This article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children does an extensive job of outlining the importance of mature make-believe play in creating a learning environment not present in other classroom engagements. Activities shouldn't be something extra for teachers to do, nor should it be added for pure entertainment value. These authors suggest safeguarding play as it's critical to your instruction and offers valuable benefit to children’s development.
Play-dough is often found in early childhood centers. As you will see in this selection, interactions with play-dough can offer fun and enjoyment for young kids and provide active learning experiences that support children’s growth and development. Using play-dough, early childhood goals can be addressed, observed, and evaluated while tapping into other areas of development. Learn how to incorporate play-dough in your classroom in an engaging, meaningful, and creative way.
Recess is less common in today’ schools. Don’t you remember recess as your favorite part of the school day? You could manage your own activity, enjoy the playground equipment, and you were free to engage with friends. Today, students are less likely to go outside. With increased obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, teachers are worried about students. Through this selection, read about physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional benefits outdoor play offers students of all ages.
While you might invest time to make these activities more educational, this resource offers 30 games you can play with your students outside. The games described are 'no-tech' activities, and you'll probably recognize them from when you were a kid. Some can be accomplished inside, but most of the games are geared for the outdoors and should be implemented with a group. Many of the games will sound familiar to you like Red Light - Green Light, Simon Says, Hopscotch, and Red Rover.
This 3-minute video, created by 2nd Nature Academy School along with Nature's Pathways Early Childhood Center, illustrates the benefits of spending time with your students outdoors. It takes a scientific approach to its argument on outdoor play as it shows how outdoor activity is critical to the health and development of every child.
This packet, put together by Heartland Area Educational Agency, outlines strategies for maintaining effective outdoor play for your class. It describes activities and games you can implement using simple items like balls, balloons, bean bags, and hula hoops. One of the ideas I found particularly helpful was a reminder to spend time modeling expected outdoor skills and behavior. Like any other skill set, we can't assume students know how to interact outside in a safe and respectful way.
In 2010, the Minnesota Legislature reviewed benefits of recess. This resulted in the “Healthy Kids Bill”, aimed to improve the health, learning, and physical activity of their students. To help schools meet this law’s standards, Recess Moves was created. Review this resource as it gives examples of quality recess activity and practice. Since recess is vital to physical, academic, and socio-emotional development, this toolkit can maximize recess time and children’s learning during the school day.