Schools as Learning Playgrounds
"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning." - Diane Ackerman
In Chapter 26, Goal: Encourage Play, of The 30 Goals for Teachers, I talk about the importance of play for our learning, development, creativity, and mental wellness. With so much standardized testing and stress on data, play is being taken away. Children are being tested as early as Kindergarten.
Strive to have your learners play outdoors a few times this year. Play is important for all ages. Below is a slide presentation full of ideas for getting your students to learn and play. Scroll down to access the bookmarks.
- Host outdoor board game challenges!
- Play sports! Host a field day, an Olympics games day, or teach them different sports popular in other countries, like curling.
- Students can works in groups to invent a sport. They decide the equipment, create the rules, then teach it to the class.
- Students can study the math and physics of the slides, swings, or other playground equipment.
- They can take what they learn and apply it into building their own playgrounds. You can have local engineers and contractors mentor them.
- Students can measure their shadows at different times of the day. Get them to bring in other objects and draw what they predict the shadows will be depending on the time and location.
- Get them to test different distances and angles with their bodies playing different sports to improve their game!
- Have fun learning with chalk! Learners can draw vocabulary their peers guess, create positive messages around the school then interview students the next day to determine the impact, learn math with hopscotch, or sketch out math word problems.
- Jump rope! Many chants teach literacy, vocabulary, grammar, and math. One example is this one: “A my name is ALICE, my brother/ sister's name is AL, we live in ALABAMA and we bring back APPLES. B my name is B___, my brother/ sister's name is B___, we live in B___ and we bring back B___.”
- Geocaching is where you find little treasures around the area people create. Others find it through free apps that list hints, the longitude, and latitude. Do a school version where students hide small containers of treasure and their peers find them via their longitude and latitude.
- Play and learn with a ball! Play ball Q&A where students catch a ball and answer questions. If the students doesn’t know the answer he/she can throw the ball to another peer.
- Stick masking tape strips with icebreaker questions on a ball. Students catch the ball and answer the question touched. Then that students throws the ball to a peer.
- Makerspaces, learning stations, and genius hour projects allow students to explore hands-on and create.
- Send them on field research. In Texas, I'd take my students collecting water samples with SAWS engineers, bird watching with park rangers, fossil hunting with a paleontologist, and so forth.
- Take them on walks exploring the nature around them.They can create digital books classifying rocks, identifying bugs, naming plants and potential uses, or capturing the sounds of various birds.
- I recommend these tools and apps for creating their multimedia scrapbooks and posters- Bookcreator Canva Buncee Visme Tackk Thinglink Piktochart Biteslide Smore Glogster
- BookCreator iOS/Android App Redjumper.net/bookcreator
- Go on a scavenger hunt! Try these apps and web tools- KlikaKlu app, Goose Chase app, QRWild.com, and the Qr Treasure Hunt Generator.
- Send them on photo challenges. Get them taking pictures of fractions, vocabulary, etc. Give them digital badges for completing these challenges.
- Send them on an epic selfie adventure! Find a free template I created that your learners can adapt here.
Below are several resources I have collected about the history of PLNs, how to build a PLN, and the tools needed to build a PLN. Click on the boxes to blow the resource up.