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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Reflections on Our First Global School Play Day

Today is our first snow day of 2020 and I have to say, it is nice to have an extra day off!  Yesterday was a busy day at my school, we participated in Global School Play Day in the morning and then our students went home and we had professional development in the afternoon.  I have been leading a group of teachers working on differentiating math class, trying out math menu and focusing on the big ideas in math class.  It takes a lot more energy to lead inservice training than it does to just sit and listen so today I am taking a much needed day to slow down, snuggle my babies and reflect on our first Global School Play Day.

First, there were certainly mixed feelings for staff about spending a day "just playing"  but since it was already an early release day for our students and we all know we get way less done when our schedule is interrupted, staff had a generally positive attitude about the whole thing.  The other thing that happened was that many of our classroom teachers were participating in a full day of district led professional development and that meant a LOT of substitutes in our building for the morning.  This meant some shifting about of staff so that there were familiar adults in each space. 

Kids were allowed to bring toys from home as long as they had no screens, batteries, plugs or weapons.  This meant a lot of lol dolls, legos and sports equipment made their way into school.  We also have various toys, STEM type building materials and a huge pile of cardboard boxes.  We had a bunch of classrooms open, the gym, the music room and the playground as choices.  We did two sessions and took a break in the middle for kids to go back to their homeroom for snack and attendance.  Kids were welcome to move about the building freely.  Areas of the building that were closed had closed doors and kids knew ahead of time which spaces would be open. 

Adults were asked to stay out of the way unless behavior became unsafe or if a kid asked us to play.  Some kids had a hard time settling in at first and moved from room to room looking for friends or the right space to play in.  Some spaces like the gym got to loud for some kids and they went in search of a new spot to play.  In my space, there was a lot of building going on.  Of course my classroom has a lot of different STEM challenge type toys anyways and the kids adore them.  Also many kids brought Legos into my room and dolls.  Pokemon cards were also very popular.  There was also a pile of cardboard boxes in my room and it was amazing how the play changed when kids started dragging those out. 

One groups of kids started building the Titanic out of cardboard and tape and within 10 minutes, so many kids were building things with cardboard that we had to get MORE boxes and eventually used every piece of cardboard in the school!  The kids playing with LOL dolls and trucks started building houses and shops.  They started incorporating other objects like digiblocks, small cups, craft sticks and more.  All of the sudden, everyone was building and making stuff to go along with whatever they were playing.  It really reinforces the idea of the book Not a Box and why giving kids time to make and create things is so important.

By the end of the morning, kids were trying to figure out how they could transport their boxes and creations home and what they were going to add onto it and what else they were going to make out of cardboard. There was a spark of creativity and an excitement about play that  was contagious.  I think a lot more kids went home and played the rest of the day instead of going home to sit in front of a screen or play with electronics which is pretty common on these early release days in the middle of winter. 

I think our first time trying the Global Day of Play was a success and I am sure we will be doing it again next year.  If you want to join us, you can get more information here!

If you teach grades 3-5, you won't want to miss out on this great bundle of 10 winter and Valentine themed goodies that I put together with some of my math blogger friends!  Head here to sign up and grab this freebie!

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