Learning through play
Our K1 students joined the Wells International School Bang Na family online for their first school year. Every morning Ms. Shauna’s friendly voice met the small K1 faces peering through the camera. In K1, students learn new things about themselves and their world. The students learn all these new things through play. The IB Early Years program highlights how vital play is to produce relevant, student-centered, and creative learning.
Online learning can so often disconnect students from the real world and their friends. Play is an integral part of our IB program and is evident in every aspect of the Early Years Program. We had some enthusiastic parents join in the activities to help make the learning more experiential. The students used big markers and cut-out circles to draw how they felt every day, showing their friends how they felt. Furthermore, the students enjoyed dressing up in their favorite outfits and talking about why they dressed up.
At Wells International, we encourage students to be engaged in their learning by giving them a voice and choice. In kindergarten one, we provide the students with options to choose from, such as what songs they want to sing and what they would like to talk about. Giving choice and voice encourages our students to be more motivated and take ownership of their learning. To build this culture, we start early. Ms. Shauna often asks the students to come up with their own actions for dances and songs. Equally important, students have a voice when they can direct the trend of the lesson. For example, one morning, when Ms. Shauna asked a student how they were feeling, they put a box on their head. Ms. Shauna found a box and put it on her head too to allow the student to direct the lesson. The other students promptly followed suit. Another fun activity the students did was building numbers and letters with playdough. Playing with playdough encourages students to develop their motor skills, and with choice, the students can be creative when they decide what they want to make to practice their counting skills.
Stories play a big part in inquiry learning and encourage students to ask questions. Ms. Shauna uses these questions to direct the learning. She often uses puppets and dress-up clothes for creative and imaginative play. The puppets encourage the students to answer questions and create a relaxed atmosphere in the online classroom. Equally important, basic building blocks are ideal for different lessons to count, build, categorize, and even talk about. For example, Ms. Shauna asked the students to show how they were feeling with the building blocks. The students used building blocks to stack tall towers, long trains, or wooden cubes to interpret their feelings.
Play-based learning is a great way to build confidence through positive student and teacher relationships. Positive relationships in the classroom allow students to trust their teachers and feel safe. Students are then more confident to take more risks without the fear of failure. Wells International Bang Na follows this philosophy and aims to create learning environments that are fun, creative, and student-led.
Author: Ms. Sunee Steyn