Saturday, March 12, 2016

Just Play

Yup, you heard me. Just play! <ok, sorry for screaming> I just become super passionate about the advocacy for play in the classrooms. My sweet friend Holly at Research and Play just reminded me of how important this topic is. Check out her #TPT giveaway and see how she and her followers do play in their classrooms. And when I say play, I mean getting on the floor and playing with Legos, building a fort, playing dress-up, or creating signs for your classroom. I teach 2nd grade and I still try to squeeze in those moments of pure, uninterrupted-by-an-adult play. Why? Because when I do, this is what happens...

athletes playing with artists
problems being solved
controlled chaos

I seriously could cry when I witness my unstoppable athlete play dolls with my most gentle girl in the classroom. Not to mention the mix of boys and girls making signs for a Kendama Club (yes, it's a thing) and collaborating about the different ideas of what the club entails. Or how about the group of kids playing with dinosaurs roaring, laughing, and building extravagant dinosaur lands?! I mean, c'mon!!! The friendships that they're building, memories they're making, and the ability to completely remove themselves from any worry or challenges that may be going on in their lives is priceless. Golden. In case you don't understand... there is no amount of money you can put down for witnessing a child in a state of pure happiness.

After reading all of that and seeing pure bliss, one might naturally think, "Great! I'm in! Just do it already. And remind me again why everyone is NOT doing it?!" This is the challenging part for a teacher... ready... you know what it is already... wait for it... the ongoing complaint of time. Not enough time. Time! Time! Time! Gosh, darnit, already. We have "umpteen" workbooks to complete, ten thousand standards to teach, and testing to match those standards. And don't forget the 10 minutes it takes to line up (in a straight line and I'm-gonna-wait-til-it's-quiet kind of line), eating, outside play, specialty classes, and the 15 minutes that I need to connect with my kids with the simple, "Tell me something exciting, fun, or relaxing you did! Any joys or concerns?" So, that "little" block of time that you were hoping to give to the kids, well, it's gone. Bell rang. Class dismissed. Ugh!

Truly, however, all I need to do is remember those happy, smiling faces to force myself to just put that "Free Choice" time in my lesson plan book and... JUST PLAY! Yes! It's like scheduling a doctor's appointment. Book that time. Be diligent about giving the kids that gift that they probably won't get much of outside of the classroom. Their "play-days" are numbered and it's up to us to fill their memory banks with as many giggles, love, and happiness as much as we can. 20 minutes. It's possible. It makes a difference. Call it what you may, but the children ARE learning!

Go ahead now. Time's a ticking... #TeachersplanPlay


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