“Play nourishes every aspect of children’s development – it forms the foundation of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary for success in school and in life. Play paves the way for learning”. (Canadian Council on Learning – Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre), “Let the Children Play: Nature’s Answer to Early Learning”, Lessons in Learning (Ottawa: CCL, 2006), p. 2“John Dewey also had strong opinions regarding play; that the interests and needs of children should come first. His ideas have become the foundation for many current views of play. “[…] Dewey advocated an education for young children that was embedded in their current experience in the world that surrounded them. He thought play could be used to help children reconstruct their experience and to gain meaning from it” (Saracho & Spodek, 1995, pg. 133). Much learning through ‘play’ happened this week. The children ‘played’ with ramps, light and shadow and telling the time. It was purposeful play, that scaffolded their understanding in the areas of science, math and literacy.
Their play supported their ability to:
- Problem solve
- Apply new knowledge (math/science)
- Work cooperatively with others
- Develop empathy
- Self regulate
- Think creatively
- Acquire and use mathematical/scientific vocabulary
- It made visible their understandings, and misconceptions, so that further inquiry could be planned.
The children were deeply engaged in this play. They themselves suggested, “Making a plan”, something we often talk about in our inquiry work. Negotiating who was to carry out which task, involved much discussion and compromising! The simple joy of being able to build large, explore new materials and create something independently was palpable. It showed how much they want to use their knowledge in the real world.