Celebrating Play

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I’m participating in Ruth Ayres Celebrate This Week. Check out the link up here.

On our field trip this week, I sent my students off with vague directions to make nature art a la Andy Goldsworthy. I told them the boundary of where they could look for supplies, and where they could create their art. We brainstormed a few examples before sending them on their way: Fairy houses, designs, pictures…

I expected them to grab a few leaves, maybe some rocks and twigs. I expected them to have a little fun, maybe. I knew this was a new kind of creative activity and I just wanted them to explore the idea.

I didn’t expect them to play with the idea. I didn’t expect them drag huge fallen tree branches into the clearing.  Watching them figure out the physics of balancing these branches was something to celebrate. Watching them rise above my tiny field trip expectations was something to celebrate.

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I didn’t plan ahead of time for the amount of collaboration, introspection, and problem solving that was involved with this project. I didn’t even write objectives for this field trip activity. (Shhhh…) I did the station on the field trip because it sounded fun, and like a respite from the hike, the team building, the canoeing and the scavenger hunt

Today I’m reflecting on the activity and celebrating the play. I don’t forget that my 6th graders are kids, but sometimes we get too busy to play, and sometimes I let people and situations convince me that these kids don’t want to play. But, it’s not true. Not only do they want to play, they need to. If the play was just a break, they would still need it. If the play was just for fun, they would still need it. But it isn’t.  Play is their work, their research, their practice.

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“Play is the work of the child.”
– Maria Montessori
“Play is the highest form of research.”
– Albert Einstein
“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”
– Mr. Rogers
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8 thoughts on “Celebrating Play

  1. Play and creativity seems to be slowly replaced with coloring in circles on tests. Good for you for celebrating both with your students. They are lucky to have you!

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