Half Day Play Day – Explore STEAM!

Spring is here and what better time to spend more of your hours outside? Through many of our Take Actions from the beginning of the school year, you have been able to get outside more with loose parts to encourage and enhance play. Extending play longer often leads to more engagement, creativity and cooperation. With more time, children can arrive at satisfying creations, engage deeply in role playing, solve building challenges and so much more.

Extended play with loose parts is a great complement to inquiry-based learning and STEM (or STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning.

Play has been identified as a vital component of STEM education. “The hand is the cutting edge of the mind” wrote mathematician and biologist Jacob Bronowski.  Sensorimotor, materials-based learning is the bedrock of our evolution and it shapes the brain – as children meet the world holistically with hands, feet and body.

As with many of the other Take Action play days, gather loose parts for your Half Day Play Day. Consider items that will inspire STEAM learning. These can be:

  • Boxes
  • Milk crates
  • Rope
  • Pulleys, hooks, carabiners
  • Spools
  • Wheels (old bike, trolley, wagon wheels)
  • Tires

As a teacher (or parent) it can be your role to document the event with photos and videos. This is an important part of the day, as you will be using it as a refection tool in the classroom.

Remember that this play is most beneficial when it remains child-led. They will have a few hours to really get into the materials and discover. The role of the adult is to support the kids when they need help.

It would be great to get a few video (or written) testimonials or explanations from the kids of what they have made or what they have enjoyed.

You can then take this documentation in the classroom and have a fun reflection of the Half Day Play Day.

  • Look at the different types of play that were happening
  • What were some of the situations that were happening? Were there any areas that were defined as special places? A house, neighbourhood, shop, office, etc.
  • Who were some of the characters present?
  • What were some of the objects created?
  • How are these objects identified?
  • What made these creations successful?
  • Did the creation have a purpose or function, and what was that?
  • Were there parts that moved?
  • What more could be added to some of the creations?

You could also end the session with sketching, drawing or making models of some of the creations, or something inspired by the creations.