about the fact that play based learning is very important in a child's cognitive learning career. No matter what the children are playing with they are learning. A set of unit blocks seems to be the most popular learning object for children. These unit blocks can help them figure out why the tower keeps falling over, allowing them to continuously work with the same thing to find a different result. In an article I read, that I have attached to this post, in order to connect math, science and technology skills, through play, you can trigger this content through questions such as what is the problem, what have others done, what are the constraints, what are some solutions, brainstorm ideas, choose the best one, and even allows the children to draw a diagram of their ideas. This article gives many ideas about the ways engineering ties in with many other subject areas along with proof of why the play based learning is so important.
Revealing the Work of Young Engineers in Early Childhood Education (External Website)
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I am currently a pre-service teacher at the University of Northern Iowa and I think that play is incredibly important if done correctly. Play should be meaningful. For instance, don't just have them color in coloring pages. Have your students explore different concepts and phenomena. Our school is lucky to have a classroom full of different science manipulatives and we got to explore some possible stations for our future classroom. In your classroom, you could have a station where students are using wooden blocks or legos to build structures or marble tracks. Another station could work with shape puzzles or shadow puppets. There was even a station with water and different containers for the students to explore. Many of these things are easy to obtain and lead to creative thinking.
In order to have effective play, teachers must create a social-moral atmosphere. That means that the teacher relinquishes some authority and gives the students more opportunities to make decisions. If teachers want students to explore and problem solve, they must allow their students to feel confident in making decisions without direction from the teacher. This can be a hard concept for some teachers. Teachers also need to teach their students how to work collaboratively with others and how to resolve a conflict by themselves. There is this wonderful article that I will attach below that continues to explain some of the concepts that I have mentioned. I highly recommend that teachers take a look at it!
The last thing that I would like to say is that play needs to be more than 20 minutes. By the time students set up an activity or decide what they are going to do, time is already passed. If teachers are going to incorporate play, they must be willing to devote time to allow students to truly explore the things around them.
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I am a preservice teacher at the University of Northern Iowa. In my science methods class we have started to dig into this subject more and more. We had the chance to visit an early childhood STEM classroom to see all the variety of things you can include in your classroom to facilitate creativity and experimentation with your students. In this classroom they had everything from legos to cooking materials. I found the cooking station the most interesting because I would not think that it would work with younger children. But, turns out its easy to incorporate into your class and allow students to experiment with different chemical reactions while making the food.
We have also been discussing that some schools are taking out station time or free time for students to interact with different materials and just play. This seems to be going in the wrong direction. in the article it mentioned how, “play fosters creative thinking”, and that is how every administrator and teacher should feel. Play isn’t just play, it’s a way for students to discover, experiment, imagine and dream. I also think the point about students becoming better test takers, but in turn laking in imagination is important to see. There are so many ways students can learn core subjects through play. Like others have mentioned before me, building a course out of blocks for a marble to go through and discovering how shadows work through a white sheet and flashlight allow for learning. This engages students so much more when they can have freedom to make their own choices and not have the teacher be the authority over every little thing they do. Student engagement will rise with creativity and ability to use their imagination.
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I am currently a preservice teacher at the University of Northern Iowa. The resources that you provided was great and I think that play essential in the younger elementary grades. At this age, children are so curious about everything and allowing them play is a great way to help them explore their curiosities. In my science class at UNI, we recently visited a classroom that had different stations where students can not only play but learn critical skills as well. While playing, students can explore new ideas and concepts, learn how to work with others and share things, and can take risks and try new things. At the stations, students could explore hows different items making shadows, can learn how to cook things, can explore how electricity is conducted through circuits, can build ramps with blocks, and can even play with Lego's. The freedom to go and explore each of these stations will help increase their interest in the stations and will help them learn about all that science has to offer.
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Like all the other posts before me, I also enjoyed the article about play and how it is work for children! Play is essential for both young and older students and from my experience, students learn to be curious and solve problems through play! I was fortunate enough to teach a lesson using ramps and pathways and in this lesson, rather than lecture students, I simply handed students ramps, blocks, and marbles and then they played. Students who were shy and hesitant before were so excited and as I watched these students explore through play, I knew that this is something that I would like to see in my future classroom and everywhere!
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I have been working with young children starting at 18 months at a daycare for just over ten years now. One of the first things that I learned working there with the toddlers is how they learn through play. Using blocks, drama play, and manipulatives are just a few ways for young children to start learning through play. Toddler rooms are an important place to start children with science exploration. They are already very curious on how things work. Through a recent exploration time I spent in an early education science classroom, there are endless possibilities our students to play around with, while learning in the process.
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Thanks for sharing that article, I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading it! As a future educator I love the idea of incorporating more time to be active as well as play, both for educational and for fun. One quote that stood out to me when reading this was “better adjusted, smarter and less stressed” I believe that this is true in so many ways. For one allowing students this time to interact with other students lets them learn of of others without thinking or the pressure as well as getting communicative and working with other skills. Another point is that kids might take something hands on and fun as play but is also educational so you can get them learning without them seeing that until a later point. Also incorporating play into their day breaks up educational time and allows them to be creative and find themselves as well as destress from subjects that might challenging or difficult for them. Overall in my future classroom I want to make sure that I have time for play even with all the pressure from the government of what we are required to teach, I believe it is important!
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Thank you for sharing this article with us about why playful learning is the key to prosperity. I believe that children do learn better by doing and having multiple forms of learning from visual, to auditory, to hands on learning. It is better for them to explore their options and come up with hypothesis on their own and learn from their mistakes. By having the children learn through play their are able to explore through the space to dream, discover, improvise and challenge convention. Having them learn through play is that they can explore into their own interests by having them not even realize that they are learning. Overall in my future classroom I want to make sure that I have time for play even with all the pressure from the government of what we are required to teach, I believe it is important!
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Thank you for sharing this article!
At the place where I work, Play is the essential part of students' learning. Through play, they work on different areas such as math, science, and language. They are engaged and have fun.
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This post is something I genuinely can agree with. I have not yet finished my degree, but I have done many field hours in different schools with different teacher. I agree, with all the pressure of state exams students are becoming less creative and imaginative. Most of the classes I have completed my field hours in have been all about drilling students with information to pass these exams. So many handouts, work sheets, questions answered directly from the book, it seems that students have lost their ability to think diveregently. This is sad because these are thinking skills that will help them in real life settings. Thank you for sharing this article! It was a great read.
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Hello Kathleen! Thank you for your post! I find myself always sneaking in an engaging game at the end of the lesson to create some movement or competition within the class. I ask myself sometimes if this is too fun for the students. I believe that the students should always have fun while learning because that is their way to collaborate with others but also see the relevance of the lesson. With collaboration and fine motor skills, children are able to learn the skills that allow them to become lifelong learners. I hope to incorporate many more of these activities in my classroom!
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This is really a great concept to think about for future educators! I am currently studying elementary education and I would love to have new ways to teach my future students so that they can have fun and be engaged in the lesson. Children are constantly learning, even while enjoying themselves playing a game. Incorporating curriculum content into play time can be a great way to get the students excited about learning without even realizing it! Some concepts in science can be difficult to learn traditionally, so I believe that doing so through play could only benefit the students in the long-run.
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Thank you for sharing the article! This was a very insightful article, and definitely something I would like to keep in mind when I teach. I have worked in many learning centers and daycares and this rings a lot of truth that science concepts can be learned through play. Children are very curious, especially those in early childhood and they learn a lot by interacting with the environment around them. I know we did a lot of kid-friendly science experiments when I used to work for these learning centers, and the children just love it! They're truly engaged and naturally curious about what was presented. Therefore, I definitely agree that play should be integrated into learning, especially in science.
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I absolutely think play is important for children! The article was amazing! Children need play as much as they need transitions, rewards, motivation, and instruction. One of the best ways children retain information is if they're engaged. Making lessons with play in them even if its role playing or using puppets, is a great way to improve your lesson. Children will always be curious but we as teachers have to make sure we meet as many needs as we can.
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In regards to teaching young children in secondary education, what are some pedagogical strategies that teachers can implement in the classroom in order to promote the learning of science through "play" or through experiences?
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