I'm still trying to figure this teaching stuff out. Each day I try to make sure that some form of learning is taking place in the classroom. I have filled the shelves with all my discovery toys games, Usborne books, Lets-read-and-find-out about Science books, Story Time Felt stories and dolls, and various other educational items. I have set times where I teach a "lesson" - usually introducing the sounds of the letter of the day, or some math concept - interspersed with plenty of free play time. I worry that it looks like we play more all day than actually learn. So I've started to take "snapshots" of moments in the class to see what is really happening.
I started this snapshot idea when the principal and high school teacher, entered my class to get something out of the file cabinet. I wondered, at that moment, what the class looked like to her. Was learning taking place?
Looking around I saw my 2nd grade girl playing a game of Tooty Fruity (Discovery Toys) with one of the aides. This game is similar to "Snap" where the players turn over their top card simultaneously and if the same fruit or the same number of fruits appear on each card then the player that rings the bell first, gets the cards. Learning skills: counting, color recognition, cooperative play, sportsmanship (can't cry if you're not first), fine motor skills.
In another corner two of the K5 girls were playing with the Story Time Felt dolls. Learning skills: cooperation, matching (outfits), creativity, imaginative play, sharing.
On the floor the K3 boy and another K5 girl are building with lego. Learning skills: fine motor skills, dexterity, cooperation, sharing, creativity, imaginative play, color recognition (they were sorting legos into color groups).
The 6th student, my 2nd grade boy, was working on a math pace, using popsicle sticks to figure out addition facts. Learning skills: counting, number recognition, addition facts, writing skills.
If you look hard enough, children are learning at all times. It may look like play, but in reality there is learning taking place.