Play in the classroom isn’t just for preschool. During the AAP webinar “Why We Should Put Play Back into the Classroom Experience,” Scott Traylor, CEO and ChiefKid for 360KID, talked about how elements of playful learning support 21st century skills such as collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking across all grade levels. More important, with playful lessons students are typically more invested in the learning process and more likely to recall information learned months later. However, due to the involved nature of developing playful experiences, there are some challenges bringing this style into the classroom. Publishers, though, can build in tools to help teachers and students make the most of the experience.
- Combining multiple learning goals into a role play event that could take one or two classes to carry out – teachers need to be ready to devote class time to the lesson and should be informed up front how long the lesson will take.
- Cross disciplinary content – play can easily cross into different subjects areas, but the core subjects can be siloed in schools. Provide potential cross-discipline objectives teachers can share with each other to help start the conversation.
- Understanding of students – while it can be good to push students out of their comfort zone, there needs to be room in the lesson to accommodate different student personalities and comfort levels with the play experience.
- Classroom or other facilities available – when developing playful lessons, be aware that not all teachers will have access to the same resources and space. Provide options.
- Teacher buy in – if the teacher doesn’t believe in the set-up, the kids won’t buy into either. Provide teachers with the research and support they need to understand how the activity will benefit their students.
- Daily summative assessments – provide teachers with a framework for making observations they can use to assess student progress, especially on the skills like creativity that won’t be measured on most standardized tests.
- Calling back what was learned – the challenge is to create multiple playful experiences that teachers can use throughout the year that build on skills learned in previous experiences.
Scott’s final piece of advice was for publishers to encourage feedback from teachers. Educators may discover an unexpected use for the playful lessons, and publishers would be wise to include that in future iterations.