Sunday, February 15, 2015

Play in the 21st Century Classroom

Hello!  I'm Hannah from 21st Century Kindergarten and I am super excited to be one of the newest contributors to "Who's Who and Who's New!"  I am a Kindergarten-teaching-mom-of-three-wife-to-a-teacher-and-basketball-coach in Kentucky.  My goal as a teacher is to bring Kindergarten into the 21st Century while staying true to teaching strategies that help my young students learn best.

Play in the Kindergarten classroom has become a thing of the past with the advent of higher expectations, new core standards, and the pressures of high-stakes testing trickling down to primary teachers. But, after doing some research for a graduate course this summer and recognizing the needs of my students, 
I decided it was time to bring play back into my 21st Century classroom.  
Each month of this school year I have chosen a new theme for dramatic play and have centered all of my play and explore centers around that theme.  All activities are aligned to Common Core and 21st Century Learner standards, provide for student choice, and give opportunities for those important lessons about social interaction and conflict-resolution.  
By devoting time every week (if not every day) to play, I have found that the sense of community among my students has improved, their thinking and questioning skills are better, and their overall academic performance is higher than classes I have had in the past who did not have as many opportunities for exploration.
Young students NEED to PLAY!
This month our theme is Communication and our dramatic play center is a post office.  Students are enjoying making stamps, weighing packages, paying for stamps, and writing/delivering letters and postcards to family and friends.  At the computers students can play Valentine's Day games and practice typing "emails and blogs" in Word.  At the block center students are creating communication devices including walkie-talkies and cell phones.  I bought a couple of cute dramatic play sets from TpT and have also added some of my own ideas over the course of the last couple weeks.  I generally let the activities evolve as the students play and add to them as they ask for items.
Check out these photos straight from my classroom!

 Next week I plan to add a twist to the communication theme with opportunities to play "Oval Office!"  Students will be able to pretend to be the President, work at a desk, and communicate with their constituents through press conferences on the Smart Board (aka video themselves with the document camera and live-broadcast speeches on the board).  You can kick off your Presidents' Day studies with this FREEBIE from my store,
Grab this FREEBIE!


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