Play-Based Learning in Kindergarten
Play-based learning can be defined as young learners actively constructing knowledge as they explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in playful and unique ways. In the early years, it is through experience in play that learning occurs.
Research shows that “children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than non-players, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean” (Edward Miller and Joan Almon 2009).
Put simply, children learn best when they’re having fun and we know that they are more likely to be having fun when they are playing!
In Kindergarten, it is our goal to have a balance between student-initiated play and more focused inquiry learning, planned, scaffolded and guided by teachers.
This term the boys have been having fun engaging in a range of play-based activities that have been planned to support and enhance understanding of their current inquiry unit into ‘products’. The boys were asked to share their thoughts about some of these play experiences.
Alex: “I like writing on the café menu board because I get to practise my writing.”
Christian F: “I like playing in the restaurant because the chefs get to make things.”
Sam: “I like getting the different types of money and buying things in the class shop.”
Play is also integral in the teaching of literacy and numeracy skills. The boys absolutely love playing games that have been designed to teach specific concepts.
William: “I love playing ‘Go Fish’ because it’s fun and you do some learning about sight words.”
Jonathan: “I like playing dice games because you learn how to add numbers together.”
Jackson: “I like the game ‘Bump’ because you learn about maths and it’s fun to bump people off the board.”
Ted: “I like the game ‘Bang’ because you learn to read words.”
During these play experiences, it has been wonderful to see the boys engaged in problem solving, posing questions, trialling solutions, refining learning and having fun!
Belinda Smallhorn – Kindergarten Teacher