There are many misconceptions about play based inquiries.
It has no value for learning as kids are just playing, doing whatever they want.
Play is a free for all.
Children shouldn’t play at school they do that at home.
Where are the skills of literacy and numeracy? Phonics, handwriting skills?
Play is therapy.
Play does not challenge children.
There is no accountability.
Play based approach is only for the younger children in the school.
All of the above statements are true if teachers do not guide and define expectations for children. Educators need to ENSURE the base skills and expectations are a part of the play inquiry. Therefore, keeping anecdotal notes, photographing and planning, ensure that children understand that their play inquiries have clear objectives and expectations.
The role as educators in play inquiries are:
– to plan
– to document
– to make links
– to give direction
– to help children understand and access the curriculum as outlined by the school.
Educators do this by thinking about….the literacy, numeracy and unit of inquiry links available from a child’s interest or play choice. Once skills and routines are established an educator can ensure all stations are linked to the current unit of inquiry or stand alone unit as a group of children and as individual learners. Then the links can be focused on literacy and numeracy objectives.
This can be done by expecting children to:
* draw a plan
* draw a labelled diagram
* list the resources they need
* create an advertisement
* make an invitation
* write a report, a story, a letter or a recount of their experience
* create an oral play, a role play
* record a movie
* measure a distance
* compare sizes
* list the shape traits
* count the resources
* challenge them with an addition, subtraction multiplication or division sentence linked to their project
* create problem solving questions based on their inquiry
* ensure stations/centres have defined questions or challenges linked to the unit of inquiry. Eg. If children are creating a restaurant they have to create ideas around the theme of good nutritional health, and to consider content they have gained from the unit.
BE CREATIVE! The ideas are endless.
It is vital that teachers document these inquiries and show the links to individual learning and the curriculum learning objectives.