Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Apple Recipe: the 2nd P

The third ingredient of the Apple recipe is --

Play. I'm not kidding. This step is pure magic. In an instant, you can transform any lesson into an engaging experience with the magic of play.

Learning doesn't have to be drudgery. If you let learning become play, and play become learning, this will motivate and inspire your children to a degree that you never imagined possible. You will be amazed at how quickly they grasp concepts and develop new skills in a playful atmosphere when their imaginations and emotions are fully engaged. My own kids always astounded me by doing far more than I thought they could when we turned to play as an approach to learning.

Play has another hidden advantage. It will teach you more about your students than any assessment test can reveal. How they play shows how they are designed. It can give you important clues about how they prefer to learn: how do they teach themselves new games? What types of games do they prefer? How do they spend their time when they have a choice? Is it possible to incorporate some of these elements into their learning experiences?

There are many ways to incorporate play into the learning experience. Use games to teach math facts and skills, to teach phonics for reading, to help them learn history and social studies. Use make-believe to help them write stories or remember important people. Let them pretend to be characters from a book. Build a model. As kids mature, the play has to become more sophisticated, like performing a satire of political figures and social issues, sharing a learning event with friends, taking a special trip, or entering a contest.

Begin to see the world as your own special playground. It will transform your little classroom, super-charge your students' motivation, and uncover special areas of interest where they will excel and eventually find a career.


For information on aspects and techniques of play and the importance of play in learning, I recommend the Strong National Museum of Play.

I want to hear from you -- how do you use play in learning?


Recent storms have created widespread Internet outages in our area. I have to leave the house to find a connection. While Internet service is being restored, new posts will be published later than they usually are. If you don't see a new post, check back later.

Thanks for your patience.


  1. Play is amazing! If we are having a difficult time with a concept, I will work play into it somehow. Sometimes even just breaking the day up with playtime will keep their minds fresh to start another lesson. Making things is play, and they love to create. Anything where I know there will be a mess left over is sure to be a good learning experience! :)

  2. Perhaps this would be a good topic to explore over several days -- how to use play in learning.


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