When I Play, I am Learning!

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I love to watch and to interact with little children when they play and the older I get the more I appreciate the value of play. For kids, play is work. I believe this with my whole heart, but it was great to see this list of the different things kids learn when they are playing, which I have reprinted with permission from The Explorium of Lexington,   www.explorium.com .

When I examine nature objects, I am learning:

  • new vocabulary
  • concepts of color, weight, texture, size, etc.
  • to group objects into categories, and observe likenesses and differences
  • to appreciate nature and develop a sense of wonder

When I play with puzzles, I am learning:

  • about the relationships of the parts to the whole, a basic math concept
  • eye-hand coordination
  • concepts of size, color and location
  • vocabulary related to the subject of the puzzle
  • problem solving
  • about negative and positive spaces, seeing something against its background (math and reading concepts)
  • self-confidence as I learn more difficult puzzles
  • independence as I use the puzzle without help

When I play with water, I am learning:

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

 When I look at books and hear stories, I am learning:

  • that learning to read is important and enjoyable
  • that letters on a page represent words, or talk written down
  • the meaning of more and more words
  • to express my own thoughts, feelings and ideas better
  • to exercise my own imagination
  • to interpret pictures to represent ideas
  • to listen well to spoken language;  to make up my own stories
  • to handle books with care
  • aesthetic values from well done illustrations; to recognize words when I see them in print
  • to use more and more complex language patterns in my own speech
  • to follow the development of thought and ideas in the plot of the story

 When I play with puppets, I am learning:

  • to express ideas with words
  • to take on the role of someone else
  • to communicate with voice tones as well as words to use my imagination
  • to act out fears/concerns in healthy environment

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 mathematics
  • to create and repeat patterns, a math skill
  • to exercise imagination
  • to express ideas
  • to cooperate with others
  • to problem solve
  • the concept of scale

When I play on 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

So, if you feel guilty when your kids are just playing, don't.   They are learning more than you could imagine.

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