Flocabulary Logo

Get Serious About Play

Five ways to get kids playing and learning

The national focus on standardized testing has left behind the once-sacred time for kids to race to the top of the jungle gym. Recess is in retreat, and the lack of time for play may actually be hurting students—and their test scores. Simply put, play is good for you. Here are five ways you can give your kids a brain break:

1. Give your students at least 15 minutes a day of recess

A study in the journal Pediatrics found that adding just 15 minutes a day of recess improves student behavior in the classroom. Has your school eliminated recess? If so, follow the example of these parents who successfully convinced their school to add more unstructured play time.

2. Use Flocabulary songs to wake your kids up—even between lessons!

You may already be using our songs to engage your students with everything from addition and subtraction to the Civil War. But how about in between activities? Many teachers have told us that they play tracks from the Beats CD from the Writing Academic Rhymes Package as a transition between activities. Let your kids dance to the beats during the break time so that they are ready to focus on the next activity!

3. Teach a lesson about play

Teach a lesson about the importance of play. Show this video: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=7001867

or read this article about play science. While watching or reading, ask students to take notes about the benefits of play, and then lead a discussion or debate about whether students agree or disagree that play is important.

4. Turn any lesson into a game

Students who may doze during lectures can come alive during games. Games are a perfect way to check for student understanding, while also changing the pace of the class. Use games at all stages of learning—not just when reviewing for a test.

5. Throw the Ultimate Block Party

This October, the group Play for Tomorrow, working with the National Science Foundation, expected about 10,000 people to attend to The Ultimate Block Party in Central Park to learn about the science and education value of play (while also playing games all day). 50,000 people showed up. Get more inspiration for educational games on UltimateBlockParty.com.