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Learn how to encourage learning through play with your kids, plus pick up a great resource for learning letters and numbers through play for a great price (and with lots of freebies, too).
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I use the term playful learning a lot, in my head if not on this blog. I think of the writing I do at the Craft Gossip lesson plans site as being focused on promoting playful learning, and a lot of the activities I do with the girl could probably be called playful learning if you wanted to label them.
What is Learning Through Play?
Playful learning or learning through play is pretty much what kindergarten and early elementary school looked like when most of us were kids. School for little ones was a lot less focused on learning to read, early math development and all the other standards kids are expected to rise to today.
We got to do a lot more open-ended playing. And that is a way to learn in itself.
I think we parents get hung up on the idea that play is one thing and learning is something else. That recess and center time, dress up and playing with blocks is not as important as time at the desk or on the carpet with a book.
But there’s a lot of important stuff happening when kids play. It’s pretty much all in there, from physical development necessary to one day hold a pencil and form letters, to math skills when pretending to run a store, interpersonal skills needed when playing a game with someone else, building vocabulary and more.
Also, it might not do kids any good to force “learning” on them too early, and might even do harm.
How to Encourage Play
More and more schools and early educational programs are starting to emphasize play for little kids — and a lot of “alternative” methods like Montessori and Waldorf always have.
If your kids are at home or don’t go to such a school, there are a lot of ways to encourage a playful approach at home.
- Don’t overschedule your kids or yourself. Creative play requires time, freedom and flexibility in schedules. No one has time for play when there’s a lesson every day after school or a schedule full of family activities.
- Buy open-ended toys. Blocks, playdough, art supplies, dress-up clothes and the like, which don’t have a right way to be used and that can be used in many different ways, are perfect for playful learning.
- Use nature as a “toy.” The creative component of learning through play is huge, so anything that can be used for multiple things is great. Rocks and sticks are great to play with. Walking and exploring nature are great uses of your time.
- Combine learning and playful activities. Just because you’re learning something specific like letters and numbers doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a playful way. That mean playing games instead of doing worksheets, incorporating hands-on activities, using things kids already like to get them interested in learning a new thing.
Speaking of learning letters and numbers, I contributed to a book on that very subject. ABCs and 123s includes more than 40 playful activities for helping kids learn and engage with letters and numbers, including lacing, sorting, spelling, stacking, counting and playing your way to recognizing and spelling their name, counting, doing basic math, identifying sight words and much more.
My contribution was a drawing game using dice, which helps with number identification and addition, as well as combining math and art. So fun!
And from now through May 7, 2017, when you buy your copy of ABCs and 123s for the special price of $9.99 you’ll also get a bonus ABCs and 123s kit: stickers and certificate for your children to celebrate them joining in with the ABCs and 123s activities, and extra resources for you including poster, printable resources and games – join in with the community challenge this month, or get your resources now and do the challenge when it suits you. Get more information about the book, or go