By Teachers, For Teachers
Play is an essential part of child development, but with the Common Core State Standards being rolled out, how do we as teachers still be able to incorporate it into our high-demand day?
We have all heard it before, that play is good for your mind and body. You may have even heard that play helps children develop their social skills and improves their attention. With all of these great facts, it’s no wonder teachers are pushing for more playtime in the classroom.
If you’re looking for a few ideas to help you incorporate play into your day, we have them for you. Here’s a few fun ways to keep playtime at the forefront and not on the back burner.
Just because the Common Core State Standards are being implemented doesn’t mean that you have to put play on the back burner. Teachers have the unique opportunity to be able to be creative, and have some say on how they will present the information to their students. Use this opportunity to create fun, playful activities that correlate with the standards. Remember, play helps your students develop those essential language, social, and cognitive skills.
Learning stations are a great way to get students to play and use their imagination. They also can be linked to the Common Core State Standards as well as your curriculum. Choose a theme, and create each play station around that theme. Students will be having so much fun learning, that all they think they are doing is playing.
Oftentimes, the problem many teachers have is that they think of playtime as being non-learning. This is very far from the truth. Children demonstrate many important skills through play, skills such as problem-solving, communicating, listening, leadership and how to work together as a team. The key is to turn boring lectures into playtime. Have students make a car out of Legos and test the velocity, or build a house out of a stack or cards or a bridge out of toothpicks. Be creative and you will find you can turn any lesson into a play lesson.
If you find that you are having a hard time squeezing any play into your daily lessons, then you can designate a few hours once a week. Allow children to have fun and explore! Every Friday at the end of the day, allow time for students to have free time and play with their peers. Be sure to have dress-up clothes, puzzles, board games, balls, stuffed animals, crafts, dolls, and blocks. This is a chance for students to let loose and engage in some good, old-fashioned playtime.
Turn your classic board games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders into site words or spelling word games. Place a sticker with a word on each space and you have yourself a learning game! Be creative and think about what the Common Core wants you to teach, then take that information and apply it to an old board game.
After each lesson or activity set a timer and have students get up and play or move around for a set amount of time. Incorporating a few minutes of kinesthetic play into your day will help relives stress and stimulate your student’s brains.
Choice boards are a great way to incorporate play into your Common Core classroom. They give students a choice on how they will learn the information. Use the Common Core objectives as a guide and give students options on how they would like to learn the information. For example, if the topic was learning about Rosa Parks, students can choose to create a fun project about her, play a memory game about her life, or create a game that is centered on her accomplishments. It’s a fun, and unique way for students to learn.
Assessment doesn’t always have to be boring. Think of specific skills that you need students to learn, and create an assessment board that correlates a fun, playful activity that matches that specific skill. When your students are playing make sure to check off that they have fulfilled their requirement for that skill or learning standard.
Whether you incorporate play into your lessons, take time out once a week to play, or have a quick in-class movement break, it will all be worth it. Don’t let the Common Core scare you away from what you know is right. The Common Core does not mean all work and no play. Your classroom is your domain, you get the choice of how you want to present your information to the students. An effective, creative teacher would accomplish their objectives within developmentally appropriate playtime.
How do you incorporate play into your Common Core Classroom? Do you have any fun ideas that you would like to share? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.