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Play-Based Learning in Kindergarten
Transcript of Play-Based Learning in Kindergarten
Literacy - a road map to successful
practice Play-Based Learning-
an old concept with new applications: Centres-
How this might play out With the new full-day kindergarten curriculum, the hope is to "establish a strong foundation for learning in the early years, and to do so in a safe and caring play-based environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of all children." (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010)
The inquiry question - How does the new focus on play-based learning in kindergarten influence my teaching practice to decide how to set up activities and routines in literacy? There are different kinds of play... Teachers schedule the routines and activities of students. The kindergarten environment in highly structured but students are given many opportunities
for co-operative play through teacher directed activities. Role of the teacher: Overall expectations outlined in the Curriculum Documents, state that by the end of the Full-Day Early Learning–Kindergarten program, students will:
1. communicate by talking, listening and speaking to others for a variety of purposes and in a variety of contexts
2. demonstrate understanding and critical awareness of a variety of written materials that are read by and with the teacher and ECE
3. use reading strategies appropriate for beginning readers in order to make sense of a variety of written materials
4. communicate in writing, using strategies that are appropriate for beginners
5. demonstrate a beginning understanding and critical awareness of media texts The Literary Big Picture in Kindergarten • Block and building activities (creating scenes
from a shared reading)
• Dramatic play areas (communicating with
• Book corners and class libraries
• Writing and drawing centres (creating own books)
• Art centres (illustrating books and shared readings)
• Technology experiences (TumbleBooks, Raz Kids)
• Listening centres (modeling reading strategies)
• Puzzle and game centres
• Sensory centres such as sand, water, and play
dough (tracing the alphabet, writing their name) Webcasts for Educators Student Achievement Division. (2011).
Kindergarten Matters Intentional Play-Based Learning. http://resources.curriculum.org/secretariat/kindergarten/index.html Rethinking Play-Based Learning What play-based learning could look like... roles of students and teachers I taught kindergarten planning and struggled with how to fully incorporate play-based learning into my teaching practice. There has been a lot of talk about how the changes to the curriculum will affect how and what teachers teach. Rumours include that there can be no more pencil/paper activities and that students will have choice about what they do and when rather than
a structured schedule.. Rationale for the investigation... 1. exploratory/object/sensory play = from 0 to 2.5 years; young children explore their environment and objects through their senses (touching, mouthing, banging, etc.)
2. construction play = from 3 to 8 years; children build and make things in groups and by themselves (Lego, building blocks, etc.)
3. physical play (also called sensorimotor play, rough-and-tumble play)= from 3 to 8 years; children starts to move things (testing their strength, climbing, kicking, etc.)
4. dramatic play (also called solitary pretense) = from 3 to 8 years, pretend play (kids event situations by themselves and play many different roles)
5. socio-dramatic play (also called pretend, fantasy, make-believe, or symbolic play) = from 3 to 6 years; children create imagined situations with their peers
6. games with rules = from 5 years and up; formal games with fixed, predetermined rules like board games
7. games with invented rules = from 5 to 8 years; children invent their own games in groups, or change the rules of games they have previously played The past - Teachers still provide structure and routine but ensure choice
is given to students. The goal is to make them more
independent (increasing their social skills and
self-regulation). The goal is to determine how early
learners (kindergartners) learn best. Play-based learning is the new buzz word in early learning. The concept seems to embrace choice in activities and may change how teachers structure their classrooms and how children learn the core concepts of the kindergarten curriculum. Why play? “Symbolic play requires children to determine tasks and goals,
to carry them out, and provides opportunities for narrative recall
and use of complex language. Children in complex pretend play situations use more advanced language and have higher levels of narrative structure than they do in other situations. Children become storytellers, creating new versions of familiar stories and composing new stories.” The present - Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning. (2006). Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario’s Early Childhood Settings. https://ozone.scholarsportal.info/bitstream/1873 /8768/1/274085.pdf Achieving these things through play! Socio-dramatic play in shared imagined situations teaches children independence and self-regulation. Waterloo Region District School Board. 2012. Kindergarten in Action.
http://www.wrdsb.ca/programs/kindergarten-information/kindergarten-in-action/ With play-based learning there is an emphasis on student-directed activities. This may seem like it is limiting the role of the teacher but this is not the case.
The teacher is responsible for setting up the classroom in such a way as to promote significant play. Their role can be as observer indirectly setting up play (“adopt the role of manager as they organize the time, space and resources that promote play”) and directly participating in play (“when... the adult engages in parallel play, co-playing or play tutoring”).
So myth number 2 busted! Structure still has a place in the kindergarten classroom. Teachers must structure the schedule of the day and the classroom environment to promote beneficial learning through play. Rethinking the role of the teacher... Hewes, J. (2006). Let the children play: Nature’s answer to early learning. Lessons in Learning. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Learning. Kernan, M. (2007). Play as a context for Early Learning and Development. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Play-based learning- ensuring balance Looking at Classrooms in action Kindergartens are now lead by two people, the teacher and an early childhood educator. They work in collaboration using strategies from the old system and incorporating new strategies from early childhood learning studies.
The kindergarten classrooms I visited (all in the same school) had similar structures and routines. Students would enter the classroom and either read or play with morning bins until everyone was ready. There was a combination of structured whole class activities and individual and group activities that students could choose from and some that they were asked to
complete (for assessment purposes). The importance of play has long been recognized (August Froebel (credited as the inventor of Kindergarten), Maria Montessori and John Dewey all emphasized the importance of play in child development) and students have regularly been given time for structured and free play in classrooms (through the use of free time and centres-based learning).
With the new curriculum there are six key learning areas:
1) Personal and social development
4) Science and technology
5) Health and Physical Activity
Personal and social development is key and links well with the play-based initiative. For tips and summaries on this check out:
TVO Parents. The New Play-Based Kindergarten Curriculum Explained. 14 Mar 2011. <http://tvoparents.tvo.org/article/new-play-based-kindergarten-curriculum-explained>. Results and Analysis
(as much as can be done) So in essence... There is a lot of literature about the benefits to the social and personal development of children through play, however, there is not a lot of literature about how it specifically plays out in classrooms. It seems that the changes are not as significant as one might think if the current program includes free choice activities and centres. The different kinds of play foster the learning of different skills. How and what children play is largely dependent on their age and development. Teachers can help move the development along by scaffolding the play. The curriculum document states, "The Early Learning–Kindergarten team uses reflective practice, planned observation, and a range of assessment strategies to identify the strengths, needs, and interests of individual children in order to provide instruction that is appropriate for each child (“differentiated instruction”). This includes whole-class instruction, small-group learning, independent learning, and activities at learning centres. There should be a balance between educator-initiated and child-initiated activities – times when a member of the team guides the children’s learning and times when children are given opportunities to choose activities to demonstrate their knowledge." That's myth number 1 busted. Pencil and paper activities can
still have there place in the kindergarten classroom but only if they are relevant and
appropriate for the goal and the students. Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning. (2006). Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for
Ontario’s Early Childhood Settings. https://ozone.scholarsportal.info/bitstream/1873 /8768/1/274085.pdf
This is one of the documents used to create the new kindergarten curriculum. It is a report on the best practices for early childhood education in Ontario, Canada and other countries in the world. It is helpful for my IP because it outlines the cognitive development of children and stresses the importance of play to specific curriculum areas. “Symbolic play requires children to determine tasks and goals, to carry them out, and provides opportunities for narrative recall and use of complex language. Children in complex pretend play situations use more advanced language and have higher levels of narrative structure than they do in other situations. Children become storytellers, creating new versions of familiar stories and composing new stories.”
Hewes, J. (2006). Let the children play: Nature’s answer to early learning. Lessons in Learning. Ottawa:
Canadian Council on Learning.
In this articles, Hewes defines play and makes an argument for its importance to children today. Play is “Intrinsically motivated, Controlled by the players, Concerned with process rather than product, Non literal, Free of externally imposed rules, Characterized by the active engagement of the players”. Hewes goes on to describe seven kinds of play and what each kind gives to the player, “exploratory play, object play, construction play, physical play (sensorimotor play, rough-and-tumble play), dramatic play (solitary pretense), socio-dramatic play (pretense with peers, also called pretend play, fantasy play, make-believe, or symbolic play), games with rules (fixed, predetermined rules) and games with invented rules.” This informed my IP work because it gave me a base knowledge of how to define play and also the role of the adult. Hewes states that it is not enough to simply be supportive of play and to give students time to do it; the adult must also set up an environment that aids in play and be there during it to guide and support.
Kernan, M. (2007). Play as a context for Early Learning and Development. National Council for
Curriculum and Assessment.
In the article, Kernan describes play based learning and the roles of adults ranging from indirect planning to a direct role in the play. This informed my IP work as it describes the how a teacher may foster play in the classroom setting and Adults’ roles in children’s play can also be viewed as a continuum between indirect planning for play to directly being involved in the play. With limited involvement, teachers may “adopt the role of manager as they organise the time, space and resources that promote play”. I think this is what traditionally kindergarten teachers have done. With play based learning, however, and the emphasis on teaching curriculum through play the teacher must take a more direct role, “when for example the adult engages in parallel play, co-playing or play tutoring”.
TVO Parents. The New Play-Based Kindergarten Curriculum Explained. 14 Mar 2011.
This article is an excellent primer on the new curriculum and explains the basics of play-based learning in layman’s terms. This is a great source for my IP because it includes tip sheets on how parents can back up the learning students are doing in class with strategies at home.
Waterloo Region District School Board. 2012. Kindergarten in Action.
This page on the Waterloo Region District School Board, while not a scholarly article, is helpful for my IP because it lists the strategies that are recommended to kindergarten teachers in the board. It lists specific centres that are present in kindergarten rooms and the typical experiences of play happening in classrooms.
Webcasts for Educators Student Achievement Division. (2011). Kindergarten Matters Intentional Play-
Based Learning. http://resources.curriculum.org/secretariat/kindergarten/index.html
This series of webcasts created by the Ontario Ministry of Education show play-based learning in practice, including assessment and observation strategies. The videos are helpful for my IP because they outline how play-based learning translates to actual practice. While I wish the videos were longer and more detailed, they do a good job outlining play as inquiry and how the most important skill gained from a play-based focus is self-regulation. My research has made me more comfortable with the concept of play based learning. Changes in teaching trends and practices can sometimes be overwhelming and put a lot of pressure on teachers to stay 'current'. What was a nice surprise when doing the research is that play based learning has been a focus for a long time though it may not have been stated as such. So, incorporating a play based learning strategy does not change everything about my practice. A literacy block in my play based classroom would start with a shared reading, students would then participate in a classroom discussion about the story, centering around the lesson focus. If the focus was retelling I would have the students act out parts of the story. Students would then have the opportunity to try different activities around the lesson focus and story in centres set up around the room. This may include: arts centre (creating scenes from the story, masks for the characters, etc.), play dough centre (creating dioramas of key scenes), drama centre (acting out scenes), sand centre (tracing letters in the books title). I would end the block with a community circle where students could share what they did. Results