A Learning Play Date

This week in Arizona many schools are closed due to the teacher walkout.  There is a great necessity to adequately fund schools in the state. I support the teachers, administrators and support staff who have stood their ground to put pressure on the state legislature and leaders to come up with a solution.

Since the local neighborhood school is closed, I invited a friend’s son over for a “learning playdate”.  This school year I have had the opportunity to work with this sweet kiddo once a week.  I offered to have him over to do some lessons with me or to come and work together with my son.  He choose to come over to work with my son who is in the same grade.

Two friends writing about castles during a playdate.

I thought about what kinds of math activities and games they could do together that would be fun and support their math understanding.  I set up four math activities at our table so they could move around the table to work.  I set up Pentominoes as a starter activity.  The boys built  different shapes with the Pentominoes and then made puzzles for each other to solve.

Rainbow Pentominoes from Learning Resources

After solving each other’s Pentominoes puzzles they played Roll and Add and Mobi a math game that is like scrabble but with equations. An hour went by and they were still engaged in the math activities and wanting to do more.

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After a short break to eat goldfish, play Spot It and Squashed. The decided they wanted to write stories.

Both boys wrote about castles and helped each other think about what to write in their story.  It was really sweet watching them help each other with their writing.

There is something very special about how kids help each other.  Kids are able to help each other without taking over the other’s work.  I noticed that getting help from a peer (versus an Me) allowed each child’s voice to come through in the writing.

The boys had a fun afternoon playing and learning.  They asked to do it again.  This was a reminder of the value and importance of kids learning together as well as of the power of learning playfully.  Children will engage in topics, like math and writing, when they are invited to “play” with those ideas in creative and engaging ways.  My role was to facilitate the activities, offer help when asked, and ask questions that helped clarify their thinking.

The boys are discussing how to draw a knight with armor.

The ended their playdate by making paper airplanes and throwing them around the front yard.  I look forward to planing and hosting more learning playdates. It was fun for me to see how well they worked together.

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Maria Arana

Hi, I am Maria, a mom to three wonderful kiddos. My family and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. We love the beauty of the desert southwest. I am a former primary teacher and elementary math coach. I love to encourage my children to follow their interests and passions. At Guided Learning Studio, I offer private personalized lessons and enrichment classes. Tutoring services are best for families seeking long-term educational support over a semester or school-year.

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