Playing a part in learning

Long Beach’s East Elementary School participated in Global School Play Day, an initiative that classes all around the world took part in on Feb. 1. Research shows that play is important to healthy brain development as children engage and interact with their surroundings, use their creativity and imagination, and increase their physical, cognitive and emotional strength.

East students brought toys and games from home and shared them with classmates. They enjoyed board games, dolls, Legos, blocks, trucks, cars, racetracks, playing cards, empty cardboard boxes, markers, jigsaw puzzles, blankets (for forts) and social games. Classes reviewed different play scenarios such as deciding who goes first in a game, including everyone and what to do when someone is playing alone.

“As part of our Social Emotional Learning Program, (SEL) East School recognizes the value that play has in and out of the classroom setting,” said East School Principal Kathleen Connolly.

Teachers provided students with simple ‘play rules’ that would enable them to socialize with their peers in activities that they enjoyed. Staff members maintained data on how students participated, communicated, shared and were able to join groups with different peers. In addition, the students assessed their own ability in regards to how well they got along with classmates, shared materials, followed directions and were able to problem-solve during play.