Following our Murray Gadd observation on Wednesday 22 February, Rebecca and I were welcomed for a visit to the Junior classrooms at Sockburn School. We were lucky to be there during their Literacy time and able to observe the implementation of their Action Stations and their Learning Coach and teaching groups in progress.
They have a wonderful play based learning setup that I found so inspiring, particularly as it fits so well with my beliefs in the importance of play for younger students. It seemed easy to manage with the number and type of stations that they had set up and they shared how they plan for the stations together each week, with examples of their planning sheets as well.
They began and ended each session with a variety of learning songs for alphabet, colours, rhymes etc. The children were engaged and learning by rote without even realising.
Each station was set up with a visual prompt and a large number attached that represented the maximum number of students allowed at any one time at that station. Students opted into each station and were able to stay and play as long as they wanted. If they were called away for a reading/writing/maths group they could choose to leave their name there or remove their name and change to a new activity when they returned. They were able to swap activities at any time, provided there was enough space left in the group they wished to join.
Students were able to choose from:
Listening Post - headphones and stereo set up
Quiet Space - couch and library corner
Literacy - drawing activities for pencil control
Fit Kit - Jumping outside with skipping ropes
Tray Play - materials to pick up with scoops
Role Play - family corner set up with kitchen/beds/dolls etc
Fine Motor - threading beads onto pipe cleaners
Creative - creating collage faces
Snack Cafe - fruit and milk
Science - Wonder table set up for exploring nature items
Construction - Lego
Maths (2 stations) - Snakes and Ladders game & Crocodile teeth counting game
Inquiry - Puzzles
Literacy - Reading hut
Tech Ideas - iPads
The activity headings stay there each week, but they change up the content in some or all as the weeks progress or they see a need develop in the students’ learning.
I would love to see us take steps towards implementing some of these ideas when we enter our new learning space. Unfortunately we lack the space required to implement them now - hurry up new building! One of my favourite things about learning through play is that the children are pursuing their own interests and learning while having fun. I loved listening to some of the conversations that they were having - play based learning is fantastic for oral language development and social skills. I have had many years of experience with play based learning at the preschool level and have read so much about it at the school level but never seen it in action until now. I walked away thinking ‘This is how I would love to teach!’.