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Play-based learning in Full-Day Kindergarten

Children who are given the opportunity to learn through play in a combination of child-guided and adult-guided activities benefit by gaining rich, authentic learning.

Christine Guerriero

on 22 March 2014

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Transcript of Play-based learning in Full-Day Kindergarten

is an important way to give students the skills required for

The benefits are numerous and the ability for students to learn in their



is natural. As educators there are a wealth of resources at our disposal to consider when setting up for play.

Play - A child's vehicle for learning
multiple opportunities for social interactions
low risk
flexible groupings
zone of proximal development (child and teacher guided)
problem solving
authentic learning / learning by doing
engaging - helps with self regulation if materials and space are carefully considered
opportunities to practice literacy and numeracy in authentic contexts
tailored to student interests and needs
can easily incorporate other inquiries going on in the room to create consistency and the chance to transfer new knowledge
many opportunities for teachers to observe and extend student thinking
tap into kids natural curiosity for the world around them
kids use what they know - gives them a starting point and clearly illustrates their prior knowledge for the teacher to build on
Benefits of Play

When setting up for child-guided play, educators must:
consider student's background knowledge
select interesting materials
leave enough space appropriate for potential play
allow time for play to unfold and develop
reduce limits / restrictions (eg. # of students at a centre)
Child-Guided Play
Some examples...
For the dramatic play area:
Set up a

Students have most likely been there with parents and know what is served
Have different size cups and lids (dollar store has some too but I would ask Timmies for a donation first!)
Include playdough and containers so that students could make treats
Students should be involved in creating the space (eg, signs, labels, register, money, etc.)
They may even ask about a drive thru window!



Chances are most student have just shopped for new shoes for school so this experience should be fresh on their minds
Gather an assortment of shoe boxes (ask department stores or parents for donations)
Raid lost and found, your house, or thrift stores for a good assortment of shoes and sizes
Provide different tools for measuring feet
Tables and shelves for displaying shoes, chairs and mirrors for trying them on
Price tags, cash register and receipt paper
Bags and tissue for wrapping shoes up
Shoe horns, fancy laces to add some fine motor
Select open-ended materials to 'jazz up' basic centres and activites
Use sticks, wood slices, wood chips, etc. as building material instead of commercial blocks
Add fake flowers, gems, popsicle sticks, etc. to the building centre
Provide large chart paper, blueprints, graph paper, construction pencils (those cool flat ones!), safety goggles, hard hats (if you can sanitize them!), and clipboards for inspiring writing
Don't be afraid if students want to combine materials from a different tub or area in the room!
imaginative and creative use of materials
application of prior knowledge
social interaction and possibly role playing
problem solving and brainstorming
self regulation
enjoyment and excitement
wondering and questioning
transference of skills
extension of knowledge
authentic writing, reading and math practice
Some 'look fors'...
In adult-guided play, the role of the educator is to:
prompt, question for deeper understanding
add or take away material to change the intention of the activity
join in the play to model or extend thinking
'parachute in' to target students and provide a mini lesson through the use of materials or social situation
suggest ways of recording thinking
encourage students to try something new
Adult-Guided Play
For example...
At the Shoe Store...
be a customer
tell students you are looking for shoes that are size _ to check their understanding of number recognition, measurement (too big, too small), procedure from their experience ('First I need to measure your feet!')
or just ask them if they can help you find a pair of shoes and see what they will do
pick out a pair that don't fit and ask if you can buy those to see what they will say
provide guidance if they are not understanding
try being the store employee to model what the job is all about if students need more information before trying by themselves
At the light table...
you observe students creating a game out of coloured gems
your math focus of late has been number sense but you are not seeing this concept explicitly in their play
'parachute in' and ask them to explain their game
offer dice and ask them if they could use it to help make the rules clearer
ways to extend their thinking
ways to change the intention of their play without taking over
opportunities to enter into conversations with students
opportunities to address next steps in your data for individual or small groups of students
ways to help students to use a natural approach to enhancing social skills
subtle ways to introduce new materials or centres
Some 'Look fors'...
Students need to be able to independently apply themselves sometimes with no pressure of expectations
We have to trust that children will learn even if we are not directing them or giving them the answers
We also need to ensure that curriculum expectations are being met and that progress is being made by all students
We can use play as a means of providing additional information and skills to students
It is important to have both child-guided and teacher-guided play
To read more about using the classroom environment as the third teacher to support play-based learning please follow the link below:
Resources, resources, resources...
There are so many useful and inspiring resources out there. I take my ideas from
books, websites, blogs, photos
other experts
in the field. In order to keep all of these wonderful resources handy I use
. I have created a
pinterest board for inquiry and play-based learning
that contains a wealth of ideas that I have used and many more that I will implement in future years. Please follow the link below so that I can share these resources with you!
Created by Christine Guerriero
Ministry of Education. (2010). The Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program: Draft Version. Queen's Printer for Ontario.
ETFO. (2010). Thinking it Through: Literacy and the Young Child. Toronto: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. (2003). Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children REALLY Learn and Why They
Need to Play More and Memorize Less. USA. Rodale.
DeViney, J., Duncan, S., Harris, S., Rody, M., & Rosenberry, L. (2010). Inspiring Spaces for Young Children. Gryphon House.
Curtis, D., & Carter, M. (2003). Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments. Redleaf.
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