Sunday, October 7, 2012

Types of Play

There are different types of play, and they often overlap in rich play scenarios. Knowing and watching for the broad types helps sensitize adults to the shifting landscapes children create. It also provides a tool for assessing whether or not I am providing adequate opportunities and materials for all types of play. This post will focus on large-motor play and small-motor play.

Children love to climb, run, slide, swing, jump, and engage in every type of movement possible. Such play develops coordination, balance, and a sense of one's body in the space around it. In the classroom we have scheduled movement breaks, sometimes they are in the shape of music and dance (thank you youtube), yoga, or simply taking a couple of laps around the room while counting off. During choice times the children often pull out the balance beam and practice various routines. Imaginative play often results in laps around the room as the characters they have assumed work through various scenarios. Getting up and getting active creates a chemical change in ones brain which allows for growth of brain cells, activity activates learning!

Play with small toys and activities like stringing beads, playing with puzzles, and sorting objects into types develops dexterity. Every day we practice our pencil grip and handwriting in a variety of different ways. Correct pencil grip begins with sitting on the whole chair, pinching thumb and pointer finger, and resting the writing tool on the middle and ring finger. We do this with pencils, markers, white board crayons, SMART board stylus, and pens. Different tools glide differently on different surfaces making it quite a challenge to master a skill we consider second nature. Practicing letters and numbers with Doodle Buddy on an iPad is worth its weight in gold. The children are able to use a pointer finger to help master the strokes and directionality prior to taking it to paper, and its so motivating! As well we engage in a variety of art projects each and every day that have the children cutting, gluing, painting, drawing, and generally manipulating small objects. Choice time gives the children an opportunity to play with loads of small toys all of which require snapping together in one way or another. The latest choice activity involves sewing!

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