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The Teacher Tip

Energize Students with Innovative Play

December 28, 2017

Adapted from A Mindset for Learning by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz

The most powerful classroom cultures are the ones that have rich opportunities for playful engagement. Play has a wide range of definitions - rough and tumble, fantasy, construction play for starters - and all of them have a place in school. How might constructive play be practically implemented in classrooms?

Try this:

Encourage children to create pretend worlds in the primary grades.

  • Have children try inquiry based play where they dramatize historical events, or use blocks to build, and better understand, Roman civilization in upper elementary classrooms.
  • Foster an environment where play is a place safe for risks, for laughter, and for joy. These testing grounds of play help students become aware of their own ability to innovate.

There is wild and raucous recess play, but there is also sustained and involved intentional play. Recess play exercises bodies and energizes spirits. The other kind of play may seem quieter, but also works on mental dexterity, flexibility, and self-regulation.

To learn more about A Mindset for Learning and download a sample chapter, visit 

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