All year I have been thinking about how to bring more play into Studio 4. It has been mulling for months. I am lucky to work at a school with many advocates for play. Ainsley Cameron and Melissa Meadows are just two of the fantastic educators that come to mind. Our math coach, Tiffany Eaton, is going back into the grade 4 classroom next year at her new school and recently posted on Twitter how much she aspires to make that classroom as much of a parallel to her daughter's Early Explorers classroom she is currently in.
I come from a background of lower primary and younger aged settings. I worked and volunteered at preschools, before and after school care, and four of my first five years of teaching were all grade 1 and below. To me, having things out is natural. Drawing kids in is a normal purpose. Letting them play is a constant purpose.
Should it be different once they hit grade 2?
What are we trying to instill in them?
Do we take away play because it is a distractor to their normal "work" or goals for the week?
What if it inspired a new goal?
What if it created an "aha" moment for someone?
As we gear up for summer, Tiffany and I thought we would jump in and see how it went. We tore through the studio... literally. Taking covers off of benches to create more workable spaces, adding provocations for math as well as history, for our current Where We Are In Place and Time unit. We went down to the Early Explorers section of the school to see what "spare" things were in storage and changed what we could in one afternoon.
We put out linking blocks, pattern shapes, a crafty/makerspace area that is open for everyone to see all of the resources, 3D connecting pieces, an old typewriter, a cassette/radio player, artifacts from multiple countries, and some extra bamboo rugs to create visual places for them to go to.
Students were immediately drawn in. They put down their iPad and came to question and or build with us.
Is the studio messier? Yes.
Is there more responsibility for belongings? Yes.
Are they 'distracted' from their goals? Sometimes.
Are they linking it to their goals? Sometimes.
Are they talking to others while they build/get curious about the things that are out? For sure.
Do they get bored of what is put out after a few days? Yes! As they would in early years, too.
Are students creating more? YES!
I hope to continue this journey next year. I feel it is important to have things in their sight and readily available to them.
Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam