Sunday, November 16, 2014

Experts in the early childhood field point towards the value in outdoor play and open-ended dramatic play.  One growing trend that combines both pillars is the incorporation of loose parts into early childhood environments.  Loose parts can be anything from spare tires to wood pieces.  The benefits of including loose parts on playgrounds are:

§  Children become the creative masterminds of their own environment, allowing for a degree of independence and initiative.

§  Students are encouraged to work together to innovate and problem solve.

§  The materials give children age-appropriate challenge, as each age group uses the loose parts in different fashions.

§  The play expression is unique each day as students explore and pretend new adventures.

Check out these great resources on loose parts:

§  Let the Children Play blog post on the Theory of Loose Parts

§  Pinterest Page on ECE Loose Parts Play

§  Museum Notes blog post on Playing With…Loose Parts

What do you think about the inclusion of loose parts on preschool playgrounds?  How do you think children and parents would respond to loose parts?  What are some ideas and/or best practices you have to share regarding best practices?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Changing the Culture on Play

Extensive research has been conducted on the benefits of play-based learning.  If you are in the field of Early Childhood Education, then I am preaching to the choir.  I recently responded to a post by Let the Children Play, which raised the question "they play, but do they write?"  The author's resounding answer is "Yes!"  A number of fantastic pictorial examples is provided of how students can practice writing through play. 

Yet this post points to a larger issue for me.  Although we as ECE educators understand the valuable learning that occurs during play experiences, most parents do not grasp it.  Parents nowadays want to see tangible, teacher-directed curriculum.  How can we change the mindset parents have towards play?  What have you done to help families endorse play as a viable source for learning?