This afternoon it was too rainy to play outside so we took out the games and I observed the children working with them. I saw so many great learning opportunities! I know that our classroom is the foundation that makes these games successful, but I also see many ways in which the games support the development of our normal classroom activities.
This is the learning I observed:
- Collaboration- many of the games involve 2,3 or 4 children. (I find that more than 4 children in a game at this age makes it harder for the children to manage well independently.) Games invite collaboration and learning to work together is what it's all about.
- Taking turns- games are a great place to develop self regulation.
- Following rules- the games we have are mostly simple and don't have too many rules, but there are always some fundamental rules that need to be followed for the activity to work.
- Sharing- many of the building works involve sharing space and pieces. Learning to do this successfully is challenging.
- Responsibility- the building materials in particular can have many pieces and involve quite a bit of cleanup. In our room whoever takes the rug and work from the shelf is the responsible one for putting the work away even during collaborative work.
- Language- there is so much language exchanged during collaborative building. Because there is an element of free play to these works, there is opportunity for pretend play and a lot of language use.
- Commitment to the work- choosing a game, inviting friends to play, playing the game, finishing it and putting it away is a big job.
- Inviting someone to play- learning to identify who is available and asking them if they want to play with you is one of the most exercised skills during afternoon games.
- Social flexibility. This is probably my favorite aspect of learning during games. Because there is only a certain number of children that can play each game, permutations of social interaction get mixed and children often wind up paired with others that might not normally play with.
- Learning to lose graciously/ Learning to win graciously.
- Organization- setup and group management are required for the games to be successful.
- And finally, some games have direct educational value aside from these indirect learning aspects: exercising memory, creativity, visual skills, language skills, counting and other math skills, motor skills just to name a few.
Here is our collection of games which we have curated over the years.
- Spot it!
- Balancing Moon
- Color tower
- Castle Climb (with simplified rules)
- Jumbolino (with simplified rules)
- Tic Tac Toe
- Marble run
- Magnet blocks (Magnatiles)
- Sticky blocks (Sticky Brix)
- Sticks and cubes
If you have games that have worked well with your age group, please share!