There are many small moments (hence the name of this blog) in a play based classroom that allow us a window into children’s previous experiences and their breadth of oral language. By playing in role with the child and providing some simple prompts the conversation can be enriched and extended. Consider the following interactions and the opportunities provided for both using specialized vocabulary appropriately and for introducing new vocabulary to a small group of children:
This first interaction occured as the teacher passed by the Home Centre:
Sean came over to me with a salad bowl and a large salad spoon, pretending to be stirring something in the bowl.
S-” I’m making you a salad!”
T-”What are you putting in the salad?”
S “Sweet peppers, tomatoes, hot petters and green things!”
-he continues to stir
S- “O.K. That’s it! It’s ready. You can eat it now.”
T- “It looks delicious. Can you save it for me so I can eat it later?”
S- “O.K.” I’ll put it in the fridge.”
He returned to the home centre and put it in a cupboard.
The Home Centre was set up as a doctor’s office. Consider how the children are using the props offered them for their play.
A little girl approached me and asked me to help her and a friend put on large white shirts because they were both going to be doctors. Another student is laying on a mat on the floor covered with a blanket and holding a doll.
T- “What’s happening here doctor?”
S- ” She’s very sick”
T- ” How do you know she’s sick?”
S- “I checked her forehead and she’s hot.” (She writes something on a piece of paper on a clipboard)
T- “What are you writing?”
S- “I’m writing her name and I’m writing the appointment” (She has organized several columns on the paper) She puts the clipboard down and touches the doll’s face.
S- “Now I’m checking the baby too” She pretends to put something in the doll’s mouth.
T- “What are you giving the baby?”
S- “She’s sick and she’s got a cold and a cough.”
T- ” How do you know she has a cold?”
S- ” I listened to her cough with that thing–that thing the doctor wears around his neck” (She gestures to some imaginary “thing” around her neck) “and now I’m giving her a medicine.”
T- “The thing the doctor wears is called a stethoscope.”
S- “Yeah! That thing!” the student picks up a file folder filled with papers she has put into it.) “I’m checking her file.”
One student says to the “patient” on the floor, “You’re going to go home later on.” The other student says, No, you’re going home on Monday!”
In the building centre three boys are creating a structure using large blocks:
T-”What are you making boys?”
S-”We’re making a maze”
T-”Can you tell me what a maze is?”
S-”It’s something you get lost in. I saw it in a movie and I thought about it.”
S-”Can you tell me how the maze works?”
S-” You close this end so people won’t be able to get in there and then everybody’s going to walk and get lost in the maze.”
T-”Will people find anything in the maze?”
S-”We’re going to build a bridge at the end of it.”