Learning Through Play

When I Play, I am Learning!
Written by K. Miller, Children’s World National Director of Education

When I paint at the easel, I am learning…

  • to develop my imagination and creativity.
  • eye-hand coordination, helpful for learning to write.
  • the names of colors and how to make new colors.
  • to distinguish shapes, and purposely create shapes.
  • to notice patterns from background, necessary for learning to read.
  • to express my feelings and ideas.
  • that my ideas have value.
  • relationships of space and size, necessary for mathematics.
  • concepts of symmetry, balance and design.

When I play with Playdough, I am learning…

  • to see the shape against the background of the table, a reading skill.
  • concepts of shapes, relative size, big, small, length, and height
  • to see negative space when cookie cutter shapes are taken away.
  • to express feelings, squeezing and pounding.
  • to exercise my imagination and creativity.
  • that the amount of a substance remains the same, even when the shape changes.

When I play with water, I am learning…

  • that some things sink and some things float.
  • to observe changes as water takes different form in different containers.
  • about different temperatures.
  • about wet, dry and evaporation.
  • what happens when you add soap.
  • eye-hand coordination as I learn to pour.
  • concepts of empty and full, volume and weight, relevant to mathematics.

When I play with blocks, cars and trucks, I am learning…

  • concepts of shape, size, length and location, all relative to learning to read, and do mathematics.
  • to create and repeat patterns, a math skill.
  • to exercise my imagination.
  • to express my ideas.
  • to cooperate with others.
  • to solve problems.
  • about the properties of wood.
  • to see myself from a different perspective, that of a giant.

When I play on the climbing equipment, I am learning…

  • self confidence as I develop new skills.
  • physical strength, coordination, and balance.
  • to use my imagination.
  • to cooperate with others when involved in some dramatic play.
  • to solve problems.

When I play in the dramatic play area, I am learning…

  • to be flexible in my thinking.
  • to express myself in sentences.
  • to try on different adults roles.
  • to solve problems, especially socially, through negotiation with friends.
  • to sort and organize playthings.
  • to make decisions.
  • to improvise and use things in a symbolic way to represent something else…a form of abstract thinking.
  • to carry out my ideas with the cooperation of others.
  • to exercise my imagination and creativity.

When I participate in circle time, I am learning…

  • to listen, sit still, and understand spoken language.
  • to add my ideas to the discussion, my ideas have value.
  • to wait when others are talking.
  • new vocabulary connected with the topic of discussion.
  • to remember the words of songs and poems.
  • the names of others in the group.
  • to cooperate and be considerate of the needs of others.

When I sort things, I am learning…

  • to notice details of likeness and differences of objects and form categories, essential concepts for reading and mathematics.
  • concepts of color, size, and shape.
  • numerical concepts of more and less.
  • logical reasoning.