Early Childhood

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.

kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathleen Renfrew
33680 Activity Points

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.

Kadian Smalling
Kadian Smalling
200 Activity Points

Kathy, 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... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR5pO_85fMk Betty

Betty Paulsell
Betty Paulsell
48550 Activity Points

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

Carly Segovia
Carly Segovia
1215 Activity Points

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? Caria



10 Activity Points

Hello Kathleen, 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. -Rida

Rida Rangoonwala
Rida Rangoonwala
670 Activity Points

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.

Danielle George
Danielle George
970 Activity Points

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!

Attachments

Keaton Despard
Keaton Despard
3800 Activity Points

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.

Ambar Fernandez
Ambar Fernandez
230 Activity Points

Hello Kathleen,

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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Gabriela Aparicio
gabriela Aparicio
855 Activity Points

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.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
90714 Activity Points

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.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
90714 Activity Points

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.

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson
23 Activity Points

Hello Kathy, 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. Thank you,

Luz Alonzo
Luz Alonzo
380 Activity Points

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.

Carolina Olvera
Carolina Olvera
415 Activity Points

This artricle was a great read!  Thanks

Toneka Bussey
Toneka Bussey
1928 Activity Points

This is such an amazing article for student-centered, developmentally appropratie learning! 

Kaitlyn Beha
Kaitlyn Beha
1010 Activity Points

"Play is children's work."

I love this quote! Play should certainly be integrated into all subjects. It is a shame that in my area, there are very few opportunities for children to truly play. Once I am in my own classroom, I know I will try my best to provide as many opportunities as possible for my learners to PLAY and gain experiences. 

 

Brittany

Brittany Cortez
Brittany Cortez
190 Activity Points

Hello Kathleen, This article was very helpful towards my studies. Thank you for sharing. I am currently taking a course in my teacher education program called Dynamics of Play & Play Environments. In this class we have learned that it is important to encourage and include play in the curriculum. Play helps develop the whole child. Play and science can go hand in hand. For example children can use dramatic play by using their imagination to pretend to be animals in a habitat or even making slime in the classroom or at home. I know play is found more in the lower grade levels, but do you think we should encourage 3-5 grade teachers to invite play in their classrooms?

 

Cynthia Banda
Cynthia Banda
220 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing this article! As a preservice teacher, I am always on the look out for articles that I can keep for when I am a teacher. This is one article I will be sure to save! 

One of my favorite parts of the article is when Townsend said, "Learning through play with 'hands-on, minds-on' approaches." An approach that I have recently learned about is project-based learning. This might not be considered "play" but project-based learning is a 'hands-on, minds-on' strategy that allows students of all ages to explore, create, and share concepts that are being studied in class. 

-Samantha 

Samantha Hellman
Samantha Hellman
190 Activity Points

This is a very intriguing article, Kathy! I agree that play is a very important contributing factor in emphasizing strategic thinkers and purposeful creators. Play fosters creative thinking and encourages a more creative society where scientists and artists alike use creativity to understand our world and to solve problems that can't be explained: "inside the box." Play is attached to social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. This "hands-on minds-on learning" helps students visualize those abstract topics and helps students use their own individuality and creativity to solve problems in a more interactive way. 

Sarah Brooks
Sarah Brooks
355 Activity Points

Kathy, 

 

Thank you for posting this aritcle. As a preservice teacher I am alwalys looking for ways to incorporate fun with learning. The point I found  most intriguing was when reaserach showed that the students who were able to play with the items could name more abstrfact and unusual ways of using the object then those who did not. 

one question I have is: for different grade levels, How can I implement lay in a way that does not take the childrens focus off the main task?

Natanya Gladner
Natanya Gladner
180 Activity Points

Hi Kathleen, my name is Macie Ault I am a senior at the University of Northern Iowa. I am majoring in elementary education and in several classes we have had different conversations as to why children need that play, to really help them grow. We have talked about STEM; Science, Technology, Enineeering, and Mathematics. These are all things that students need in order to grow and learn. Giving students the opportunity to play and create new things will help them grow in so many different ways. Students need that time to explore and navitage somewhat on their own. They also need that time to to ask questions and think for themselves. Letting students have time in the classroom to do some imatinative play and be able to use their imagination and create new and different things will give that student a lot more than just making the student sit at a desk and listen to the teacher. Students need the hands on interactions inorder to learn, by letting students play and explore on their own they will be able to learn so much more. I think it is a great idea and I hope to learn about new ways that I can incoorperate play in my future classroom. 

Macie Ault
Macie Ault
3360 Activity Points

This is a great article and a really important topic! Play is not only important for a child, but every child has the right to play. I think that it is so vital for a child to have the experience of play while in the classroom. Play can be structured, in a sense, through different centers and activities while still allowing creativity and exploration for the child. Our public schools have become so focused on literacy and math that even kids as young as kindergarten students are feeling pressure to succeed. When students lose the opportunity to play, they are losing the chance to create questions and develop curiosity of the world around them. This can have a negative impact in the long run. Students should be encouraged to play throughout their elementary career. It is possible, and I think beneficial, to be able to incorporate play into the school’s curriculum.

Catherine

Catherine Moeller
Catherine Moeller
2740 Activity Points

Hi Kathy! I am currently an early childhood education major at the University of Northern Iowa. The concept of children learning through play is one that is very imporant to me as a future educator. I think that in our current educational trends this is often the first thing that is forgotten. It is important to me that we not only advocate for our kiddos and what they need and how they best learn but also to incorporate these practices into our classroom however we can, no matter what the trends are. One simple way that I believe this can be done is to incorporate unit blocks into all early childhood classrooms (including upper level early childhood classroom such as 1st-3rd grades). Unit blocks can be used to help children learn specific physics and engineering concepts and they can be used for center time so that children can explore these concepts through play. 

Trisha Knott
Trisha Knott
2645 Activity Points

This is such a great article, thank you for sharing it. I'm currently a student studying early childhood education. I continue to learn in a lot of my classes how important play is for children and all of the different skills they can gain from just play. Others may not see how it can help with fine motor skills or how it is helping children cognitively and can only see the children playing with toys but play is so important for children especially the younger ones.

Natalie Witt
Natalie Witt
2735 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

Thanks for sharing that article. What a good read! I am a preservice teacher taking a class called Teaching Elementary School Science at the University of Northern Iowa. In this class we have talked a lot on how science and engineering work together. Last week we were able to visit an early childhood mock classroom that we have on campus. It was a very hands on and beneficial learning experience because we were able to explore the same centers we want our students to use. While in the classroom, the professor brought to our attention that many observers view centers like this play, while we view it as work (much like your quote). One of the main centers that are rich with learning opportunities is the block center. Children building structures allows them to grasp onto thoughts concerning stability, balance, properties of materials, and spatial reasoning. When adding the idea of ramps and pathways, children created ramps that move objects into their block structure. Adding these ramps and pathways gives students the chance to explore thoughts about steepness and speed, weight of objects, distance rolled, and force and motion.  It is amazing to watch the students create such complex and innovative designs that deal with properties of physics and engineering designs(not to mention the increased vocabulary!). I agree with your statement that children need to be inovolved in experiences. Building blocks was just one of many ideas that introduce science and engineering practices within a elementary classroom. These experiences permit students to work with materials and objects that promote engineering and design, problem solving, adaptation skills, collaborative tendencies, and the development of their emerging abilities.

Emily Cook
Emily Cook
2535 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

 

Thank you for sharing the article. I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Elementary Education. I too think that "play is children's work". Especially for the younger students, their greatest creations, ideas, and reasoning may stem from play. Recently, my science methods course had the opportunity to step inside a model classroom. This classroom had many opportunities for students to get involved in scientific thinking while also playing. The classroom had a water table, building blocks and logs, many reading options, and other great items for children to explore. I think students learn the most when they don't recognize their play is teaching them something! 

 

-Karlie 

Karlie Fahey
Karlie Fahey
1655 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

 

Thank you for sharing the article. I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Elementary Education. I too think that "play is children's work". Especially for the younger students, their greatest creations, ideas, and reasoning may stem from play. Recently, my science methods course had the opportunity to step inside a model classroom. This classroom had many opportunities for students to get involved in scientific thinking while also playing. The classroom had a water table, building blocks and logs, many reading options, and other great items for children to explore. I think students learn the most when they don't recognize their play is teaching them something! 

 

-Karlie 

Karlie Fahey
Karlie Fahey
1655 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

 

Thank you for sharing the article. I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Elementary Education. I too think that "play is children's work". Especially for the younger students, their greatest creations, ideas, and reasoning may stem from play. Recently, my science methods course had the opportunity to step inside a model classroom. This classroom had many opportunities for students to get involved in scientific thinking while also playing. The classroom had a water table, building blocks and logs, many reading options, and other great items for children to explore. I think students learn the most when they don't recognize their play is teaching them something! 

 

-Karlie 

Karlie Fahey
Karlie Fahey
1655 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

 

Thank you for sharing the article. I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Elementary Education. I too think that "play is children's work". Especially for the younger students, their greatest creations, ideas, and reasoning may stem from play. Recently, my science methods course had the opportunity to step inside a model classroom. This classroom had many opportunities for students to get involved in scientific thinking while also playing. The classroom had a water table, building blocks and logs, many reading options, and other great items for children to explore. I think students learn the most when they don't recognize their play is teaching them something! 

 

-Karlie 

Karlie Fahey
Karlie Fahey
1655 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

 

Thank you for sharing the article. I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Elementary Education. I too think that "play is children's work". Especially for the younger students, their greatest creations, ideas, and reasoning may stem from play. Recently, my science methods course had the opportunity to step inside a model classroom. This classroom had many opportunities for students to get involved in scientific thinking while also playing. The classroom had a water table, building blocks and logs, many reading options, and other great items for children to explore. I think students learn the most when they don't recognize their play is teaching them something! 

 

-Karlie 

Karlie Fahey
Karlie Fahey
1655 Activity Points

I completely agree that play fosters creative thinking. Alot of times, we as adults try to teach kids the "right way" of doing things instead of letting them explore their ideas and thinking. I think it is important to rememebr that not everything needs to classified as the right or wrong way. Sometimes it is fun just to explore the way things work.

Valarie Cervantes
Valarie Cervantes
530 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing this article Kathleen! As a preservice teacher I am very interested in how to ensure that I am learning the best and most relevant teaching methods. This article really reminds us that children need play and have hands on approaches to ensure that learning is fun and meaningful to them. I truly appreciate this article and its message to allow children to play as they learn to ensure we as educators and future educators are building life long learners. 

Cindy Alvarenga
Cindy Alvarenga
330 Activity Points

Hello!

I want to add that play shouldn't be just for children but for ALL ages.  If adults learn and/or take more time to "play" they'll be less stressful to handle the challenging work ahead of them.  Being a middle school teacher, I need to engage my students more in play to hook them to the learning process - to see there is fun in learning something new.  Even as we grow older, it's important for us to learn something to engage ourselves in fun and play.

Quyen Han
Quyen Han
9500 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing the link! I definitely agree that young children are always asking questions and have so much curiosity about the world around them. Play is crucial to a child's development, and I think is the best way for them to observe their environment through exploration and discovery. I also think it is important for teachers to meet children where they are at developmentally, and incorporating play and hands-on activities into science lessons is one way to help children build both academic and functional skills (ex: fine motor skills, social skills, etc.) and ensure that young children are learning content in a way that is developmentally appropriate for them. 

Stephanie Yokoyama
Stephanie Yokoyama
305 Activity Points

Hi Kathleen, 

Awesome article! I've been working at a preschool for over 5 years now, and I find this article very insightful and eye-opening. "Play" is such an important thing in a young child's life, and can be an amazing tool to enhance learning. One of the new things that the lead teacher in my class and I are trying to implement is more hands-on science experiments where the children can engage with their senses and practice "collecting data".

 

Thank you for this article! 

Amber Kaulia
Amber Kaulia
500 Activity Points

For more on science for young children, see Peggy Ashbrook's column in the Science & Children journal and her Early Years blog.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
9705 Activity Points

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. Peggy 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

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
8465 Activity Points

Those are some great resources!! I think that it is a great idea for kids to learn science through play.

Sarah Perkins
Sarah Perkins
3165 Activity Points

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.

Jamie Becker
Jamie Becker
2280 Activity Points

Thanks for the resources!

Toneka Bussey
Toneka Bussey
1928 Activity Points

Thank you, Peggy, for all those great resources. I plan to share them with my preservice teachers! Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
84543 Activity Points

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.

Kate Schroeder
Kate Schroeder
400 Activity Points

Katie, 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. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathleen Renfrew
33680 Activity Points

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.

Nichole Thomas
Nichole Thomas
10 Activity Points

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. http://vimeo.com/73469081

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
43258 Activity Points

Hi All: 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. Adah

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

Adah 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. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathleen Renfrew
33680 Activity Points

Adah -

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iDEiBTSAZM

Angel Peterson
Angel Peterson
2360 Activity Points

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.

Margaret Stout
Margaret Stout
3400 Activity Points

Margaret, 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
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
43258 Activity Points

Margaret- 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, Naomi Beverly

Naomi Beverly
Naomi Beverly
19130 Activity Points

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.

Peggy Ashbrook
Peggy Ashbrook
8465 Activity Points

Peggy, 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. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathleen Renfrew
33680 Activity Points

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]

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
8465 Activity Points

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.

Brad Pollesch
Brad Pollesch
450 Activity Points

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!

Destiny Huggins
Destiny Huggins
10040 Activity Points

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.

Briana Tharas
Briana Tharas
180 Activity Points

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.

Brianna Marvin
Brianna Marvin
2030 Activity Points

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.

Catherine Lobrin
Catherine Lobrin
1770 Activity Points

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


Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathleen Renfrew
33680 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing that article!

Heather Durham
Heather Couser
4285 Activity Points

Thanks for Sharing. This gave me some good ideas!

Tegan Collier
Tegan Collier
5475 Activity Points

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.

Zeinab Kobeissi
Zeinab Kobeissi
1185 Activity Points

Zeinab-- 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

Naomi Beverly
Naomi Beverly
19130 Activity Points

What about setting up science exploration opportunities for students during recess? Things like pinwheels, thermometers and barometers, etc.

Sarah Kindel
Sarah Kindel
1255 Activity Points

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?

Parthenopi Milios
Parthenopi Milios
20 Activity Points

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.

Rima Alsayed
Rima Alsayed
1315 Activity Points

Great article, thanks for sharing!

Martalicia Becerra
Martalicia Becerra
1795 Activity Points

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.

Nydia Alvarado
Nydia Alvarado
715 Activity Points

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! http://www.fundamentallychildren.com/play-ideas/by-subject/science/

Ashtyn Riley
Ashtyn Riley
3830 Activity Points

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.

Tera Porter
Tera Porter
2215 Activity Points

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!

Emerald Lee
Emerald Lee
585 Activity Points

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!

Norah Basyouni
Norah Basyouni
430 Activity Points

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.

Liani Pierrot
Liani Pierrot
2710 Activity Points

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.

Mikaela Bahlmann
Mikaela Bahlmann
3195 Activity Points

Mikaela, I love that article and find Carol Gross's ideas very effective! Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
8465 Activity Points

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.

Selena Martinez
Selena Martinez
190 Activity Points

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.

Karolina Ramirez
Karolina Ramirez
70 Activity Points

Hello, 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!

Kristy Guerra
Kristy Guerra
290 Activity Points

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.

Adrene Henninger
Adrene Henninger
700 Activity Points

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.

Melina Gaggero
Melina Gaggero
270 Activity Points

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!  https://s3.amazonaws.com/NSTA1/1439619/04_Science_and_Literacy_Centers.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIMRSQAV7P6X4QIKQ&Expires=1520605816&Signature=41KvT2gE5w38QkBtRHxjB0JC5fo%3d 

Kennedy Carber
Kennedy Carber
3745 Activity Points

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.

Keela Uhlenkamp
Keela Uhlenkamp
1860 Activity Points

Hello! 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. [url=https://s3.amazonaws.com/NSTA1/1439619/06_Putting_the_Cart_before_the_horse_2009.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIMRSQAV7P6X4QIKQ&Expires=1520605895&Signature=dQwPppEI3hE%2bixfqVemrSTj012M%3d]https://s3.amazonaws.com/NSTA1/1439619/06_Putting_the_Cart_before_the_horse_2009.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIMRSQAV7P6X4QIKQ&Expires=1520605895&Signature=dQwPppEI3hE%2bixfqVemrSTj012M%3d [/url]

Kaitlin Schlegel
Katie Schlegel
2865 Activity Points

Hello! 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.

Brianna Martin
Brianna Martin
3074 Activity Points

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.

Dakota Dix
Dakota Dix
2500 Activity Points

Hello! 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!

Megan Lensing
Megan Lensing
2220 Activity Points

Good afternoon! 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.

Jenna Leonard
Jenna Leonard
2125 Activity Points

Kathy,

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!

Hayleigh Fecho
Hayleigh Fecho
2100 Activity Points

Kathy,
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!

Katelyn Shultz
Katelyn Shultz
3430 Activity Points

Kathy,
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!

Katelyn Shultz
Katelyn Shultz
3430 Activity Points

Hello Kathleen, 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.

Claudia Mesia
Claudia Mesia
750 Activity Points

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.

Karina Hernandez
Karina Hernandez
2405 Activity Points

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!

Taylor Luu
Taylor Luu
365 Activity Points

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.

Emily Dominguez
Emily Dominguez
2415 Activity Points

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.

Kohleen Mendoza
Kohleen Mendoza
650 Activity Points

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.

Angelica Munoz
Angelica Munoz
320 Activity Points

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?

Amitoj Kahlon
Amitoj Kahlon
20 Activity Points

I agree play is so important with STEM activities in elementary. I have a perfect example of this. Yesterday a five year old was sitting in the library at my school. I offered him books to browse. He was not too interested. :(  When we brought out the Legos, whoa! What a difference that made. It was fascinating to listen as he built and navigated through the Lego pieces. I hope the interest will come with the books, but you could definitely see the budding scientist!      

Donna Shah
Donna Shah
1653 Activity Points

I agree play is so important with STEM activities in elementary. I have a perfect example of this. Yesterday a five year old was sitting in the library at my school. I offered him books to browse. He was not too interested. :(  When we brought out the Legos, whoa! What a difference that made. It was fascinating to listen as he built and navigated through the Lego pieces. I hope the interest will come with the books, but you could definitely see the budding scientist!      

Donna Shah
Donna Shah
1653 Activity Points

This is a very interesting concept to me. A lot of my professors tell us how important it is for learning through play and I think using play in science is a great idea to get everyone engaged and learning together. 

Sarah Anne Bannerman
Sarah Anne Bannerman
520 Activity Points

I think this is the best way for any child to learn. Playing while learning allows them to use all of their senses in exploring something. This can then take them on a whole different level of understanding. 

Jacquelyn White
Jacquelyn White
988 Activity Points

I really enjoyed this article!! I 100% agree that playing while learning is an excellent way for children to expand their senses and thinking while truly building deep understandings of concepts. Play is important business to children, so why not harness that excitment and focus for learning. 

Alyssa Schulte
Alyssa Schulte
2305 Activity Points

Hi Kathy, thank you for sharing the article it is very informative and interesting. I also really liked the quote you shared since it is something I personally believe in. 

 "play is children's work" 

Dalia Guzman
Dalia Guzman
65 Activity Points

How can students play, learn and still follow the curriculum?

any tips?

Thank you.

Dalia Guzman
Dalia Guzman
65 Activity Points

Can using play in science also promote a love for science?

Brittany Cortez
Brittany Cortez
190 Activity Points

I love this article, Kathy. I think that play is one of the most important parts of a student's learning process. It helps with not only physical skills, but life skills too. Play is also so imporatant for elementary students in this society when everything is technology based. Having students learn through play makes learning fun and interesting. I really enjoyed reading this article and understanding the importance of learning science concepts through playing. Thank you again for sharing! -Grace Restrepo

Grace Restrepo
Annmarie Vincenzo
525 Activity Points

Do you think that play can sometimes distract from learning science? In what ways can this not be effective? - Grace Restrepo

Grace Restrepo
Annmarie Vincenzo
525 Activity Points

This is a great reminder of how important it is to not micromanage our students! Exploration and creativity are such a big part of science and are crucial for our future scientists. Allowing our students to explore and experiment without the fear of getting penalized or judged for failure is where many schools are lacking now a days. Trial and error is essential for finding answers or getting as close to the answer as possible and, as teachers, we need to encourage this! Thank you for sharing this piece!

Lindsey Hanna
Lindsey Hanna
170 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing this link Kathy! I recently learned about learning though play and how its beneficial for children in many ways. I am happy to hear that there are high impact innovators who are trying to bring back play in the classroom. As a future teacher i encourage this link because the children are the future and its crucial that they get the education they deserve and need.

 

I myself am still a student and im wondering if you or any teachers have any ideas for science lessons in the classroom that include play?

Krista Garcia
Krista Garcia
65 Activity Points

I completely agree that students need play and hands on work to be able to really understand a concept. I do however beleive that teachers should make a huge effort to connect whatever playful activity they are doing or hands on activity to whatever concept it ties into. I think a lot of teaching focus on the activity part and then forget about the connecting it to the concept the students are supposed to learn from it. 

The a part in this article really surprised me when it talked about how recess is being cut down. I am wondering why schools are doing this if clear evidence from research has shown that young student get a deeper understanding from play. 

Reagan DeClerk
Reagan DeClerk
170 Activity Points

I think that working through play is a far more influencial way of learning. As the students construct their thoughts, they are also gaining problem-solving as well as social skills if it is collaborative. If a teacher is facilitating the play time and asking children thoguht-provoking questions, it will greatly enhance a child's education. 

Sarah Steiner
Sarah Steiner
200 Activity Points

I believe that children learn by doing! It is amazing to watch how students are so keen on creating new environments for themselves to learn. 

Caitlyn Cobb
Caitlyn Cobb
1228 Activity Points

"Play is children's work."

I love this quote so much and I think many schools and teachers need to be reminded of that today. Many schools have eliminated play as a part of their curriculum and instead are focusing on teaching and testing children from a book. We put so much pressure on children nowadays at such a young age that we forget they need to just be kids too-and just PLAY! Play is SO important as children learn from exploring with objects and materials, while building on fine and gross motor skills, and learning how to connect with peers.

Monica Malila
Monica Malila
2810 Activity Points

Working as a Head Start teacher, I have heard people tell me "you have a great job you get to play all day" to which I used to get upset and say “they are learning not playing” but play is work when you are 4 and 5 years old. At the beginning of the year, I started taking photos of the students "working" in different areas during Work Time and making a poster that showed what topics they were learning. Pictures of Home Center were titled "Social Studies" and the Discovery area was labeled "Mathematics" and so on. I wanted the parents to understand that the children were learning a foundational understanding of these concepts whilst at play.

Charie Martin
Charie Martin
515 Activity Points

Hello,

I am a child care provider and I know to well about the curiosity of little ones.  There are many age appropriate science activities that can be done right in the back yard or around the neighboorhood.  For example, kids love to plant and grow things, and pick things apart.  Maybe you can have them find certain types of plants or flowers.  The fall is  great time to introduce lots of outdoor adventures.

Teresha Sutton
Teresha Sutton
325 Activity Points

Kathy,

Thank you so much for posting this article! I currently am attending the University of Northern Iowa and am a preservice teacher. At UNI we are really trying to put an emphasis on play and "tinkering" in the classroom. I have learned about as well as worked with many resources that can be used to help promote this play. We can find that when students play, and with just a little bit of guidance, students are actually following the standards we are required to teach. Play and tinkering is something that goes almost hand and hand with science, because children are exploring their world and solving problems. When we allow students to do these things in a way that is best suited to them, their learning experiences are much more significant than anythign we try and get them to do. For the past 20 years we turned our educational focus on reading and comprehension in hopes to fix these things, and because of this we took away this play time. Slowly but surely we are realizing the negative impacts of this decision, and are now trying to reverse things back!

Maddie Johnson
Maddie Johnson
2520 Activity Points

I completely agree that play is very important to a students learing, especially at a young age. I read through the article you attached and it had some great information and points about using play as a form of learning for young students. I really enjoyed when Olav Koss said "Playing is not a luxury". I feel like in todays society most teachers will only use play as a from of reward and says it is not needed. Also looking at research about what subjects are being taught the most is literacy, whether it be reading or comprehension, and leaving science and social studies in the low 10 percent of the pie graph. I believe that is important to give students hands on experience, which will involve play, even though they are using their minds to learn and explore new things. at the University of Northern Iowa, where I go to school we have a STEM program that has an awesome room, that has activities that can help using hands on acitvities that promote learning. Hands on is a step in learning that I am going to follow throughout my years as a teacher I think it is essential to a students learning, and should also be involved with upperclassman as well. 

Kylie Phillips
Kylie Phillips
1835 Activity Points

I actually just recently had the opportunity to visit Dr. VanMeeteren’s model early childhood inquiry science classroom at the University of Northern Iowa. This classroom is dedicated to helping children explore and understand science through play. She had many different areas throughout the room that the students could explore such as ramps and pathways, making your own kazoo to see how sound works, a water flow station, a gyroscope station, light stations, and so much more. I believe that it is very beneficial for the students to be engaged in play while they are learning because it helps foster their natural curiosity and wonder. They also become much more engaged with the materials they are presented with because they are doing something they enjoy. They have the opportunity to explore phenomena that they may have see in their own lives and they can use the tools and materials presented to them to help explain those phenomena. I believe that keeping an element of “play” is very important for the development of young students’ science mindset.

Mason Foster
Mason Foster
3015 Activity Points

Kathy, 

This article was a great resource for discussing playful learning, thank you for sharing! I have always been a strong believer that children learn by doing, and learn so much on their own just by exploring during playtime. Children explore using their own interests, which is why I believe they stay more engaged, than during a typical science lesson. I have not finished my BA in Elementary Education, however I am getting ready to student teach. I have every intention to include playful learning time in my classroom, especially encouraging students to explore during recess and outside activities. I also agree that exams focus more on memorization of the content, and not focussing on creation from hands on activities or student imagination while thinking of content. I am currently in a science methods course, where we were able to visit Dr. VanMeeteren’s model of early childhood classroom. She taught us the importance of hands on actives and learning science through play. Dr. VanMeeteren recommends having different stations throughout your classrooms for students to take turns exploring. These stations such as sound works, water flow, pathways, etc, help keep students engaged. A variety of stations, which the teacher can always switch around, and the use of phenomenon is important to keep in mind while teaching science!

Brooke Neal
Brooke Neal
2975 Activity Points

I currently am in an internship at a center that follows the Reggio Emilia approach. It is truly amazing to be a part of. The kids are able to do fun things and they do not even realize that they are learning. I think learning through play is a great way to let kids learn!!

Christy Beatty
Christy Beatty
305 Activity Points

Kathy, 

My name is Brooke Craig and I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa. As a future educator, I want to strike up learning in the best way possible for my students. I truly believe that allowing students to play at a young age is far more beneficial than having them in desks all day long. In the article you posted it states, "play gives children space to dream, discover, improvise, and challenge convention." What better way for learning to begin? I think that students even better teachers than learners, so allowing them to create and improvise different things is so amusing as a future educator. Think about allowing your students to play with blocks or marble ramps. They are going to continue to stretch that tower or stretch that ramp to its max, they are constantly going to challenge themselves to continue the process. As a teacher, we can ask them questions like "why did you start your tower/ramp like this? What have you noticed gone wrong or right?" Playing is learning and it is benefiting our students more than sitting in a desk. 

Brooke

Brooke Craig
Brooke Craig
2771 Activity Points

Hi Kathy, I'm currently an Early Childhood Student at UNI. This concept of learning through play is at the core of what we learn in Early childhood.  That article you shared is really interesting and something I can relate it.  Schools nowadays have become so focused on literacy and math starting from kindergarten, that those children are not getting the opportutnity to do hands on activities or explore through play. Those children could easily have some activities such as water tables or ramps and pathways in which they would play and learn physical science thorugh that type of play, or they could even write about their experiences while exploring those kinds of activities. 

Shenay Damirgi
Shenay Damirgi
3310 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

Thank you for posting and for the attachment you included. Currently, I am an Early Childhood major with a minor in Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Throughout my classes play being brought into the classroom, has been an important topic. The statement, "Children's work is play" I agree with 100%. I always say we can learn a lot about a child through their play. Children's minds are constantly thinking, children are not made to sit in a chair all day they are made to be able to move around and explore. Recently, in class, we were able to explore a room full of different activities for children. We were asked to only visit two stations. Doing so, that made us use our imagination and to try a view an object from different perspectives. My friend was at the station with me. We were able to communicate with each other and bounce ideas off of each other. Children are able to enhance their cognitive and social skills through play. A long with many others! I cannot wait until I have a classroom of my own to try and bring play back into the classroom. One way or another. 

Sadee Koehler
Sadee Koehler
2895 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

Thank you for posting and for the attachment you included. Currently, I am an Early Childhood major with a minor in Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Throughout my classes play being brought into the classroom, has been an important topic. The statement, "Children's work is play" I agree with 100%. I always say we can learn a lot about a child through their play. Children's minds are constantly thinking, children are not made to sit in a chair all day they are made to be able to move around and explore. Recently, in class, we were able to explore a room full of different activities for children. We were asked to only visit two stations. Doing so, that made us use our imagination and to try a view an object from different perspectives. My friend was at the station with me. We were able to communicate with each other and bounce ideas off of each other. Children are able to enhance their cognitive and social skills through play. A long with many others! I cannot wait until I have a classroom of my own to try and bring play back into the classroom. One way or another. 

Sadee Koehler
Sadee Koehler
2895 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

Thank you for posting and for the attachment you included. Currently, I am an Early Childhood major with a minor in Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Throughout my classes play being brought into the classroom, has been an important topic. The statement, "Children's work is play" I agree with 100%. I always say we can learn a lot about a child through their play. Children's minds are constantly thinking, children are not made to sit in a chair all day they are made to be able to move around and explore. Recently, in class, we were able to explore a room full of different activities for children. We were asked to only visit two stations. Doing so, that made us use our imagination and to try a view an object from different perspectives. My friend was at the station with me. We were able to communicate with each other and bounce ideas off of each other. Children are able to enhance their cognitive and social skills through play. A long with many others! I cannot wait until I have a classroom of my own to try and bring play back into the classroom. One way or another. 

Sadee Koehler
Sadee Koehler
2895 Activity Points

Hi Kathy!

Thank you for posting and for the attachment you included. Currently, I am an Early Childhood major with a minor in Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Throughout my classes play being brought into the classroom, has been an important topic. The statement, "Children's work is play" I agree with 100%. I always say we can learn a lot about a child through their play. Children's minds are constantly thinking, children are not made to sit in a chair all day they are made to be able to move around and explore. Recently, in class, we were able to explore a room full of different activities for children. We were asked to only visit two stations. Doing so, that made us use our imagination and to try a view an object from different perspectives. My friend was at the station with me. We were able to communicate with each other and bounce ideas off of each other. Children are able to enhance their cognitive and social skills through play. A long with many others! I cannot wait until I have a classroom of my own to try and bring play back into the classroom. One way or another. 

Sadee Koehler
Sadee Koehler
2895 Activity Points

Kathy, this was so interesting! I am a college student taking my science methods class, and this just so happens to be our topic of discussion this week. Kids learn so much from interacting with the world around them. It is so important for us as teachers to make sure that they get to play and interact with peers because they learn so much from one another. I think that our education system is so focused right now on being the best, but they forget that kids still need to be kids and actually learn more through manipulation, peers, and experiences. We don't want kids to all be the same or think exactly alike becuase then what would our world be? Kids need to explore and be curious about things because it allows them to think critically and be imaginitive. We need to incorporate more of this into classrooms, especially at younger ages, but older kids shouldn't be left out either!

Mikayla Evers
Mikayla Evers
1885 Activity Points

Hello Kathy,

I am a senior at the Univeristy of Northern Iowa and am currently enrolled in Methods of Sceince course. We talked about this and we got to go down to the Early Childhood room and play and learn that way. It took me back to when I was a studnet. In kindergarten it was about 45% learning and 55% playing. We got to interact with our peers and play with paint, play dough, blocks, kitchen set, create station, and so much more. We got the creative side of our brain working almost every day and I think that has helped me a lot to think outside of the box and excel in school. I played outside as a kid and I got dirty. I think kids today are focused on video games and computer games. I think that getting students out and letting them explore the world and learning through being creative is the best way for little kids to learn. It is hard for a 5 or 6 year old to sit and focus duing a 45 minutes reading lesson or 45 minute math lesson. I think we need to go back to letting them explore and play in the classroom.

Kind Regards,

Cassie

CASSIE PARRISH
CASSIE PARRISH
2135 Activity Points

Hi Kathleen,

I, like many of the others commenting on this post, am a senior studying elementary education at the University of Northern Iowa, currently enrolled in a Teaching Elementary Science Methods course. I completely agree with you and the article you shared about play being a integral part of human development. I believe today that a lot of the play time is being replaced by screen time. I've heard from many people that children under the age of 3 shouldn't get any screen time at all, and while I think that it isn't realistic in today's world to believe that could happen, I think it is a great warning. The proper response I believe is to let your children play.

Research on play all seems to suggest that children learn best through inquiry-based approaches. The example of the students being told to free play with objects, being shown how to play with those objects, or given no objects suggests that children are most creative and inquisitive without too much guidance. Just place those items down in front of young kids and most will be three times more creative than the others--let students play, let them experiment, let them have fun! I walked into a Kindergarten classroom recently, and it felt nothing like my memories of kindergarten. Gone was the half of the room that was just toys, gone was free play time, gone was nap time. We don't  let these students play like we should, it's how they build knowledge and how they build relationships with others and their world.

Thank you for sharing this article with us. Although I see myself working with upper elementary students more likely, they're still kids and need to be able to be creative! Creativity is key to a great classroom, but students who are consistently shown exactly what they should do or who aren't allowed to play in general aren't going to be all that creative. Those methods create drones, play creates creators.

Spencer Westhoff
Spencer Westhoff
2380 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing this article! I recently read an article over the importance of play for children, and I appreciate that more and more educators are becoming more aware of the benefits play has on developing minds. I remember many "experiments" I conducted as a small child because I found them interesting, and it was not the product of lecturing. I love being able to hand over new concepts and let children experiment and discover on their own.

Shelby Pettigrew
Shelby Pettigrew
1160 Activity Points

I was always a hands-on student and curious one too. As I grew up everything that was about science was fascinating to me. I do agree that for a chhild to learn a new subject and to be interested in it they have to get to play or just do somehing out of their imagination that makes them comfortable to learn. About 2 years ago I went to a field trip with my nephew for his school and they took them to a museum and they were showing them  how magnets work with the paper clips even though a paper plate was in between them. while they were doing the experiment they were also getting a bit dirty with the paint they had on plate with the paper clip as they moved the magnet underneath the paper plate on top was being painted art and science was being incorporated and the kids were all having fun. The article is really interesting thank you for sharing the link!

Jocelyn Mendez
Jocelyn Mendez
235 Activity Points

I think that is is so important to allow younger students the oppurtunity to explore science so that they can began to gain an interest for it. Science can so fun for all kids if it is being delivered in an exciting manner, where students can get hands on experience with the topic.

Liliana Banderas
Liliana Banderas
200 Activity Points

I think that play is fundamental for children to learn. It allows them to explore the world around them in a way that doesn’t hinder their curiosity or creativity. When children can guide their own learning through their experiences and their interests it allows them to get a better understanding of the world around them. When my students were outside playing they took out the magnifying glasses from the classroom to explore the play area. They were pretending to be scientists and detectives examining everything they found interesting. While doing that two students found a caterpillar crawling on a shrub near the bike area. They used their magnifying glasses to see the caterpillar more clearly, they shared the features they saw, how it moved and how it felt since they touched the caterpillar. The impromptu science discovery led to us as a classroom learning about caterpillars and butterflies since they were curious to learn About what they had found while playing. 

Julia Uribe
Julia Uribe
615 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing such an amazing resource! It saddens me to see how some children cannot truly engage in free play these days. 

Clara Igou
Clara Igou
30 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing such an amazing resource! It saddens me to see how some children cannot truly engage in free play these days. 

Clara Igou
Clara Igou
30 Activity Points

Hi Cindy,

I recently went to a conference that talked about the teaching students through play. Sometimes as teachers we enforce the curriculum and expect so much from our students. We learned a lot about the brain and research shows students will master the skill more when engaged through play. I enjoyed reading the article. Thank you. 

Mireya Fletes
Mireya Fletes
125 Activity Points

Hello fellow science teacher,
 
I am replying you behalf of Funsciencedemos YouTube Channel that is home to hundreds of free videos for ideas for teachers and students to recreate in the classroom. Science is our passion and we are so excited to share our engaging, kid-teacher-parent friendly, and interactive lessons with you to use in the classroom or at home. Our videos adhere to the common core science standards, encompass a wide variety of science concepts, and are specifically geared toward younger learners. All videos on the FunScienceDemos channel come with an English subtitle that can be translated into almost any language, making science lessons accessible virtually any place in the world.  
 
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The FunScienceDemos Team

George Mehler
George Mehler
1340 Activity Points

Hello Kathy, thank you for sharing that article! I find it very interesting the ways that children in Early Childhood can learn through play, however, my only question is how can we make sure that ALL young children are learning through play at once and as a whole since every child has different styles of learning? 

Kerrie Cantu
Kerrie Cantu
190 Activity Points

Hello Kathy, this article was really great to read, i am actually learning how play is an important role in a child's development. My question to you is how can we incorporate play into different subjects, as well as the child's daily life?

Karen Martinez
Karen Martinez
170 Activity Points

Hi Kathy thank you for sharing such an interesting article. This article has helped me understand how play is a natural and daily activity which adults should encourage more not only at home but at schools. it really helped me connect my studies of play in early childhood to how play is efficient for childrens development. My question is, what are some strategies an early childhood educator can take into account when organizing play? Thank you! 

Roxanne Flores
Roxanne Flores
195 Activity Points

Hi Kathy. I’m a student and a future educator. I found your post very interesting. Specially the quote because I never thought about it that way. My mentor teachers have often incorporated some sort of play into their lesson.

Axiri Carmona
Axiri Carmona
180 Activity Points

Hi Kathy! This is a very interesting post becasue it is true! I think many people don't realize that children's curosity and play is learning and helpful for them. 

Jennifer Nesbitt
Jennifer Nesbit
215 Activity Points

I think this is an extremely cool concept and idea! How can we better integrate play into instruction but also maintain structure and control over the classroom? How do we manipulate the "play" of the students into their learning of a specific subject as teachers?

Rachel Rippee
Rachel Rippee
200 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing this link. I enjoy when the article mentions, "every child has the right to play, no only because it is fun, but because it is critical to their education and healthy development". This is important for educators to implement the idea of play in his/her lesson plans. The act of play is necessary to break in a child's social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.

Gabriella Santos
Gabriella Santos
115 Activity Points

Play is the absolute best way for children to learn.  As they freely explore their environment they are learning how things work, how to interact with peers, they are problem solving when things don't go as planned.  They are persevering through tasks that don't necessarily go as planned.  All while being relaxed and having fun.  When people enjoy something, they are more likely to absorb more in the learning process to incorporating play is critical to effective learning in children.

Terri Worrel
Terri Worrel
300 Activity Points

This article is great, I believe play is essential for children and should be a huge part of the curriculum. Children have very low attention spans and they need to be doing hands on work, sitting a desk is not going to keep them focused and they get bored so easily. Children should also get the opportunity to learn science outside more than inside the classroom.

Megan Hineline
Megan Hineline
350 Activity Points

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