Monthly Archives: April 2019

Born to Imagine and Play

Blog Creative play bookmark

This past Saturday proved to be a fun, fabulous day full of creative play and imagination with the grandchildren. There was a scavenger hunt that got a little competitive by the oldest grandson (oh, and me too). For a time, I was royalty. My granddaughter was the queen and I was the princess. We sat in our royal thrones on the deck with our blanket regal robes wrapped around our shoulders.  Swinging and sliding took place at the “home” playground, forts were built out of blankets and pillows, basketball games took place in the driveway, pictures were colored, and marching bands were serenading us from the basement play room. Play…it is vital to a child’s development.

Play is not a four letter word,” writes Rae Pica (2015) in her book What If Everybody Understood Child Development? Children are creatures born to use their imaginations and creativity during play, which all of us adults were once these creative creatures.

What do you see in the picture above? When I asked several adults this question, I got the same answer…a bookmark. That is not what my 4 year old granddaughter saw. One day while she was playing with her 3-year old cousin, she asked me if I had seen her superpower phone. Imagine yourself asking others if they had seen YOUR phone. Yes, that is the ‘panic’ she had in her voice. “Grandma…have you seen my superpower phone?” I hadn’t because I had no idea what she was talking about.

A few minutes later, she shouted out, “found it, Grandma.” I went to see what her ‘superpower phone’ was. Check out the picture below. Love it! ❤😃 Play…creative, imaginative, innovative.

Blog Creative Sibyl

Pica (2015) strongly believes “true play is open-ended and intrinsically motivated. True play is not directed by adults. It has nothing to do with product (home runs, goals, points, and wins) and everything to do with process (fun)” (p. 61).

If children don’t learn to play when they are young, then the likelihood of discovering the value of play as an adult is stifled. What a dreadful, dreary life it would be without the presence of a playful attitude (Pica, 2015).  

In the 19th Century, Freidrich Froebel created what we now know as Kindergarten. He understood the importance of play. According to the podcast 99% Invisible (2019):

The word Kindergarten cleverly encompassed two different ideas: kids would play in and learn from nature, but they would also themselves be nurtured and nourished “like plants in a garden.” There were literal gardens and outdoor activities, but the real key to it all was a set of deceptively simple-looking toys that became known as Froebelgaben or in English, Froebel’s Gifts (Para. 7).

Dr. Peter Gray (2014) informs his TEDxNavesink audience that he believes play has declined over the years because of the speculation that children learn best from adults, and that self-directed play is a waste of time. He also believes play has declined because of fear. Parents have fear something bad may happen to their children if the children aren’t supervised at all times.

Dr. Gray (2014) proposes these solutions to the unfortunate decline of play. He advises we: 1) examine our own priorities; 2) get to know our neighbors and develop neighborhood networks; 3) establish places for children to play; and, 4) stand up against more schooling.

Teachers…please understand the value of play!  Allow your students to participate in self-regulated play. Get creative and incorporate play into your curriculum, no matter what grade level you teach. Never take away recess, especially from the ones who need it the most!  And most importantly, play along WITH your students. (My fifth graders called me the Dodge Ball Queen 😃).

Blog Play VinceGowmon

Stay Calm & Just Keep Playing!
Profs Dr. Wendy. & Dr. V.

Taking Action to Meet the Needs of Children

Blog Mr. Rogers2

In the classroom, whose responsibility is it to take care of the children? The teacher’s, that’s who!!! Those who see children’s needs and respond to those needs are considered my heroes. My heroes…classroom teachers!

Teachers see the needs of students, research for the best ways to help those students, and then respond to those needs by taking action. This action teachers take is called action research. Our SMSU teacher candidates…our heroes…carry out an action research study during their Junior Methods year at SMSU.

The culminating event for the hard work these future teachers have put into their Action Research study throughout the year is presenting their findings at the Undergraduate Action Research Conference held in the spring.

The teacher candidates have a practice day the day before the conference. This practice day brings back fond memories of when I taught elementary students. Back then, we would have music program practices, and I would always fear the program would be a disaster because of how the practice went. Then the night of the program, my little cherubs would rock it.

Same story with my college students. Practice always seems to be a disaster, and then…their conference and presentations are PHENOMENAL.

And they were, teacher candidates!!! Your presentations were PHENOMENAL!!  You ROCKED it!

From your freshman year in Intro to ED to now in your Action Research class…you’ve grown exponentially both personally and professionally, and we applaud you!!

Be THAT teacher who sees the needs of your students and responds to those needs by finding ways to help your students succeed! Take action and be their heroes.

Thank you to the moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, sisters, brothers, and friends who showed up to offer support. Thank you to our tech guy who was there all morning for our every yelp for help. Thank you to the EMSP Club for the delicious yogurt bar breakfast. Thank you to the evaluators for giving constructive feedback. Thank you to Dean Easton-Brooks from the University of South Dakota for keynoting the conference, and thank you to Dr. Rhonda for being our Plan D. 🙂

Blog AR 2019

Stay Calm & Respond with Action!
Profs Dr. Wendy. & Dr. V.

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