Behind the Blog

Behind the Blog
My name is Cindy Kruse and I've been learning from elementary students for the past 16 years. I enjoy discovering new technology and implementing it in the classroom, absolutely love literacy, and am passionate about Responsive Classroom. I am constantly striving to learn new and innovative ways to teach students in order to provide authentic, interesting, and joyful classrooms.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Designed to play!

During the "Sharing" portion of our daily "Morning Meeting" today I challenged my students to reflect on their weekend and then fill in the blank with a verb.  "This weekend I ______ed."  While it was a bit challenging for my 4th and 5th graders to stick to one verb (they all wanted to add more details), we managed to gather some fascinating data which fueled an interesting discussion.  More than 90% of my students responded with, "This weekend I played!"  We had fun asking specific questions to reveal more interesting details of our weekend adventures, however the discussions that followed were the most interesting...Is it important to play?  Can we learn from playing?  If so, what can we learn?  Most importantly, how can we incorporate play in our instructional settings? 

If indeed we can learn from playing, then...why isn't there time to play in school?  I had a hard time suppressing a smile because that very question was the topic in the teacher's lounge among the kindergarten teachers during lunch earlier.  However, I need to be honest...I was contemplating "the importance of play" this weekend myself, so I confess to "setting up" the conversations.  I was eager to hear what the kids and teachers had to say on this topic.  I wasn't surprised by any of their discussions.  

I began to investigate my thoughts on this topic after I watched this video of a little boy named Caine that turned "play" into quite an exciting learning experience.  After watching the video, I'm sure that you too will recognize the importance of play.  

This subject has been the discussion of many psychologists and education gurus.  Research points to these facts:  humans are designed to play (those that don't play have serious mental issues), however the amount of time we spend playing has decreased since 1970.  A revealing study of gifted children (the Terman Study) concluded that those who play actually live longer.   It is believed that "play" is credited with building those all important executive function skills.  Executive function includes the ability to organize, plan, pay attention and remember details, and the ability to self-regulate (use self-control). 

So what are we waiting for?  Parents, teachers, and all those that wish for joyful learning experiences in the classroom and home...let the play begin!