According to The LEGO Foundation, “We say learning through play happens when the activity (1) is experienced as joyful, (2) helps children find meaning in what they are doing or learning, (3) involves active, engaged, minds-on thinking, (4) as well as iterative thinking (experimentation, hypothesis testing, etc), and (5) social interaction”.
It is important to mention that although not all the characteristics of Learning through play must be present in every activity, it is desirable to have at least one. There will be play experiences that will include social interactions and others geared towards problem solving and that is ok. We just have to keep them in mind and integrate as many characteristics as we can in the activities that we promote.
Play experiences promote different skills and have a crucial role in learning and in preparing children for the academic future. As with the characteristics of play experiences, it is not necessary to include all the skills in every activity. But, it is useful to know all of them and plan the activity around the specific skill that we wish to promote.
The emotional skills are the ones that work on understanding, managing and expressing emotions by building self-awareness and handling impulses. The cognitive skills promotes the concentration, problem solving and flexible thinking by learning to tackle complex tasks and building effective strategies to identify solutions. The physical skills refer to being physically active, understanding movement and space through practicing sensory-motor skills, developing spatial understanding and nurturing an active and healthy body. The social skills have to do with collaboration, communication and understanding other people’s perspectives through sharing ideas, negotiating rules and building empathy. And the creative skills help with coming up with ideas, expressing them and transforming them into reality by creating associations, symbolising and representing ideas and providing meaningful experiences for others.
Books are an AMAZING tool for early childhood development and a great ally for play experiences: playing with books can stimulate many abilities, they are fun and easy to find.
Here are a few ideas to assist play experiences with books in kids 0-6 years old. All of these ideas can be adapted to the number of kids that want to engage in the activity. Also it can be more or less complex according to the age and the development stage of the kids.
Do you have any other ideas? Please share them with us so we can expand our catalog.