Global School Play Day 2017

I was so excited to find out about Global School Play Day 2015 right before it happened.  It was the first one ever and my class helped inaugurate the new tradition!  For some reason (I’m not sure why except that maybe I just forgot??) we didn’t participate last year.  This time around I was ready, and even got some other Robinson friends to join in, too!

Last time around I wrote a really long (but great!) post about all the things I thought we learned from our play, and while that was all true and good, this post will be more about what we actually did.  There are some great stories, pictures and videos to share, and yes, indeed, also learning. 🙂

Ok…so we started our GSPD 2017 with our normal easel question.  Sometimes it’s math, sometimes it’s writing, sometimes it’s review of something else.  Today it was a question about the day:

I really wanted them to get the idea that while it would definitely be a FUN day, it would also be a day where they would indeed be learning something.  I hoped this would focus their minds on that idea and help them see the opportunities in a new way.

After we got through our morning announcements and the pledge, I had everyone gather on our rug for a meeting to start our day. We talked about the answers they had put on the easel question, and I also gave them an idea for what they could expect ME to be doing throughout the day.  We talked about ways that I like to play–with words, puzzles, drawing, painting (this is a new love for me since we had our experience with Figy earlier this year!), teaching new games (we have many on our game shelves that kiddos have never played!), or just kid-watching.  I started with the whole word play piece by sharing a few books I had found in the library that morning.  We couldn’t let a day go by with out books for our #classroombookaday challenge, could we?

Some were songs, all were rhymes and many of them had directions that the listeners had to follow.  We read them throughout the day and it was a LOT OF FUN!

Kiddos have been invited to bring along a toy or game, with the directions that it had to fit in their backpack, or they had to be able to carry it up on their own.  Also, it could not be electronic.

Before we got into the actual business of the day, we set the guidelines–because of course, just since the day was different, that didn’t mean there weren’t still rules. 🙂

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Then we got busy. 🙂

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It was so fun to watch how the morning unfolded.  Kiddos started with playing with their toys, and then quickly began MAKING things for their toys or inspired by their toys.  We noticed that no one chose to play with Legos; we inferred that it was because that’s a “normal” thing we always have and today kiddos wanted to play with their “home” toys.

I was impressed by their creativity and was super excited when Aadish and Allie suggested that we should have an art parade to share all the things they were making!

The parade planners announced on the microphone that we would be having a parade at the end of the day, and that anyone who wanted to join in could do so by making something.  Pretty simple.  A problem quickly arose when Rachel realized she had to leave early to go to the dentist and she would have to miss our parade.  I suggested she talk to A and A and see what they could figure out.  The three decided we could add another parade, and do one after lunch as well as one later in the day.  Super first grade problem solving, eh?

At one point I’m pretty sure the whole recycling station (which is usually housed in the hall) was in our classroom, as kiddos created instruments, costumes (elephants were popular!), and many Star Wars related items.  They were SO EXCITED and as we got back in from lunch and recess, we lined up for our first parade of the day.

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Oh wait–there were even flags!  I had forgotten about that!  Such first grade festiveness! 🙂

Isn’t that about the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?  Not yet?  Ok, check out this one:

After this we went to specials (like a normal day) and came back to finish up anything we wanted to add or redesign for the second part of the parade.  What I loved was hearing so many friends that were thinking about how they were going to improve their art/instrument/ship/costume for the second time around.  It was definitely not in the plan for this day to include engineering design challenges, but it happened and it was amazing!

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Jack had a drum for the parade that we worked to improve.  What great thinking!

Our second parade was special because it was the second one, but also because of where it went.

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Abderdeen Heights, our neighbor to the north, and a building full of amazing residents!

We took our little parade down the street (rather loudly, I should add–we had drums, remember??) and over to Aberdeen.   This had been included in our plans from earlier in the day, and another teacher suggested we just show up and see what happened.  If they had some time for us, we’d parade around inside, and if not, we’d just entertain them through the windows from the parking lot. 🙂

Well, it so happened that we got there just as our friend Ms. Cutler was getting of the bus and we told her our little plan.  She was so pleased to have us visit, and we spent the next little bit of the afternoon traveling the halls of Aberdeen, sharing our joy and first grade smiles with the residents who were available for a visit.  It was “happy hour,” and many residents were awake and allowed us to just come right on in their rooms!  Wow!  It was so much fun and definitely filled our hearts and theirs. 🙂

I think maybe my favorite picture of the day came on our walk back, as we joked that “Old Man Lemcke” had come back from Aberdeen with us.  Ciyah was his helper as they traveled back to Robinson. 🙂

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Then it got even better as they pretended that Old Man Lemcke and Old Man Carter were celebrating their 100th birthday.  Ciyah had made them a cake!  See how those candles even have flames on the tops of them?  Love it!

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After that she cut the “cake” all apart and shared pieces with the class!  She even asked me if I wanted some.  This is play at its best! 🙂

Ok, and so the best way to end a story of an amazing play day is to share what they said when I asked them what they walked away with (this was the easel question the next morning):

There are some pretty great things on that list!  What a successful LEARNING day in Rm. 202!

 

Global School Play Day 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet about Global School Play Day.  Being one who truly believes in play as an important learning tool for kids (and adults!), and being one who likes to jump in with both feet when I see something that looks like fun (like I did with World Read Aloud Day, for instance), I knew that this was something I wanted to try.  And honestly, we have choice time and recess every day anyway, so it wasn’t that far out of our norm.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 8.11.07 PMBefore the special day, I told kids to bring something they could play with during our time, but the rules were it couldn’t be electronic or have batteries.  There were a couple of “whys?” but really it wasn’t any big deal to them.  I wish I had taken a picture of all of their toys in the bucket when they brought them in, but what I thought was funny was that most everyone brought something stuffed–My Little Ponies, dogs, cats, and all other sorts of animals.  There were some cars, a couple of American Girls and 2 Barbies who attended our GSPD as well. 🙂

We reserved the afternoon for our official time, as we had some exciting and necessary work to do in the morning with our current studies in reading and math.  Before we got started with our fun, we had a little chat about why we were even doing it.  They had great ideas, like for them to learn to take care of their things, as well as how to solve problems and how to play together.  All were right, and I had some additional ideas of my own:

1. Negotiation: By participating in free play, children get to learn how and practice what it is like to initiate play with someone else, as well as negotiate with that playmate about what to do, where to do it and how to do it.  They get to learn give-and-take, as well as how to work with others in a positive way (because unfortunately, if you choose NOT to do it positively, your friend may not want to play with you anymore!).

2. Problem Solving: Much like negotiation with friends, kiddos learn and practice problem solving in many ways when they play.  From what to do when the Legos don’t go together they way you want or you don’t have enough big blocks to build your castle, or even where to put the pieces of the puzzle you’re working on, problem solving is a crucial part of play.  Even choosing what to play at any given moment is a kind of problem solving in itself.  Letting kids figure these things out for themselves helps build and encourage grit and perseverance.

3. Winning (and losing!) Graciously: Child-directed play (including playing games) allows kiddos to learn how to win–and also to lose–graciously.  We all know an adult who didn’t get the chance to learn this when they were younger, and now has such a hard time knowing what to do when things don’t go their way.  That same adult might have a really hard time not being overly proud or boastful when things do.  Allowing (or even planning for) situations where students DON’T win are crucial!  Life is not fair, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes someone else does better than you.  How great that kiddos have a chance to learn to deal with these disappointments when the stakes are low, so that when they are higher, they’ll know the appropriate choices to make.  And yes, winning is a good thing that can happen occasionally, too (and how great that kids can learn how to deal with their happiness without sacrificing the feelings of others).

4. Creativity: A big pile of paper, blocks, Legos, cars or any other open-ended toys allows for such a great development of creativity in kids!  Being able to figure out what that pile of “stuff” can become is a great practice in trial-and-error, trying new things or even working with a friend to put two great ideas together to make an even better one.  This practice of creativity in free play can easily be transferred to learning, then, when a kiddo is given open-ended opportunities for both gaining information and showing what they’ve learned.  When they’ve had a chance to try out new things and take risks in a safe, play environment, many students will be more willing to take the same creative risks with their learning.

5. Beating Boredom: I guess this one is another idea that’s related to some others on this list, but being given free time to play is a great way to figure out how to entertain yourself (either alone or with a friend) and keep a kiddo from being “bored.”  Knowing what to do when there’s [seemingly] nothing to do is a life skill, really.

6. Respect, kindness and including others: Play is a great opportunity for kiddos to practice skills they’re learning about showing others respect, using kind words and helping make sure everyone is included.  Helping kids pay attention to who doesn’t have a playmate is a lesson in empathy and is definitely a bucket-filler for a friend who longs to be involved but is perhaps unable to initiate themselves.  Knowing how to speak to others kindly is a skill that can never be mastered and can always be improved upon.

7. Fun!: Um, how have I not mentioned that playing is TOTALLY FUN!?  Yep.  Should have mentioned that one first. 🙂

8. Organization and Care: Emily was the first to mention it, and I hadn’t really thought of it until she said it, but yes, I think that kiddos can learn about and practice putting things away, organizing and caring for property (theirs and others’) when they’re playing.  Great idea, kiddo!

Ok, so enough of my rambling…I know what you really came to see were the pictures of Rm. 202 kiddos PLAYING!!  Here you go!!

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