Why play in the kindergarten classroom (or any classroom), you ask? Well, put simply, I regularly see how play captivates my students and stimulates language learning and growth (for examples of kindergarten outcomes evident during play, click here). I have witnessed, first hand, a cardboard box in my dramatic play area become a pirate ship and my ELL students transform into the captain and crew. As they “hoist the Jolly-Roger” and to “set sail on the seven seas” in search of their treasure, their interest in learning the desired language to enact their story is apparent. It only takes hearing “Arrrr” “Land ahoy!” or “Shiver me timbers!” once before it has become part of the common language used regularly while playing in our classroom.
But can play be more than that? At a recent PD session where we watched a video from the Galileo Network’s Website and looked at Stuart Brown’s seven patterns of play, I began to reflect on the the play that happens daily in my classroom and how it could help develop an even deeper understandings of the world around us. I began to look not only at the materials that are readily available but also how the classroom environment could foster certain types of play, curiosity and exploration. I became intrigued by the Reggio Emilia Approach and giving my classroom more of a “Reggio” feeling. And that, my friends, is where my classroom remodel, begins. Stay-tuned for the big reveal.