Creating a play-based program that represents the children’s interest that is both successful and stimulating calls to your creative side! This can be both exciting and fun for children and educators to plan for.
Centers and learning should be co planned. Children are using their imagination to create materials and props, as educators assist in fulfilling and furthering their creativity to promote successful learning centers.
Observation and Interaction
A play lead can emerge at any time. Observation, and interaction is an effective strategy to gain understanding and insight into their interest. Listen with your ears and with your eyes and you will discover their interests. For example, last year as we began our school year by providing an eclectic range of materials and resources for the children to play and explore,it became clear that a majority of the children were choosing “dinosaurs” when asked “Where would you like to start your learning and play today?”.
As we decided to take this lead, we began choosing stories about dinosaurs, and informational texts that would further their understanding of dinosaurs. The children helped to co create our “Safari Bus” where they used their binoculars to spot dinosaurs around the classroom. Our children were encouraged to use their literacy skills to draw or write the dinosaurs names on paper (at each child’s individual level) as they were spotted!
Seizing an Unexpected Lead
A Play lead can also emerge at the most unexpected moments. Last year we were so fortunate to welcome an unexpected vistor to our school playground, a fox!! After we spotted the fox through our classroom window he watched us, as we watched him for several minutes before he ran around the wall and decided to hide under one of our school portables.
As we followed up with a some information books that gave the children insight into where the fox was going and what the fox might be doing, we furthered our journey into animals and habitat. A family brought in a story about a little owl and the interest led to birds. Here are some images of two of our children taking on the roles of mama bird, daddy bird, and baby bird as our dramatic center turned into a birds nest!
Sharing Time Leads
We have also found a lead through a short gathering time we have at the end of our play. As the children shared various creations, structures, and drawings, one of our little friends shared with us his drawing of a “space station”. The children listened as little J told them about various control buttons and the screen that represented his own space station. Little J’s peers began to ask him questions about his drawing, and conversation sparked a new interest. After reading a great little story “Not A Box” we co created our rocket that would lead us into space.
Over the next several weeks, the children explored “moon sand”, books about the different planets, the moon and the sun. We even had our good friend Brother Nick come to our classroom after a child beamed with the realization that we are “..actually in space right now!!!!!”, and a question about ‘Where is God?’ came to light.