Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why There Is No "Climber" in my Play-Based Playground

Now this is kindergarten readiness!! 

In this short 45 second video, two of our soon-to-be kindergarteners demonstrate their ability 
  • to build body awareness, strength, and coordination through locomotion activities
  • to build awareness of directionality and position in space
  • to use both sides of the body to strengthen bilateral coordination
  • to build upper body strength and stability to gain controlled movement of shoulders
  • to use eye-hand coordination, visual perception and tracking, and visual motor skills in play activities
  • to create and articulate a plan in sequence
  • to engage in activities that build understanding of words for location and direction
  • to use imaginative thought to create something of their own design
  • to represent their ideas symbolically
  • to work together collaboratively
  • to listen to the ideas of others and be flexible in negotiations
  • to teach a younger classmate a new skill
  • to demonstrate empathy and compassion for a classmate
  • to assess and modify risk
  • to discuss strategies to prevent injury
  • to talk about ways to solve or prevent problems and discuss situations that illustrate that actions have consequences
  • to explore and identify space, direction, movement, relative position, and size using body movement and concrete objects
  • to listen to and use comparative words to describe the relationships of objects to one another
  • to use mathematical thinking to estimate size, distance and mass
  • to make predictions about changes in materials or objects based on past experience.
  • to manipulate a wide variety of familiar and unfamiliar objects to observe, describe, and compare their properties using appropriate language.
  • to understand the physics of a lever and the impact of adjusting the fulcrum
  • and to work and learn cooperatively, constructing knowledge together.

Many of these criteria are included in the Massachusetts Department of Education's Early Childhood Program Standards and the Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences. According to this document: "the mark of a superior teacher is the ability to select materials and interact with children in ways that help them learn through their own play and these planned activities. Young children need many and varied opportunities to: 
■ Plan: children consider what they are going to do with materials and how they are going to do it. 
■ Play: children use materials and equipment in ways that best suit their personal curiosity and understanding. 
■ Reflect: children recall things that happened to them, reinforcing or questioning their understandings. 
■ Revisit: children practice skills and replay experiences in many different ways, with each activity refining or modifying previous learning. 
■ Connect: children, with the help of staff, connect new knowledge with past experiences, creating links among subject areas and areas of skill development."

We found when we took our climber out of our playground, the children's play became more creative and complex. The challenges to the children's motor development, their language, their mathematical and scientific thinking and their social interactions became greater when we removed the climber and replaced it with loose parts of all kinds. Now the children dictate their own play instead of being dictated by an immovable, fixed structure that dominates the play space.

These children have accomplished all of this in just 45 seconds! Imagine what they can do in 45 minutes! And beyond! The power of play!

1 comment:

  1. Someone asked "what do you have on the playground now that the climber is gone?" Here's a peek -