Category Archives: Play

The Importance of Play in Kindergarten

The children in my Kindergarten classroom have the opportunity for indoor play every day that they come to school.  I am all too well aware of the Reading Readiness, Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies that I am required to teach to these young children before they leave me to go to first grade.  Let’s not forget about the required assessing, both standardized and informal that I must do along with the teaching.  However, I do have to remember that I am teaching young children with 5 year old brains.  They MUST play with others in order to learn.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.”  Play allows children to use their creativity to solve problems. A group of children were followed from preschool through high school. Researchers found that the complexity of playing with blocks in preschool and Kindergarten predicted kids’ mathematics achievements in high school. In particular, those who had used blocks in more sophisticated ways as preschoolers had better math grades and took more math courses (including honors classes) (Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2001). Yet year after year, I have to explain and convince parents of the importance of play in Kindergarten.  Children learn not just with paper and pencils.  Assessment comes from observing the play, and listening to the conversations.  Math is happening at the block center, language arts is happening at the art center and writing center, science is happening at the listening station followed by free art at the easels. I listen to children as they discuss with each other what we have learned in our daily focus lesson.  At play, they have the opportunity to relearn and take ownership of what has been taught and file that information away in their brains.  I have blocks in my room, and blank art paper, and lots of toys (legos, buckets of old keys, flannel board nursery rhyme stories and so much more) These toys are big hits with the 5 year old crowd and even when I should be teaching, sometimes I stop what I am doing to listen and observe ALL of the learning that is taking place right before my eyes.

reposted from 2009


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Filed under Kindergarten, Play

Screen Time

When your child arrives in school, the classroom is full of opportunities to socialize with his/her peers.  The ability to play and interact with others is a challenge for our children who have grown up in a TV/video game/computer screen world.  They know how to interact with the video games and computer programs just fine, but put them with another child and expect them to play and get along; it’s not such an easy task. Each year the Kindergartners and First Graders are coming to school with more and more knowledge of technology and less and less knowledge of social skills.  Something has to give. Experts recommend very little ‘screen time’ for five and six year olds, with screen time being any time during the day that your child is sitting in front of a TV, video game, or computer screen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.

If your child has a TV in his/her room, remove it immediately!  Encourage more interaction with family members and friends then playing and being social at school will be an easier task.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Play, Social Skills

Playing Cards

Playing cards can be a great deal of fun for young children.  Many reasoning, mathematical and social interaction skills can be developed and reinforced by playing cards.  Simply buy a deck of playing cards (the kind adults use to play cards) and teach your child a few simple games.

  1. He/she can sort the cards, by color, by shape or by number
  2. He/she can play fish.  The object of the game is to collect matches of cards and collect more cards than the other player.  Deal out 7 cards to each person and then hold the cards in your hands.  The players take turns asking each other for a card that might match a card in his/her hand.  If the opposite player has a match for the card the child who asked for it, takes the card and now has a match.  When this happens he/she may ask for another card.  When a child asks and the opponent does not have a match, the opponent says “go fish.”  (which means take a card from the pile of cards that have not been used yet) If the card taken from the ‘go fish’ pile is a match, the person continues to draw another card, but if the card is not a match, the opponent now takes a turn asking.  The process then repeats itself.  When a player runs out of cards he/she may take 3 more from the ‘go fish’ pile.  When the pile is completely gone the game continues until all matches in the hands are matched.  The person with the most matches wins.
  3. War, or Challenge, whichever you prefer to call it.  Deal out the entire deck evenly between 2 players.  Each person keeps their stack of cards face down in a pile and then together both players flip over one card, the person with the highest card showing wins both cards.  If the cards match, then the players count out 2 cards facing down and turn over the 3rd card.  The person with the highest cards gets all of the cards on the table.  This game usually goes on and on and on and ends when one person just tires out.
  4. Playing cards is a good time for your child to practice social etiquette skills and learn to take turns and to be a good player and a good sport about winning or losing.
  5. Get out that deck of cards and see what fun you and your child can have tonite.
  6. Find more card games here:

Re-Posted from August 2009


Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Math, Parents, Play, Social Skills

Child Development Tracker

Here is a wonderful site from PBS that will help you to track the skills your child should possess for his/her age. Take a look at how your child should be functioning in the following areas according to his age:

  1. Approach to Learning
  2. Creative Arts
  3. Language
  4. Literacy
  5. Math
  6. Physical Health
  7. Social and Emotional Growth

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Filed under Alphabet, Beginning Readers, Behavior, Fine Motor Skills, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Math, Maturity, Parents, Play, Reading, Responsibility


Does your child have a dress up corner?  It’s time to give them one.  Playing ‘dress up’ gives children an opportunity to dream, stretch imagination and stimulate creativity.  Children work hard at this type of play because they have to make it up themselves and they learn a great deal while having fun.  There are many stores and online sites that will sell you beautiful dress up clothing but you have dress up clothing already, right there in your own house.  Go look in your closet and before you send your old clothes to charity, check them out through the eyes of a child.  Your old clothes, (prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, sequined clothing, ties, jackets etc.), old shoes, hats, costume jewelry, glamorous items may be just the ticket for ‘dress-up’ items for your child.  When young children have the opportunity to role play and dress up they develop:


  • Improved communication skills that help to develop vocabulary
    • They learn to express themselves.
    • They have a chance to try out more grown up words
    • Improve interpersonal skills as they play dress up
      • Practice speaking to others in a very comfortable setting.
      • Improved self confidence
      • Improved social skills
      • Improved creativity
      • Improved leadership qualities


Clean out your closet and let the fun and games begin! (Be sure to have a camera  ready because there will be MANY Kodak moments to capture!)


Re-posted from August 2009

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Filed under Behavior, First Grade, Kindergarten, Maturity, Parents, Play, Social Skills

Creative Play

In this day of electronic toys, one of the basic toys that many parents grew up with, is falling along the wayside.  Building Blocks. Blocks are toys that provide children with interesting construction materials for designing and building.  Children have many developmental opportunities as they explore shapes, size, measurement, distance and building skills.  Studies have shown increased language development in young children who regularly played with building blocks.





Encouraging Imaginative, Creative Play


Sometimes people avoid block play because they fear that it will get out of hand. A few simple guidelines can prevent that from happening. Here are some sample guidelines for rules for block play:


  • We build with blocks, not throw them.
  • You may knock down only the tower you build.
  • You may build as tall as you are.
  • We keep the blocks on the carpet.
  • We build away from the shelves and others.
  • We take only what we will use.


Preparing for Block Play

  • Make sure that blocks are sorted and neatly arranged.


  • Always categorize blocks neatly when putting them away.


  • Place them with the long side in view to make their size readily apparent.


  • Never dump them in a bin or tub.


  • Children will have difficulty finding the needed sizes when blocks are not stored in an orderly manner.


  • They will simply scatter blocks unnecessarily if you store them in a bin or in any disorganized manner.


  • Language Improvement by playing with blocks.



To understand the benefits of block playing check out:


What are you waiting for?   Take out those blocks and watch the learning begin.

Re-posted from August 2009

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Filed under Fine Motor Skills, First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Play, Problem Solving, Social Skills

The Importance of Play

It’s summer; do you know where your young children are?  Hopefully your answer will not be ‘playing video games’ or ‘watching TV’.  The fresh air outside awaits your child and it is time to turn off the TV/electronics. Summer time should remind us of longer days, a slower pace, and time to explore nature and their environment without a schedule. Children learn a great deal about their world and themselves when allowed to play outside.  Please encourage your child to go out back to play ball, blow bubbles, ride their bike, or simply lie on the grass to create images from the cloud formations overhead. Experts believe that a daily boost of 90 minutes of fresh air will benefit your child not only for the rest of his/her life.  Active outside play teaches your child self-confidence and playing with other children increases your child’s ability to interact in social settings, like school.

If you are getting ready to send your 5 or 6 year old off to school for the first time, although it is tempting to try and give your child a jumpstart for school by giving him/her an educational workbook to work on please put the workbooks away and head outdoors.  The other day I was walking with two young friends of mine and we noticed a full grown tomato plant, complete with tomatoes, growing out of a crack in a city sidewalk.  Wow! This was certainly a teachable moment.  ‘How did the seed get there?’ asked one girl, ‘How does it grow?’ asked her sister. The questions and the following discussion lasted several minutes while we continued to examine the plant.  Had the children been indoors playing electronics, we would have missed this show from Mother Nature.  Slow down, encourage your children to do the same and you will be in awe of what learning will take place from your efforts.


Play is one of the crucial elements of a good childhood
Bob Reitemeier
The Children’s Society

Re posted from July 2009

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Play