Play IS learning!

One of the kids favorite things that they see me pull out from the cupboard is our sensory bin.  This morning new materials were added to our  bin. Items inclused plastic eggs, pom poms, tweezers, egg cartons and various scooping tools (measuring cups, spoons, etc).  Before I brought out these materials I had no plan on setting them out today, in fact this was going to be for our Easter week but at circle time all the kids wanted to talk about was the Easter bunny and how he hides eggs.  After we had sharing time I told the kiddos they were free to go play.  I went and put this bin together and when I brought it out they were SO excited that there were eggs in there!  The pom poms and other things were just a bonus.  They started by filling the eggs with the pom poms.  The older two matched the color poms with the same color egg (on there own), and all of them had fun trying to pick pom poms up with the tweezers (working their find motor muscles!).  Opening and closing the eggs is also great at working those small muscles in there hands.  They used the egg cartons to load up there eggs and started counting how many eggs fit into each carton, also counting how many extras they could squeeze in even though there wasn’t a designated spot for the extras.  I mentioned to them that each carton holds a half dozen eggs….they stopped, looked at me and ‘B’ Says “well then a half dozen is 6 because this carton is holding 6 of my eggs”  I was SOOO excited that he put that together!  I then told them that 2 of the cartons together would be 1 dozen eggs.  Not long after that “B” came back up to me and said “one dozen is 12!”  He was so excited and so was I!  He figured it out on his own just by me mentioning the word 1/2 dozen and 1 dozen.  Soon all the kiddos were counting out a dozen eggs 🙂

About 45 minutes into their playing they decided they wanted to hide the eggs like the Easter bunny does.  They gathered 6 eggs and hid them around the house. At this point I was getting lunch around and one of the kiddos comes to the kitchen and says “Sis hid 6 eggs and we found 4 of them…how many more do we need to find?”  My first thought was “This 5 year old just asked me a story math problem!”  I said to him “let’s figure this out together”  We all sat down (by that point all the kids were in there with us waiting to see how many more eggs they needed to find) and held up 6 fingers.  I repeated what he had asked me and we put 4 of our fingers down and they counted how many that should be left to find.  2!!!! they all screamed!  We need 2 more eggs!  They all ran out of the kitchen excited to find those 2 eggs.  I was excited that we just “worked” on so much math in the hour with that sensory bin!  Did they know they were doing math?  No!  But with them just playing and having fun there were learning and SO excited to be doing so!

I’m not against worksheets by any means.  Actually the kids enjoy doing them sometimes and ask to do them BUT would they have gotten these skills above by sitting down and me just telling them and having them “read” or “write” out the problems?  NO!  They would never remember.  The fact they had actual tangible items and they decided on their own what they wanted to do is where the learning comes to play.  And the laughs and giggles that I heard all morning is proof that they had fun.  Just one of the many reasons I believe that play is in fact learning!

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Here’s B with is dozen eggs 🙂