Playing does not have to be reserved for ‘free time’. Playing needs to be a part of instruction at school. What better way to learn than through play: it is imaginative, active and meets the child’s needs and desires. It is the child’s work. It is also a great way for children to learn new information, to become better communicators and explore relationships and their interests.
During our Unit on toys and games, I brought in my childhood toy, a rabbit puppet. In the span of two week, Mr Hugo (already named by the students), has become a fundamental part of the student’s daily interactions. As a puppet, he is much better at generating and moderating group discussions and children pay attention and follow his instructions. He has developed individual relationships with each student, helping them manage their time, improve their handwriting, speaking skills etc., as necessary.
Not only is Mr. Hugo a fun part of the day, he is also extremely good at motivation. Students have recently written a questionnaire for him, and wanted to keep on coming up with more and more questions just so they would be able to talk to him for longer. Since Mr. Hugo is also learning the basic mathematical operations, students enjoy learning something in order for them to have a chance to explain it to him.
At first, I though it would be nice for the students to see Mr. Hugo during this Unit only, but after these multiple success stories, Mr. Hugo will definitely be staying!