5 Ways to Play To Learn

17 July 2015 / Leave a Comment
Play is such an important aspect of life, especially for a child. I know that I become irritable, restless and much less productive, when I haven't allowed myself time to "play" and move. Yet, we often don't consider that kids might learn and retain information better if we provide them with playful breaks. The "breaks" can be learning activities, disguised as play. 
I believe that most learning time should be fun.  Not only for the enjoyment of the children, but to optimize their learning potential. You learn and retain knowledge better when you are having fun!

I am always looking for more ideas to make learning fun, so here are 5 Ways To Play To Learn!

1. Use hands-on activities.
Hands on activities are such fun, but also allow kids to engage and interact with their own learning. This is essential!
Here are a few fun freebies and ideas that will get your kids learning and interacting with concepts, through use of their bodies.
Kids can practice counting, adding, subtracting, and subitizing with a magnetic pizza pan. They will be using their hands to bring the concepts to life. See the DIY directions here. See a ton of DIY Math manipulatives here.
Create monsters to decompose and compose numbers.  These adorable guys are from Crayons and Cuties in Kindergarten.  Kids will love to get their hands on this! See the DIY directions here and scoop up the decomposing freebie and composing freebie, too.

2. Use a game format to provide or review information.
There are so many easy ways to turn practice into a game. Use "Bump" or "Roll & Cover" games to practice letters, sight words, numerals, addition, subtraction, or any skill.
Here is a free "Back To School Bump" to practice addition to 12.

3. Use novelty to catch their attention.
Dress like a character, use puppets, use anything out of the ordinary to spark their attention.  You can turn ordinary objects into learning tools that are sure to capture their attention. See my Pinterest board full of fun and easy DIY Learning Tools. You are sure to find something!

Teach 'greater than' and 'less than' with a "Greater Gator" or an "Alligobbler".  I made "Greater Gator" from two Dollar Store dusters.
I found "Alligobbler" on Teachwithme.com. "Alligobbler" is an alligator made out of an envelope and wiggly eyes. The alligator actually eats the bigger number. It is simple to make and use to interact with math concepts.

4. Use "magic" to turn up the fun!
You can turn any common place object into a magical tool, just by opening your eyes in wonder and bringing out your inner thespian. Kids love to pretend and believe that magic is real. Turn your lessons into something special, by transporting them to another world.
I use a "magical addition machine" to help kids experience addition. I play up the magical qualities of the addition machine and make a huge production of uncorking the magic from the machine.
This "machine" is merely a PVC drain with a plug that unscrews at the bottom. Items go in at the top and magically turn into a new amount at the bottom. Kids LOVE it! See it in action here and here.
5. Don't forget to have them move!
Whether you use songs to get their wiggles out and follow directions, or moving games like "Scoot" and "Write the Room", get your kids moving! It will get them excited and they think it's a "break" from school. They are really learning through their movements. I find the movement games get us all more prepared and able to focus and learn in a more traditional format.
Here is a free "Write the Room" activity for fall. I hope it helps your kids count, move and play to learn!
Thanks for sticking around to hear about some playful learning activities. I would love to hear about your great ideas in the classroom! Until next month,


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