Play is one of five contexts for learning in the Early Years Curriculum.
The others being –
Routines and Transitions
Real Life Experiences
Focussed Teaching and Learning
Play can also be a pedagogy, a way of teaching that encourages learning through active participation.
So what does active participatory learning mean?
Anne Epstein from Highscope defines it as –
- experiences based on the children’s interests
- experiences that are hands on and linked to real life situations
- children actively constructing their understandings
- by making choices children are involved in problem solving and decision making both necessary skills for learning
- adults acting as guides and facilitators of the learning
- adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions.
What does a play pedagogy look like in a prep classroom?
We have been involved in castle play for the last 3 week. What do you think this would look like?
How it all began…….. Some of the children constructed a castlein block area using the waffle blocks
Some of the children decided they wanted to be kings and queens in the castle and made crowns.
To encourage thinking and problem solving the children are not given templates for these ideas (ie crown making) and need to work out how to make the crowns using prior knowledge and to seek help if they need it.
Through this philosophy of designing and creating what they need themselves, the children develop lots of skills and understandings and view themselves as competant and capable. When making their crowns the children are enhancing measurement concepts and practicing lots of fine motor skills as well as using their imagination.
Several of the girls decided they wanted to get married in the castle. One of the girls made a wedding cake.
During Reflection Time, at the end of play time, the children said they were going to have a wedding. We brainstormed everything they knew about weddings.
The next day, wedding preparations began with the brides and grooms researching dress, suit and bow tie designs.
Research Learning Statements – Reading and Viewing, Writing and Shaping, Oral Language
Designs were drawn. Design Learning Statements – Imagining and Responding, Writing and Shaping
The brides also consulted with our Dress Designer who had compiled a book of suggested designs and accessories.
Consultation Learning Statements – Social and Personal Learning, Oral Language, Thinking, Reading and Viewing
When the final design was decided upon, production of each dress began.
Production Learning Statements – Investigating Technology, Fine Motor Skills, Thinking
During production, fittings were needed.
Fitting Learning Statements – Early Maths Understandings, Thinking, Oral Language
Is it too big?
Is it too small?
Is it too long?
Is it too short?
One of the brides wanted sleeves in her dress. This was a challenge for everyone and required lots of thinking and problem solving.
The design –
The Wedding Dress almost finished.
Some of the brides decided they wanted lace on their dresses and a new industry appeared in the classroom – lace making.
Lace Making Learning Statements – Imagining and Responding, Fine Motor skills, Thinking, Social and Personal Learning
The designer and lace maker consulting on where the lace needs to be placed and if anymore is required.
One dress finished. It even has a designer label on it.
Whilst the brides were busy with their dresses, the grooms were also busy making their wedding attire.
This groom is wearing his Knight helmet and shield. As well as his designer tie.
This groom asked his father for his favourite tie because he like sailing boats.
Weddings fit into the Understanding Cultural Diversity learning statement of our curriculum. To enhance our knowledge of
weddings we explored wedding customs from several other cultures including –
New Zealand Weddings –
and Indian Weddings
This exploration of weddings in other cultures inspired one of our brides to design a one shouldered red wedding dress.
This design needed to be altered because we didn’t have any red fabric to make the dress and the bride decided to have a white
dress with red rubies instead.
The bride and dress designer decided a row of square rubies were needed on the bodice of the dress.
For the skirt, the bride elected to scrunch the rubies up for a 3D effect.
and place them randomly around the skirt.
Knight Helmets were a popular choice of headwear for the grooms with this groom designing a special wedding knight helmet to
wear to his wedding.
“It is high like a wedding hat” he told me.
Here are some of our grooms/knights guarding the classroom door in the “regular” helmets and armour.
In another area of the classroom our florists had begun making the colourful paper for the flowers that will go into the wedding
bouquets. They used their prior knowledge of making butterflies using paper towels and eye droppers to make the paper
and with the help of our teacher aide they used pipe cleaners to fold the paper into flowers (just like we had made our
butterflies) and joined them together for the bouquets.
With the whole class enthusiastically preparing for the wedding, our castle builders discovered a problem.
The castle was too small to fit in all of the bridal parties and the wedding guests. What were we going to do? Could we still have the
wedding? Does anyone have any ideas?
Tomorrow I will post the solution and the rest of the lecture. Linking this learning to the National Curriculum.