TITLE OF DEVELOPING PRACTICE EXAMPLE
Play Pedagogy with Craigbank Primary ELC
Play Pedagogy with Craigbank Primary ELC
Learning through Play in P1 is one million per cent for our learners. Play is an essential component of child development. It provides the children with lots of invaluable skills and opportunities for development. The list of physical, cognitive and social skills is immense. Learning through play supports fine and gross motor skill development, problem solving, curiosity, independence, language and communication skills, and emotional resilience, to name a few.
Our aim at Craigbank is to develop play pedagogy even further and create a oneary, rather than two completely separate classrooms. This year has been difficult due to COVID-19 as there has been so many missed opportunities for collaboration and togetherness between the two classes. We hope that come August, restrictions will be eased, and our vision will become reality.
Learning through Play has been a huge success at Craigbank this year which increases our excitement for future developments and the creation of our oneary. We aim to have one large classroom area in our early level. In this classroom area, we will have areas set up like we do just now but we will only have 1 of each area (1 water area, 1 construction area, 1 sand area, 1 literacy area, 1 numeracy area and so on). Working together with both classes in the oneary will allow more collaboration, better relationships between both teachers and all Primary 1 children and more opportunities for children from both classes to work together which will hopefully support us in meeting the needs of every child.
Siobhan Haldane (HT at Craigbank) initially had the vision of creating a oneary at Craigbank at the beginning of last year (2020). However, with the ongoing restraints of COVID-19 and the children being in ‘bubbles’, the oneary was put on hold. Myself, Rebecca Russell, and my stage partner, Lauren McLemon, moved to Primary 1 in August 2021. Both of us are passionate and enthusiastic towards play pedagogy and we were thrilled at the prospect of being involved in the development of the oneary.
Having separate classroom areas this academic year meant that we had to develop play in our own separate areas. Play based learning was very new to Craigbank therefore it began with a process of trial and error.
I developed a natural, nurturing environment with my children. The children are involved in setting up most areas in our classroom. They particularly enjoy selecting the new role play area. For example, one of the children had recently visited a hospital. He shared his experience with the class, which then prompted the children to want a hospital in class. The children decided what we needed in the hospital (bandages, stethoscope, bed) and we sett it up together. Rich learning experiences occurred from the hospital area. The children wrote check lists, they used their listening and talking skills to communicate with their ‘patients’ and they explored parts of the body whilst examining and bandaging their friends.
In our classroom, we always have a literacy area and a numeracy area set up. Both areas are equipped with lots of different resources that the children can access independently. The children know where to find each resource and always put them away correctly after use. I frequently add activities and resources to the areas relating to our current learning. Additionally, we always have a sand and water tray set up, the children enjoy measuring, exploring capacity concepts, pouring and estimating amounts at these areas. Furthermore, we have a tent in our classroom which the children sometimes use to self-regulate or they go there to sit quietly and look at the books. There is also a construction area set up constantly. The children love to go there and build marvellous creations. These areas can be seen in the attached photographs.
Recently, a large group of the children have shown an interest in writing for pleasure, making notes and writing cards for each other. Therefore, we decided to create a craft table with all sorts of art and craft materials, paper, pens, pencils, scissors and glue. This table is always full of children busily working.
Our classroom environment supports the children’s readiness to learn. We have soft lighting provided by numerous lamps around the room. The children enjoy being in the classroom with this soft lighting, so much so that if anyone turns the big classroom lights on, the children immediately tell them to turn the lights off!
Lastly, we have a Primary 1 garden which is situated directly outside of our classrooms. Due to current staffing and COVID-19 restrictions, children can only access the garden if we go out as a whole class. Next academic year, we hope to allow the children to have more frequent access to the garden area. The children love spending time in this area. We build obstacle courses with loose parts, we explore music at our music wall, we use magnifying glasses to examine the minibeasts we find, we study the birds that visit our homemade bird feeders. Learning is fun at Craigbank!
The children enjoy having lots of choice and independence in our classroom. They respect the areas and always ensure things are put back correctly. Whenever we come together for whole class tasks, the children often ask, ‘Can we go and play?’ or ‘When can we play again?’.
Many of the children have shown progression in their social and emotional development which I believe is a result of learning through play. When starting Primary 1 in August a lot of children struggled to use appropriate social skills and struggled to regulate themselves if they faced adversities. However, by having time to play with each other, take turns and communicate, the children have developed their social skills.
Initially, some parents had reservations about play based learning. There was a lot of comments from parent’s regarding the fact that not every child had their own desk/chair. I believe that parents are not aware of the benefits of play-based learning. As part of our ELC to Primary 1 transition this year, we aim to ensure that parents are fully informed about play based learning at Craigbank and the benefits it is having on the children’s development. Hopefully this will put parents’ minds at ease and get them on board with our journey to creating the Craigbank Oneary.