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Monday, December 14, 2020

How to Keep the Spirit of Play Alive During Distance Learning

Photo by 5712495 (Pixabay)

How to Keep the Spirit of Play Alive During Distance Learning

"Learning" and "fun" aren't always viewed as synonymous. In the eyes of many educators and parents, class time is for learning, and playtime is for fun. I would argue, however, that combining learning with play maximizes the positive effects of both. It's been scientifically proven that when a child is having fun, they are far more likely to retain the information that they took in at that time. Just think back to your own childhood. What captured your attention more as a child: a dry, hour-long lecture about fractions, or a Jeopardy!-style math game where your team had to solve problems first to win?

It's even more critical to be able to combine learning and play nowadays, as so many kids are attending school in the same place they play: at home. My girls have struggled to focus on schoolwork amid the distractions of home, as have their peers. Just ask any parent or teacher and they will tell you that keeping a child's attention on a computer screen for a full school day is no simple task. But just because they're doing remote learning doesn't mean that they have to stay in their chair all day listening to their teachers talk. Try these ideas to add more play to the school day.

Include Games in Lesson Plans

Games are a great way of bringing an element of play into a classroom setting while still keeping the kids learning. Try making a quiz game in which the students can "buzz in" to answer questions for points. Or you can play a game of "I Spy" where students can pick any item from their classmates' screens. For a reading and writing lesson, try having a contest to see who can write the funniest joke or short story.

Make Time for Play

Just because the class can't go out to the playground together doesn't mean that they don't need play time. Block out time for play just like any other subject. Encourage the kids to play by getting a dialogue going with questions like "Have you learned any new games lately?" or "Have you made anything recently that you want to share with the class?"

Don't Forget the Wiggle Breaks

Kids have a hard enough time sitting still and paying attention in the classroom, but it can be even harder when they're not in the same room as their peers. Be sure to give them frequent wiggle breaks to get their fidgety energy out. You could put on a kid-friendly exercise video or a fun song to dance to, or just have them do stretches or jumping jacks.

Build a Bitmoji Classroom

In a virtual learning environment, it's easy for students to feel disconnected from a true classroom experience. Creating a Bitmoji classroom to act as a "hub" of sorts for your lessons can help your students feel a stronger sense of togetherness, even when they're far apart physically. This can help them to relax and have more fun with the activities you have planned out for the day.

Have Students Create a Virtual Background

Let your kids get creative by creating their own background for video classes! If the software you're using allows students to change their background, they can customize theirs with an image they find online or even one they create themselves. If your platform doesn't allow kids to customize their background, go analog by having them create a poster backdrop to hang up behind them. Then, let them take turns explaining why they chose their background or how they created it.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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