This year I am trying to utilize the time kids have for working together, sharing,
communicating and problem solving in authentic situations. The kids have opportunities at recess and free choice play but I am often not available to guide them through problems that arise. When they need help it is often too late for me to ask kids to model for other kids how to use their words and take turns or to even help resolve situations. So this year I have integrating a structured play time in between reading and writing workshops. I have structured the play areas so that I initially decide what is played with, who plays where, and how many kids can play at certain area for the first few weeks. I explained to the kids that I want them to have a chance to play with different toys and different friends so that they feel comfortable with our stuff and each other.
Some of the ideas that I am using for play areas are toys the kids enjoyed in K (after consulting my friend Maureen), dramatic play items I have brought from home, letters/pictures and tangible word manipulatives that I will build learning with later and ideas that amazing teachers like Scott at Brick by Brick have inspired me to try. So far the kids have been loving it.
This week I introduced the play areas with Can I Play Too by Mo Willems? We talked
about how Elephant and Piggie are the type of friends who make sure everyone is included.This set the tone for kids to play in small groups. Some of them played side by side on Monday, but today I saw
one group ( at the animals and blocks area) create a zoo and each person contributed to the building today.
Other kids were loving the straws and connectors. These toys (thanks Maureen) are a favorite. Kids created drums, fishing poles and buildings with these simple pieces.
I found some alphabet beads and bought some plastic line from United Art and Ed to createan ABC play area. The line allowed each kid a place to house their letters and I gathered so much information about what kids knew about letter and words in a short period of play time. For example, one little girl started creating words she knew but many of the letters that she had to manipulate onto the line were placed backward. Other kids just wanted to string a bunch of letters and ask if they created a word. One little one asked for my picture and word cards so that she could copy words correctly. I gathered lots of informal data through play.
Tomorrow is our fourth day of school and I can't wait to see what they create next!