Children love to play- that is an almost indisputable fact. With their energy and inquisitive nature, children are constantly creating, exploring and inventing. Children have the unique ability to turn almost anything into a game and while adults may not realize it, they are learning a great deal during their play experiences.
When children are playing, they are actually creating pathways and connections in their brain which will serve them well later, and will last a lifetime. The exploring that children do during play actually helps them to build deep connections and understanding of the world around them. There is a great deal of brain research which indicates that children who engage in quality play experiences have increased language skills, memories, and motor skills. All of these things help learning new skills easier for children in later academic settings. The cognitive and intellectual benefits of play are immeasurable.
What Exactly is Play Based Learning?
Since there are so many documented benefits to play, and since it comes so naturally for young children, why not embrace its learning potential? That is the idea behind play based learning, which is a philosophy used in many early childhood programs.
Play Based Learning is based on the principles described above. The Play Based Learning approach is centered on the idea that young children learn best by exploring, moving, and taking risks in a semi-structured setting.
Play Based Learning does not imply that children are just playing all day long with no guidance or supervision. Instead, it is a structured setting where children have long periods of time to explore with different types of toys and activities as well as their hands and imaginations.
In a classroom which revolves around a Play Based Learning philosophy, the day is structured so that children are participating in a variety of different types of activities. Some of these activities may involve groups of children, or may be independent. The classroom contains all sorts of manipulatives and toys that are designed to stimulate thoughtful exploration, conversation and discovery.
There are usually physical components in a Play Based Learning setting as well. Children are involved in music and movement activities as well as other indoor and outdoor physical play times.
Creating Play Based Learning At Home
You can create this sort of setting at home with your child very easily. As parents, you should always remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher. If you provide them with the right experiences and opportunities, you can set your children up for academic success later in life.
Instead of letting them sit in front of a video game or television, why not plop them down with a bucket of blocks? Instead of a computer, how about encouraging them to explore the back yard? There are so many ways for a child to fill their day with playful experiences that will encourage that cognitive growth that they just will not get from more passive activities.
Sit beside your child while they are painting and talk with them about the colors they are creating when they mix two together, or the textures they can create with their paint. Give them a pile of buttons to count and talk with them about ways to group them. These are the sorts of experiences that will open their mind for later mathematical, science and language learning down the road.
Using the Spielgaben in Play Based Learning
The Spielgaben is a toy that was designed by Frederich Froebel, the inventor of the modern day kindergarten. It was created to expose children to geometric and mathematical concepts in a play based, free-exploration way.
The Spielgaben is a collection of sturdy wooden blocks and geometric shapes which are designed to introduce your child to mathematical, geometrical and building principles through free play and exploration. The collection contains 13 different sets of materials, designed to be introduced in succession, each building upon the previous set.
The first set, for example, contains 12 woolen balls, 6 with strings and 6 without. Children can use these toys to explore principles of movement. In the second set, there are wooden cubes, spheres and cylinders, along with a crossbeam. Some of these toys have rings on them, allowing them to be suspended from the crossbeam. They are seeing the ball shape again, but this time they are adding new shapes for exploring movement.
The third set introduces new three dimensional shapes, and the sets continue this way. After all of the 3-D shapes are introduced, children are exposed to two-dimensional shapes, lines and points. When they have been introduced to all the sets, they will have indirectly learned all the important principles of geometry, and they will learn how these shapes fit together to complement one another.
The Spielgaben is the perfect toy for a Play Based Learning classroom or home. It provides children with a semi-structured activity where they can spend a great deal of time truly exploring and creating connections in an interactive way.
Parents can build with their child, but it is very important to allow the child to take the lead, and talk with them about the things they are noticing and the discoveries they are making. Included in the set are several activity guides and building plans to help you and your child come up with creative new ways to use the Spielgaben.
Letting Parents and Their Children Play Smarter Together
The Spielgaben is a great example of a toy that lets parents and their children play smarter together. This remarkable toy has been used for decades by the likes of a young Albert Einstein and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. This remarkable toy will grow with your child as they develop new understandings, and due to its sturdy construction, it will not break or fall apart like a lot of poorly constructed toys. The Spielgaben will last for years and years and will never stop capturing your child’s imagination.
Why not play smarter with your child? Engage them in some experiences that will help develop their thinking, their language, their ability to problem solve, and their curiosity. Try a Play Based Learning experience with your child, and let the Spielgaben help you.