Category Archives: Early Childhood Education

PLC Series: The Essential Benefits of Free Play

Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series. This month, we share conversation about the role and necessity of play in learning.


"The skills that are hard to learn, and far more important, are how to get along well with other people, how to control our own emotions and behavior, and how to think creatively yet logically. "  -Peter Gray


What is the effect of the decrease in play on children? 

Children learn through play by nature; they need play to experiment with problem solving, deal with fear, exercise imagination, learn self control and so much more. In this powerful article from the Heinemann Digital Library, Boston College research professor of psychology Peter Gray makes a strong case for the essential benefits of play.  Continue reading

PLC Series: Play as a Priority

Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series. This month, we share conversation about the role and necessity of play in learning.

One of the biggest challenges teachers have is prioritizing what goes into the classroom schedule. Often, elements held in our hearts as high priority get pushed aside due to priorities of other decision makers. Play is one such element, one that is not only a right of childhood, but an experience that develops and enhances children as humans and curious learners.

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The Importance of Choice Time Play

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Early childhood educators have always understood the importance of play—in all its many forms—in the lives of their students. Guided play takes place in a purposeful environment that’s been carefully planned to stimulate and support children’s curiosity and creativity. As students interact with one another and the materials, teachers observe, record, confer, occasionally participate, or facilitate, and they use this information to plan next steps. However, the children decide how they will explore and interact with the materials, not the teachers. 

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Guided Play in the Classroom: Where Teaching and Play Intersect

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Early childhood educators have always understood the importance of play—in all its many forms—in the lives of their students. Free play is spontaneous and filled with make-believe as children pursue the fantasies of their unencumbered imaginations. A twig becomes the sword of a swashbuckling pirate, or a piece of flowing fabric is transformed into a superhero’s cape or the gown of a fairy princess. Free play is entirely child directed and free of adult intervention. Guided play takes place in a purposeful environment that’s been carefully planned to stimulate and support children’s curiosity and creativity. As students interact with one another and the materials, teachers observe, record, confer, occasionally participate, or facilitate, and they use this information to plan next steps. However, the children decide how they will explore and interact with the materials, not the teachers. 

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The Heinemann Podcast: Choice Time

ChoiceTime_MG5D9012How do you define play and choice time in early childhood classrooms? According to Renée Dinnerstein, play is an engine that drives learning. She writes, "during choice time, children choose to play in a variety of centers that have been carefully designed and equipped to scaffold children’s natural instinct for play.” In her book Choice Time, Renée gives us everything we need to set up choice-time centers that promote inquiry-based, guided play in a classroom. Renée also summarizes the research, describing the different kinds of play and why they are important. She says by giving your students choice time, and allowing them to engage in joyful, important, playful, age-appropriate work will empower them to become lifelong learners. 

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Play

Supporting the Development of One-to-one Correspondence

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Adapted from Young Children's Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction in Early Childhood Education 

by Thomas P. Carpenter, Megan L. Franke, Nicholas C. Johnson, Angela Chan Turrou, and Anita A. Wager


Supporting the Development of One-to-One Correspondence

Developing one-to-one correspondence occurs as children work to coordinate the counting of each object with one and only one number word. You can support the development of one-to-one correspondence by counting together with children, emphasizing matching the action of pointing, touching, or moving each object with the saying of a single number word. Or you might pose a question to the student such as, “How will you keep track of which ones you’ve counted and which ones you haven’t counted yet?” Some children benefit from putting the objects into a container as they count (such as during clean up), as it slows down their count and focuses them on one object at a time. Other children find that spreading out their collection or working with a partner is helpful. However, supporting children to use strategies to keep track of the objects counted will not immediately move children to use the one-to-one principle. Developing understanding of and the ability to use the one-to-one principle takes time and a range of experiences.

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