At Heights Cooperative Preschool, we believe in the educational power of play! We do not separate our curriculum into discrete blocks of time for math, language, etc. Rather, children learn about themselves and the world around them through investigation and discovery, and through art, dramatic play, and social interactions.
Important areas such as literacy and numeracy development are introduced and woven through all activities. Research shows that children learn best through play, using their bodies in active learning. We provide many learning opportunities through meaningful play. But what is play-based learning?
What Is Play-Based Learning?
Play-based learning is a teaching method that focuses on the use of games and play to help children learn. It has been shown to be an effective way to engage children in class, improve their academic performance, and even decrease levels of stress.
Play-based learning methods work by immersing children in the material they are being taught. This can be done through game-based activities, which help to stimulate children’s interest in the subject matter, or through hands-on activities that give them a real-life experience with the material.
In a preschool setting, for example, teachers may use play to introduce new concepts such as numbers or letters. By playing together, children learn the skills needed to understand the information being presented.
Why Is Play-Based Learning So Effective?
There are a number of reasons why play-based learning is an effective method of education.
First, play is a natural way for children to learn. When they are engaged in fun activities that relate to the material they are being taught, they are more likely to remember what they have learned.
Second, play fosters creativity and imagination. By allowing children to explore and experiment with new ideas, they are more likely to come up with new solutions to problems. This type of thinking is essential for problem-solving skills and for learning HOW things work.
Third, play helps children build social skills. By playing together, children learn how to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively. They also learn how to cooperate and share resources (such as toys or materials). These skills can be used in everyday life, as well as in school settings where teamwork is required.
Fourth, play provides children with a sense of accomplishment. When they achieve something positive through play-based learning activities, it can boost their confidence and self-esteem. This kind of positive reinforcement can help them stay motivated throughout the learning process.
Play-Based Learning in the Classroom
There are a number of ways to incorporate play-based learning in the classroom. In our classrooms at Heights Cooperative Preschool, we have designated spaces for students to learn in many different ways.
For circle time, students gather together for stories, songs, and other engaging activities. In a cozy corner, one or two students at a time can take a quiet break and enjoy a book or toy. Our classrooms also incorporate dramatic play spaces, including real-life models such as a kitchen and table, a store, and other environments where children can model what they have seen adults do in daily life.
Many of our students aren't reading books yet, but our early literature spaces include letters and words for children to practice with in fun ways. Incorporating loose parts and blocks gives the children an opportunity to create their own games and rules, teach those games to other students, and play together without being limited by pre-designed game rules.
Sensory areas help students get to know different materials and sensations, and can be extremely soothing and self-regulating! And creativity is also a great way for kids to explore learning through play, when they can see the result of mixing paint colors or using different types of craft materials.
How to Choose the Right Games and Activities for Students
There are a number of factors we take into account when choosing play-based learning games and activities for our students. These include their level of development, prior knowledge, and interests.
1. Level of Development. Certain activities are better suited for older students, while others are more appropriate for younger students. For example, activities that require working with numbers or letters may be better for 3rd or 4th grade students, while a game about making ice cream might be more appropriate for pre-kindergarteners.
2. Prior Knowledge. It's important to choose games and activities that challenge your students without overwhelming them with too much information at once. For example, a game about counting to 20 can be a great introduction to counting, but it might be too difficult for kids who haven't learned their numbers yet.
3. Interests and Hobbies. One of the best ways to engage your students is to find out what their interests and hobbies are! This way, you can find games and activities that align with those interests and help them learn in a fun way!
If you're not sure which games and activities are best for your class, check out our online resource library. In there, you'll find a variety of play-based learning games and activities that can help you enhance your students' learning experience.
How to Encourage Children To Participate In Play-Based Learning Sessions
One of the best ways to encourage children to participate in play-based learning sessions is to make them feel comfortable. This means providing them with the right environment and making sure that the games and activities are easy to follow.
We encourage children to participate in play-based learning sessions by:
Play-Based Learning is at Your Fingertips
In this article, we've discussed how play-based learning can be used in the classroom to enhance learning and engagement. We've also provided tips on how to choose games and activities that are suitable for students, how to encourage them to participate, and how to make the sessions as comfortable as possible.
By implementing play-based learning into the classroom, we can improve engagement and enhance student learning. Overall, play-based learning is a great way to engage students and help them learn more effectively. By using the tips provided in this article, you can even create dynamic and fun sessions at home that will have a positive impact on your children’s learning!
Dramatic play is a form of child development that helps children learn how to be creative, express themselves and connect with others. It can also be used as therapy for children who are struggling with emotions or behavior issues. Our classrooms at Heights Cooperative Preschool feature dramatic play centers where students can play out and model real-life experiences in the home, while shopping, and more.
What Is Dramatic Play?
Dramatic play is a type of fun that helps kids learn how to be creative and express themselves. It helps them connect with others and develop their skills in problem solving, communication, and critical thinking. We include dramatic play in our classrooms but it's also extremely easy to set up dramatic play opportunities for children at home to continue their education.
Why It's Important For Children To Practice Drama
Dramatic play is important because it helps children learn how to regulate their emotions and behavior. It can also help them develop social and communication skills.
The benefits of dramatic play for children include:
Frequent dramatic play can help kids prepare for later schooling and life experiences. It's a great way to boost their self-esteem and encourage them to try new things.
Dramatic Play at Home
There's no need to be an expert to get started with dramatic play. In fact, you can set up dramatic play opportunities for your children in just a few minutes. You'll just need some props and some imagination.
You may want to continue this important aspect of play at home by setting up a dramatic play space in your home, inviting family and friends over to act out stories, or buying/building playsets that include different activities like cooking, shopping, gardening, or going to school. Our classrooms at Heights Cooperative Preschool are designed specifically for dramatic play so your child will have plenty of opportunities to explore his or her creative side while developing social skills, but the play doesn't have to end when the school day does!
Be creative with your props and set up situations that challenge your child's abilities. This will help keep their interest high. And always let them know that they can always tell you if they're feeling overwhelmed or if they need some time off from the play activity.
You can also use dramatic play as a fun way to explore your child's interests and teach important life skills at the same time! You can take advantage of opportunities that arise throughout the day; for example, when you’re cooking dinner, you could have your child act out the different steps in the recipe. Or, when you’re doing laundry together, you could have them role-play different scenarios from their day. The possibilities are endless.
What Activities Are Best For Your Child When Playing Dramatic Play?
There is no one definitive answer to this question, as the types of activities your child enjoys playing will vary depending on their age and interests. However, some common activities that can be used in dramatic play include:
How To Encourage Creative Thinking In Your Child Through Dramatic Play
Studies have shown that dramatic play is one of the most important activities for children during their development. It helps them learn how to think creatively, problem solve, and communicate.
So why is this so important? For one thing, it helps your child develop empathy and understanding for others. They will also learn how to take charge of their own life by practicing problem-solving skills. In addition, dramatic play can help young children learn how to emotionally express themselves.
If you're looking for ways to encourage creative thinking in your child through dramatic play, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure you provide opportunities for your child to explore different scenarios and settings. This way, they will have plenty of opportunities to practice thinking on their feet and come up with creative ideas. Second, be sure to praise your child when they come up with innovative solutions to challenges or when they exhibit strong communication skills during roleplaying sessions.
By following these tips, you can help your child practice dramatic play safely and get the most out of this important developmental skill!
Many early childhood teachers are choosing to use emergent curriculum (including our teachers at Heights Cooperative Preschool!) to engage children in age-appropriate learning. What is emergent curriculum and how does it work?
The Emergent Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
An emergent curriculum is a type of learning curriculum that allows children to explore and learn on their own, rather than following a set path or instruction. This type of curriculum is designed to allow students to explore new concepts and skills on their own, in their own time and in their own way.
This type of curriculum can be used in early childhood settings, such as daycare centers, pre-kindergarten classrooms (like Heights!), and playgroups. By allowing children to explore on their own, emergent curriculums are seen as more engaging and effective learning tools. This type of curriculum is best suited for children who are learning to develop their own skills and knowledge, rather than following a set curriculum. Emergent curricula are often used in early childhood education programs, as they allow children to explore different areas of learning on their own terms. This allows them to learn more easily and quickly, which is important for developing critical thinking skills.
The concept of Emergent Curriculum was developed by Elizabeth Jones, who first began working with children in a university lab preschool where she and other adults observed children's play in a designated and designed space. She said, "These two focuses - creating the physical environment and studying the child - characterized the development of early childhood education in the first half of the twentieth century."
She also described the way "Curriculum emerges from the play of children and the play of teachers. It is co-constructed by the children and the adults and the environment itself...The process is naturally individualized."
How Does the Emergent Curriculum Work?
By allowing children to explore on their own, emergent curriculums are seen as more engaging and effective learning tools. Compared to standardized education we've become familiar with, how does emergent curriculum teach children and encourage mastery and retention of new information?
First, The teacher provides a general overview of what they would like the child to learn about, but leaves more room for children to explore on their own. Children are given a variety of materials and tools to help them learn the material at their own pace. At Heights Cooperative Preschool, we offer students multiple designated spaces, each encouraging a different kind of play.
Emergent Curriculum isn't hands-off! The teachers monitor the children's progress but also allow them space to figure things out for themselves.
Benefits of Using an Emergent Curriculum
Emergent curriculum in early childhood education allows children to be involved in the learning process, and thus more engaged. This type of curriculum allows for more independence and creativity in the children, which encourages children to explore on their own. Additionally, this type of curriculum is seen as more engaging because it allows for more creative play. Finally, emergent curriculums are often more cost-effective than traditional curriculums because they do not require as many hours of instruction per week.
Some additional benefits of using an emergent curriculum include:
More active learning: With no set instruction or routine, children learn actively, by choice. This type of learning is seen as more engaging for the child, who is able to focus on the material being taught instead of being stuck within a classroom setting. Emergent curriculum eliminates boredom and offers students a sense of control in their learning environment.
Better problem-solving skills: Emergent curriculums require children to think on their feet and solve problems they encounter throughout the course of the lesson. This type of thinking is seen as key for success later on in life, both academically and professionally.
Increased creativity: By allowing students to explore without limits, emergent curriculums foster creativity and innovation. Children are able to come up with new ideas on their own, rather than following a set pattern or model.
Challenges with Implementing an Emergent Curriculum
Though the benefits of using an emergent curriculum are numerous, there are also a few challenges that need to be considered when implementing this type of instruction. For example, some families may find it difficult to adjust to a classroom environment without a set schedule or routine. Additionally, some teachers may not be familiar with how to implement an emergent curriculum, leading to confusion and frustration among students. However, by taking the time to research and understand the advantages and disadvantages of emergent learning, any obstacles can be overcome.
Our staff is dedicated to Emergent Curriculum, and we encourage our students' guardians to become familiar with Emergent Curriculum and play-based learning by participating in school activities and reviewing our resource page!
Examples of Emergent Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
There are many styles of Emergent Curriculum that you may have heard of. They each bring their own merits and benefits for students!
1. Creative Curriculum
The Creative Curriculum is a flexible and adaptable educational framework that allows for children to explore and learn on their own. This curriculum is based on the belief that children are natural explorers who want to learn at their own pace, which is why it emphasizes hands-on learning experiences and creative activities.
Some examples of activities that can be included in the Creative Curriculum include: making art, playing games, creating stories, and experimenting with new materials.
2. The We Love Learning! Method
The We Love Learning! Method is a creative classroom framework that emphasizes play-based learning. This approach was developed by John Stevens in the 1970s, and it has since been widely adopted by teachers around the world. The We Love Learning! Method focuses on providing children with opportunities to explore their world through play, social interaction, and problem-solving skills.
Some examples of activities that can be included in the We Love Learning! Method include: playing tag or hopscotch together, painting with watercolors or crayons, making pizzas from scratch, and building towers out of LEGO bricks.
3. The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is a traditional educational approach that was developed by Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. This method focuses on teaching children through individualized instruction in a calm and distraction-free environment. Montessori students learn by observing and manipulating objects around them, which helps them develop critical thinking skills and an understanding of abstract concepts.
Some examples of activities that can be included in the Montessori Method include: sorting different types of rocks into groups according to shape or color, folding origami paper into complicated designs, measuring distances using sandcastles or measuring cups, playing catch using soft balls instead of baseballs, and baking cakes from scratch using simple ingredients like sugar or flour.
At Heights Cooperative Preschool, you can trust that your students are learning and having fun every day, thanks to our amazing team of educators and the framework of the Emergent Curriculum. Visit our resources page to learn more!