learning through play

Hi everyone! It’s been way too long since my last blog post, and it feels good to be back!

Today, I’d like to share an encounter I had with a Pre-K student during play time a few weeks ago…

This student came up to me with a piece of paper and a pencil and began drawing horizontal and vertical lines across the page to create a grid. The student then said to me “Let’s play tic tac toe!” The student started out by drawing an “O” in one of the boxes, and then passed the pencil to me and prompted me to draw an “X”. After going back and forth a few turns, the student exclaimed “I blocked you!” when placing an “O” in a box. After the student had several Os in a row, they drew a line through the Os, connecting them (and symbolizing that they had won the game).

When I reflected on this play experience later, I was taken aback at just how much information this small interaction gave me about this particular student. From this minute or two of tic tac toe play, I could discern that this child:

  • had played tic tac toe before at home
  • could draw vertical and horizontal lines
  • understood that tic tac toe was played on a drawn board made up of boxes
  • could hold a pencil with a tripod grasp
  • knew what X and O were and how to draw them
  • understood the rules of turn taking
  • grasped the concept of tic tac toe and how to win by getting several letters in a row
  • had seen someone else draw a line through the winning letters to signify a win

We often think about children learning through play, but this was an important reminder of all of the things that adults can learn about students’ holistic development through play. There is truly nothing like observing and engaging in play with children to understand them and get to know them! I consider myself so lucky to get to learn alongside my early years students in my classroom each day.

What have you learned about a student through observing their play? Share your thoughts in a comment on this post!

That’s all for today! Just wanted to do a quick blurb to jump back into blogging.

Until next time,



now presenting… my major project!

Here we are, at the finish line of a three-month long journey in this course. I am so pleased to be presenting my Major Project to you all!

I have created a PDF document that explores concepts of Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy in a Pre-Kindergarten context. This resource explicitly connects to the Pre-K curriculum (4 holistic domains of learning and Essential Learning Experiences, or ELEs) in each lesson, as well as providing extension activities and suggestions of ways to incorporate this learning into play. You can view or download the entire PDF document below.

Read on to learn about my journey of creating this curriculum resource document this semester.

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warming up to the idea of using devices in pre-k

I have really begun to see growth in my comfort level with allowing my Pre-K students to use devices lately. This class and my Major Project have both played a huge role in this change.

Before I began this class, my two class iPads sat at the corner of my desk essentially unused – I would plug them in every once in a while when they went dead from the sheer despair of not being picked up for weeks (or months) at a time. My motto was “I have so many amazing materials and toys in my classroom and I want students to use them, not play with a device.” Thinking about children choosing to play on an iPad during free play time made me cringe, and I knew some of my students already got lots of screen time and exposure to iPads and devices at home. My solution: I simply didn’t offer iPads as an option.

This was my philosophy before – NO iPADS! “iPad” by Tsubaki Kaworu is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0. Remixed by me.
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