We played…sssshhh don’t tell!

I absolutely feel as a teacher today, that I help guide a community of learners. Always thinking, reading, writing, deciding, wondering, discussing, questioning, daring, making, creating.  One word that does often enter into that myriad of descriptors is “playing.” Sure, we play with words and play with ideas but there is no time for play in third grade, we have far too much to create and discover. But, how do we look at play? Dare we say that play fosters imagination and learning in schools?

This week we played. Yup, you heard it. We packed up and took home some inspiration from a video we saw and we used our imaginations, created, and then PLAYED. At school.  And it was awesome. There is simply no other word for it. Just awesome.

My lovelies watched Caine’s Arcade last week. If you are unfamiliar, I encourage you to look it up on youtube. If you don’t start immediately creating and thinking upon viewing it, then watch it again. You missed something.

Caine created an entire arcade out of cardboard boxes and tubes. Complete with working moving parts, prizes, and tickets. It is spectacular. I challenged my students to do the same if they were inspired by Caine.

During this week of testing my students lugged behind them giant cardboard claw machines, small ring toss challenges,  and a multitude of boxes with tubes sticking out. They walked us through their plans and explained with a twinkle in their eye how you operated said game and then… we played.

I learned more about some of my students during those small snippets of play than I have learned sitting next to them in math class or while reading a book. Even during writing, when they are in the midst of their imagination creating, they seem to dial it back a notch or two to “excited school mode.” THIS was pure, unbridled imagination that drove them. You could see the wheels turning and smoke pouring out of their ears from the exertion of excitement as they described their game. You could feel the pride that radiated from them as their customers gave it a whirl,  and offered up suggestions for improvement no less. 🙂

Every single student enthralled and thinking. This will remain with me for a long time. And my ultimate hope is that each of those minds took with them some imagination to hold on to and the need to share it.

Yes. Yes, there is time for play.

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7 thoughts on “We played…sssshhh don’t tell!

  1. Yay for play! I believe there is always time for play. Yesterday, we played too. We played 4 corners at the end of the day…music, dancing, laughter, and FUN. It was a great end to the week. Yay for play! (Can’t wait to check out the video you suggested).

  2. Your blog encouraged me to learn more about play and found this article about the definition of play and its value. Thanks…

    Freedom to Learn by Peter Gray
    “Play is, first and foremost, an expression of freedom. It is what one wants to do as opposed to what one is obliged to do. The joy of play is the ecstatic feeling of liberty.”

  3. Yes, the most important “Ing” word of all, playing.
    I have seen the video of his arcade. Delightful. Playing is learning.
    Wonderful idea. I would like to be in your class. I know how to read, but sometimes I forget to play.

  4. I love the story of Caine’s arcade! I’m so glad you shared it with your students. I love your reflection on the week – very thoughtful. I can hear my Maddie’s words in my head now, “Mommy, can you pway with me? Let’s pway!”

  5. This is filled with so much truth, so much honesty…. my favorite line:
    “I learned more about some of my students during those small snippets of play than I have learned sitting next to them in math class or while reading a book.”

    Oh the moments when I learn something about a student that I know is one of the most important things to know, and then I have to wonder why I hadn’t learned it sooner.

    Thanks for slicing!
    ~j.

  6. I Love it! I was meeting with a kindergarten teacher yesterday and I said, “I don’t expect kindergarten to be all work and no play” and she said, “oh, can you make sure and say that at our lab?” It made me think about what other think I think – ya know? What’s on the inside doesn’t always come out on the outside. Lesson learned…and you just added to it. Thanks Kim!

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