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This is a great article from the Primarily Play Resource distributed by ETFO for K-3.

The article discusses some great points about neuroscience and how the brain needs to be “worked” and norished so that the brain can function later in life.  Experience changes to brain.  So, a teacher planning my classroom; assessments, centres, inquiry ideas we want to provoke thinking, plan robust questions, and meet the needs of each learning in our classroom.  Learning in play is very social and is often far from a quiet place.  Purposefully conversations about what the children are doing and learning; “hum of creativity and friendship is a sign of a happy learning environment” (p.3)

Some provoking questions to reflect on;

-Are there engaging opportunities for children to explore?  Are they changed often?

-Are there areas for children to display there work?  Is there a place to display the conversations and pictures (documentation board)? How do we celebrate learning?

When we see an area of development that is not being met, what do we do?

-Is the environment a safe place for children to learn without judgement?

-Are there strategies possibly around self-regulation that are implemented in the classroom?

-Are there resources (books), a character program (Social Justice Begins with Me) that can address and promote self-confidence, and promote positives?

An overall thought when looking at the whole classroom environment and the children we teach:

How does the classroom value the whole child–developmentally and socially?

TO PLAY IS TO LEARN……have a read and see if you could change one thing to support student learning.



As a parent to a first time JK student, I found myself asking him question after question once he got home today.  At first he answered I don’t know and later he shared more about his day. 

As a teacher to new students in a new enviroment an idea would be to send home a little information about their first week.  On a piece of paper create some simple sentences like; I played with ________, I played at the _______ centre. Then, let them illustrate a picture on their own about something they enjoyed. You can call them over in small groups, you can circulate around the room and engage in oral conversation while recording their ideas during play.  When time allows you can take a photo and send it home .  This way they can talk at home about things they actually did!


In the beginning of the school year my ECE partner and I worked together to review the curriculum document and decided on how to best meet the needs of our students in the first 6 weeks.  For most, this was an entirely new setting for them and we wanted to make them feel as comfortable as possible. 

Our first idea was to start with them and their experiences.  We got them to design special “Me” bags at home.  Children places special items and picture to discuss in large group.  This year, we decided to purchase picture frames from the dollar store and have the children bring in a photo of their family or a picture of them doing something fun. These remain around the classroom and it creates great discussions.

Next, we started discussing their natural surrounds-we discussed family, our neighbourhoods which lead to discussions about nature, buildings, shapes, signs etc.  We planned a community walk field trip early October to travel around the neighbourhood to view some of these things.  During the walk we stopped and talked about what we saw–I took the camera to take pictures. 

From the photographs we created large posters with the children telling us what they saw and adding the language below the pictures.  We make books and started to change our centres according to our neighbourhood. 

Examples are; Our house centre became the bake shop, another centre become the clinic, the building centre become a construction zone with a fire station, and our math area focused on shapes–naming and sorting.  The children made signs, added in their own writing, they wore different clothing, and this lead to discussions about careers. 

This is how our long range plans began to evolve–their ideas drove the learning, and we reviewed and matched curriculum expectations for each centre.   We used a web format for our planning.  The Big Idea or overall learning was the focus –each centre developed around the idea (each had a purpose and focus) so we would write down questions that we would ask the children as we entered each centre to extend their learning.