Let’s Play!

Washing dishes is not that glamorous of a chore. It is more fun when someone is doing it with you but they may not do it quite the same way. Some people like to rinse off the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Some may like to wash them before putting them in the dishwasher. And some may not even have a dishwasher, thus creating a whole other cycle to washing dishes. Do you do big pots first, little pots, utensils, plates? This all depends on the person. However, the result is still the same, a set of clean dishes. The same goes for learning. Not everyone has the same approach to learning as the next person.

In a post by Bud Hunt, “Centering on Essential Lenses,” he talks about how there are three essential learning styles every learner should discover or embrace. The three are: making, hacking, and playing. Hunt discusses each of these in his post, but the one that I felt related to me as a learner, and what I think to be essential in my classroom, is playing.

My goal, at the end of this long, stressful journey, is to be teaching mathematics at the middle school level. I know, I know, math right? I get the same reaction from everyone, “oh gosh you are so brave,” or, “I am so bad at math,” and every other variation. This is exactly my point. No one generally likes math in its entirety, not even me. I too struggle with it on a daily. I don’t want to be the class that everyone dreads because all we do is have a pencil in our hand and a paper in front of us. I have had math classes where that is all it was, and I couldn’t stand it. I believe there is a time for writing but not all the time.

Hunt discussed “playing” as a tool for learning and I completely agree. So much of math already is difficult to learn that being able to have fun with it would make learning it not so bad. In one of my math classes on campus, we are required to participate in what is called “Family Math Night” at one of the surrounding public schools. This is a night where the students, and their families, can come to school and play a variety of math-based games. I loved this idea when I was first introduced to it last semester for the same teacher. We had to form groups, prior to the night, and come up with a game for the students, and their families, to play. When we had all met up to go to set up at the school, I had seen everyone had all these props for their games. It was exciting to see what kind of games everyone had come up with and how it was also a learning activity for the students. We were all able to take this “boring” subject and make it fun. We were encouraged by our professor to take note of these games, as we might want to use them in our classrooms. I hope to do just that and come up with many more activities for my students.

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Photo CC-By GlitterandFrills

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7 thoughts on “Let’s Play!

  1. Wow! You did a wonderful job taking the broad topic of play from Bud Hunt’s blog and expanding it. Not only did you describe it in full force, but you took it and inserted it into where you will use it in your teaching career. I too am a math lover, therefore I understand where you are coming from when people become shocked. I get that often as well. After reading Hunt’s article, I was sort of unsatisfied with how little detail he actually went into the different terms. You took the term play and put it into an event that would take place. This was exactly what I was looking for as an addition to his piece! I love how you discussed the “Family Math Night”. I feel this is a great way to help children learn and not even realize it because they are having so much fun! Other than the games, how else do you think you will use play in your classroom? I am looking into going into the second or third grade level. I think that assigning students a variety of children’s books to read and then reenact them in a play form is a great way to help children understand the different aspects that make up a book.

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    1. That sounds like so much fun! I used to participate in school productions and I loved it. As far as using play in the classroom, I hadn’t really thought of anything other than games. But maybe prizes, students always seem to be more interested if they get something in return. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Elizabeth, great article about the Bud Hunt article. The analogy is great in the beginning with using chores and being different learner. That helps a lot to explain learning to others. I understand when talking about people thinking of a subject being hard and congratulating you for doing something they can’t do as well. Being an art ed major people think I can draw people with not having a problem and don’t use stick figures. When in all reality I really can’t draw people and would rather use stick figures, but thank you for believing in me. We all need math teachers and I am glad you enjoy it and find new ways to help your students have fun with it as well.

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  3. Oh my gosh! It’s so cool to find another Math Ed major out there! I’m studying Secondary Math, but it’s pretty much the same thing. My favorite reaction is “Ew why?” haha. I think the family game night was a great idea! You’re right, math can be very boring, and it will be our job to make it fun and keep our students interesting. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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    1. It is a common reaction haha. But it is nice to know I am not the only one out there. I think you are the first who is fully committed to the subject. Thanks for stopping by!

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